Ask the Expert: Why Camping Should Be On Your Family’s To-Do List

Ask the Expert: Why Camping Should Be On Your Family’s To-Do List

The BSA’s marketing intelligence manager Scott Olson is back on the scene to give you insights on what drives the masses to head outdoors this season. Use the information he’s sharing below to help plan for your recruiting season and round out your summer camping plans. Read on as we let the expert take it away:

Why the American Family Camps

More than 46 million (44%) of American families are active campers, according to a recent survey by the Cairn Consulting Group.1 By comparison, 37% own a dog2, more than 20 million have purchased a Sony PS4 game console3 and only 10 million families own a piano.4 Knowing many American families will be seeking camping spots will there be a campsite for all of us this summer?

Among those who camped last year, Americans took an average of 4.4 trips. Gasoline prices averaged $3.62 a gallon for most of the 3rd quarter 2014, then dropped to under $2.00 in January 2015, rebounding to about $2.75 today5. Lower gasoline prices will likely increase the number of trips campers take this year.

The average age of campers is trending younger. In 2012, 18% were 25-34 years old. In 2014 campers in that range increased to 23% of the total. We travel modest distances to a campsite, too: 77% of campers travel fewer than 200 miles.

Why is Camping Important to the Boy Scouts of America?

0230In addition to the basics of survival and conservation, older Scouts instruct younger campers in the basics of wilderness training, plant science and perfecting a camp’s food storage plan. Essential skills are passed from generation to generation resulting in rewarding youth-led and adult-guided experiences. Boy Scouts can earn more than 136 merit badges, most of which involve outdoor experiences. Therefore, camping trips go a long way toward putting a Scout on the path toward Eagle.

The typical American’s first camping trip occurs before he or she reaches 18 years old.1 The Physical Activity Council, an association of sports recreation and leisure activity companies, surveyed 10,778 Americans in early 2015. The survey asked 6 to 24-year-olds which of 104 activities they preferred. Respondents consistently choose camping and swimming (Ages 55-65 chose bicycling).6

Researchers discovered 28% of us did nothing last year! That’s right – 83 million are sedentary. Camping encourages us to be active and enjoy the outdoors resulting in three main benefits:

First, improved physical health.

  • We feel better – Oxygen emitted by plant life releases serotonin, a molecule essential to feelings of happiness and well-being. You can even lower blood pressure and body strain in the outdoors.
  • Clean air and water – Lower levels of pollutants result in fewer lung irritations and illnesses.
  • Greater physical fitness – Per hour calorie consumption increases for campers. Hikers burn 120-300 calories, fly fishers burn 200. Biking and swimming, gathering wood and building a temporary shelter results in healthy calorie burn and increased flexibility.
  • Sunlight – Moderate sun exposure increases Vitamin D – essential for healthy bones and teeth.
  • Natural food – Fishing and hunting provides nourishment without preservatives. And camp food just tastes better!

Second, greater mental health.6684-CR2-0144

  • Socialization – Improved mood from face-to-face interactions, teamwork and bonding without distractions.
  • More Sleep – After a full day of outdoor activities, the body achieves more natural sleep when the sun goes down.
  • Solving Problems – You can apply skills to overcome unexpected challenges and promote self-sufficiency by collaborating with your camping party.
  • Discovery – Learn about plant science and build trust from working with domesticated animals such as horses and dogs. Be prepared to prevent insect bites and predator intrusions.
  • Minding nature – The outdoors challenge you to minimize trash and leave your camping space cleaner than you found it.

Third, camping is fun! As evidenced by posts on the Boy Scouts of America social media pages, people love to camp and comment on successful Scout camping expeditions. Check out the Boy Scouts of America, Scouting magazine, Boys’ Life or High-Adventure bases Facebook pages, Twitters and Instagrams.

Now go enjoy nature this summer and let me know in the comments why you think camping is important for your family.

-Scott Olson

1 North American Camping Report 2015. Cairn Consulting Group. 2,420 US households surveyed in July, 2014
2 American Veterinary Medical Association 
6 Physical Activity Council 2015 Participation Report. Online survey of 10,778 interviews during January and February, 2015


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Ask the Expert: Why Camping Should Be On Your Family’s To-Do List
Ask the Expert: Why Camping Should Be On Your Family’s To-Do List
Ask the Expert: Why Camping Should Be On Your Family’s To-Do List