For Americans, camping with family as a child is a common experience. They go camping more than any other country.
It is hard to find an American who never went camping. Camping is rising in popularity among the newer generations as well.
Americans’ frequent camping has led the world to ask is camping an American thing as in no other places around the world camping is seen as a must-do once activity.
American camping has created a notion of camping for people who never heard of it. Their ways of camping have become so popular that now those ways are considered as the norm.
Is Camping an American Thing?
While camping itself did not start in America, it became more popularised through it. It has now become one of the ultimate American features alongside apple pies and American football.
Nothing describes American summer holidays better than setting up a tent, having s’ mores over the campfire, and telling horror stories.
Why Is Camping Considered an American Thing?
If you ever wondered “is camping an American thing,” the answer is that there are several reasons why camping is considered so American.
American camping has created the idea of casual camping with family and friends. It is one of the most common pastimes of Americans.
The popularisation of American camping came through tv shows and films. There are thousands of camping films which is a favorite category among people. Almost all American tv shows have episodes where the characters go camping.
This has led camping to become a popular concept in places where people never camped or knew what it was. It increased the appreciation of nature and life skills as well.
Thus, camping became known as an American activity around the world. Americans helped spread camping activities like roasting marshmallows, telling stories over campfires and fun games.
Another reason behind American camping becoming so renowned is summer camp programs. Americans have various summer camp events for children of all ages. They teach things such as scouting, maths, arts, theatre, sports, and other educational activities.
When Did Camping Become an American Thing?
Camping was a common activity practiced by Native Americans. They used a makeshift tepee for camping, which was the model behind the first American bell tents.
The first camping in the US started in 1861 when schoolmaster Frederick Gunn started Gunnery Camp in Connecticut. He took his pupils on a two-week study trip. His curriculum included exploration, cooking, fishing and sleeping in nature.
Gunn is now considered the father of camping for leisure and education. He believed in naturalism and equality of all men and creatures and felt it could be best learned through nature.
In 1869, church minister William H.H. Murray wrote Adventures in Wilderness, which made camping popular among city people. YMCA created many camping sites for its members, including the famous, still open, Camp Dudley, in New York.
However, the idea of setting up tents became common through the Boy Scouts guidebook in 1911. By 1912, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America founded many campsites in the US and held many trips.
It wasn’t until President Theodore Roosevelt’s historical trip to Yosemite that camping became what it is today. His initiatives helped create National Service Park 13 years later by President Wilson, where Americans started to spend time in nature.
Is Camping Popular in American Millenials?
Camping is an American thing because the older generation camped quite often? Camping was one of the primary pastimes of children in the 1970-80s.
However, the camping essence has spread through millennials and other younger generations as well. Millennials make up 40% of campers.
A statistics report in 2018 made by Campgrounds of America (KOA) called North American Camping Report said that camping has become increasingly popular in the US and Canada. According to them, 77 million US families camps sometimes.
In fact, since 2014, the number of camping households increased by six million and has risen since then. These households camp at least three times a year.
In 2017, the number was 2.6 million households. Unlike previous years, Americans of all races and ethnicities camped more often in that year.
New American campers are more diverse than ever. This proves how widespread camping has become as in past years; the American camping population consisted mostly of the White population.
Popular American Camping Characteristics
Some of the most well-liked American camping activities are roasting marshmallows over campfires, telling scary stories, and sleeping in sleeping bags. Many people also fly kites or sky lanterns out in the open air.
Camping in the US became widespread after 1945 at the end of World War II. Many Americans chose to go camping to relax after the terrible taxing war.
This led to a camping gear boom, and different types of items were created for camping comfort. They sold civilian versions of military products such as backpacks, sleeping bags, lanterns, fire starters, etc.
In 1959, the company, Eureka! Created a tent that can be easily assembled by one person, and it changed the camping scene forever. Up until that point, setting up a tent was the hardest part of camping.
Now, camping has become a recreational activity where parents take their kids or people have to fun outings with friends. It is advertised as a fun and relaxing time where you get to mix with nature.
People go camping to observe wildlife and stargazing. Camping has become an accessible and fun way for young children to connect with nature.
Millennials are shown to be more into backcountry camping and ‘glamping,’ which means camping in style with bigger tents without normal camping activities.
Where Do Americans Camp?
Americans generally camp in the summertime as schools are closed, and the weather is favorable. Most camp programs are held in summer as well.
Is camping an American thing because camping sites are plenty and accessible in America? This may be partly true as 59% of campers camp inside 100 miles radius of their home.
Camping is a great activity as people of all classes can camp without worry—almost 42% of people camp at national or government camp areas. There are also private camping grounds and one-fourth campers camp there.
Many Americans camp at winters as well; especially in the Colorado area where it is more popular.
Camping Around the World
While camping was popularised through the American way of camping, people camp regularly in many places and cultures worldwide.
One of the best examples is Mongolians. To them, camping isn’t a leisure activity but their way of life. They live in large circular canvas tents.
Arabs are another group that camp culturally. Ancient Arab camping in the desert is well-known. Now Arab families only camp in winter and it is more fun than camping in the summer.
You can’t talk about camping and not mention Kiwis or New Zealanders. Camping is part of their life, and they have over 250 government campsites.
Their close neighbors, the Australians, are also huge fans of camping. Instead of using tents, most of them makeshift a sleeping spot on their trucks to avoid snakes and other animals.
For Dutch people, camping is one of the common pastimes and a yearly vacation. They usually camp in Spain or France and travel by caravans.
Germans use camping to connect with their relatives as they tend to go camping with extended families. Their favorite camping activities include BBQing and playing card games.
Benefits of Camping in America
The reason why camping remains popular is that it gives us a path to connect with nature and create bonds with our closed ones.
Camping is a place to relax, escape from the city life, and a way to clear your thoughts. It offers a chance to be amidst nature, an environment most don’t get to have in day-to-day life.
Moreover, it has started to reach a more diverse and younger population due to easier access to camping grounds, stylish tents, and cell service and Wi-Fi network availability in camping grounds.
Alternative styles of camping have become very popular. Only half of the new campers choose a tent for camping while the other half chooses RVs and cabins. There are other choices, such as yurts, tepee, hammock, etc.
Camping has survived the test of time due it bringing loved ones closer by bonding through nature activities. Many families take camping vacations to instill these values into their children.
People learn how to bond by pitching a tent together, hiking, swimming and gathering around to tell stories.
Camping provides a gateway to nature. It refreshes our soul and helps us to distress.
I hope you have the answer to the question is camping an American thing or not. Americans love to camp because it offers a connection to nature and is accessible to people from all walks of life.
It is common for families to go camping to bond with one another, and some take annual trips as tradition.
Proper management of public campsites have helped tremendously as people who can’t afford luxurious private grounds or don’t want the risk of wilderness can camp in peace.
Whether it is camping with friends, families, or even by oneself, camping should be a must-do once activity in everyone’s life.
Pavel is a true outdoor enthusiast with a passion for nature and a love for the great outdoors. He started Outdoor Fun Mag to introduce people from all walks of life to everything the outdoors has to offer and hopes that you’ll find something that excites you every time you stop by.
When not exploring nature Pavel works as an Electronics Engineer — a job that gets him thinking and makes sure he pays attention to all those fine details. This means that when he leaves work for the week, there’s no better contrast than the calmness and serenity of the natural world. By giving Pavel the chance to switch off and relax, his time spent camping and hiking allows him to feel refreshed.
In the future, Pavel plans to explore new areas and corners of the world with nothing more than a backpack and a tent. It’s an authentic way of seeing new places that allow him to de-stress and enjoy life, and he wants you to make the most of your life too.