A new survey by Kampgrounds of America reveals that 83% of campers bring their cellphones, half of all campers go online daily (and another 20% go online at some point in their trip), and “free wifi ranks among the top three most important camping amenities,” behind clean bathrooms and kid-friendly facilities. Wifi is now as important as pet-friendly areas, and more important than recreational activities, safety lighting or swimming pools.
Among young people, 34% consider toilet paper essential, and 28% consider cellphones an essential. (I suspect these numbers would change if they spent 48 hours without one or other other.)
Granted, there are some people (read: everyone I know) who thinks KoA is like Motel 6 without any buildings— i.e., it’s not real camping because everything you do there doesn’t involve either 800-fill down, something with a titanium frame, or a magnesium firestarter, all the things that really get you back to nature— but it’s still an interesting survey.
There are some interesting racial and ethnic variations in these patterns. Hispanic families are more likely to stay wired— using cellphones, wifi, cable or satellite TV, or video games— while camping, partly because they’re more likely to go camping as part of a group of family and friends, and to camp as the family vacation.
Asians, on the other hand, are the most unwired campers (and who in 2014 accounted for 6% of campers, up from 1% in 2012— a rise so fast I have to think it’s an artifact of measurement); they tend to go on shorter trips, but take more of them, and to do more athletic stuff while camping— backpacking, kayaking, etc. (I want to buy a kayak. I’m such a stereotype.)
On the other hands, age doesn’t make a big difference in technology use: 77% of people over 65 bring their cellphones, while 86% of people under 25 bring them.
This tells us not that old people don’t get technology, but that everyone has a cellphone now.