While camping will always conjure up images of relaxing around a roaring campfire, making ooey-gooey s’mores on a stick, hiking on thickly wooded trails, and sleeping under the stars, camping as we know it is changing. Millennials are embracing the awesome pastime of camping, and they’re changing the rules. Just like their parents and grandparents, millennials are using camping as a way to seek solitude, but they’re sharing their experiences with the world on social media while they do it. They’re leaving the stresses of work and home behind, but they’re not going off the grid completely. And they want to live life more simply when shacking up in the great outdoors, but only if that means they can charge their devices and bring their Yeti coolers along. Let’s take a look at how millennials are gearing up to hit the road for a great time in the outdoors and approaching the world of camping in a new, modern way!
If you’re between the ages of 18-35, you fall into the “millennials” age group. And while a lot of negative qualities have been attributed to this age group, such as laziness, self-centeredness, and entitlement, there are just as many positive ones that define this generation. According to research, most millennials feel that they’ve been raised to be confident, self-assured individuals. So taking to the open road in search of an adventure isn’t beyond their comfort zone. Whereas members of earlier generations may be more apt to stay put and not seek out new experiences for fear of failure, millennials think Why not. Some say this is in response to not wanting to be tied down to responsibility, but others say it is a way of expressing their desire to see all that the world has to offer. They have a sense of adventure that lends itself perfectly to camping! But it’s not camping as Baby Boomers or Gen Xers know it. Millennials desire and demand campground amenities that will make their stay in the great outdoors easier. Yes, they want to “get away from it all,” but they want to bring everything with them, including their devices that require easy access to Wi-Fi. Campgrounds across the country are taking note of this and are making changes to make millennials feel right at home, even when they’re hundreds or thousands of miles from it. Many offer free Wi-Fi to help millennials stay connected and stream their favorite entertainment, and they’re also providing activities that millennials have flocked to, such as stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. They’re realizing that camping for millennials is more than just setting up camp, grabbing a book, and settling in by a campfire to read. It’s a getaway that hinges on extreme adventure, fun activities, modern amenities, and 24/7 access to their network of friends and family via their phones and iPads.
Sharing is Caring
Before the Internet, people shared vacation stories and photos after they returned home from their trip. Photo albums would be passed around and stories would be shared at backyard BBQs or get-togethers. But that was then. A lot has changed since then. Since the invention of social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, you can practically bring family and friends along with you on your vacations by constantly sharing every aspect of your time away through photos, messages, and tweets. And there is no generation better at staying connected socially than the millennials. And the reason for this is simple: they’ve never known anything different. Millennials are the first generation to grow up constantly connected to the world through technology. So it should come as no surprise that even when they want to “escape” or “get away for a while,” this doesn’t mean they’re deserting their Facebook or Instagram accounts or leaving their phones behind. No siri! Because social media brings people together, even when you’re miles from civilization (assuming you have Wi-Fi). Instead, they’re using social media to track every minute of every day of their camping trips with hashtags, pics, location tags, and more. A thumbs-up or a Like fuels their adventure and reminds them that they’re never far from their network of friends and family back home. Sure, they can still enjoy solitude and clearing of the mind in the great outdoors, they’re just never totally off the grid. They can post, Like, and share whenever they want (or not). It’s the best of both worlds!
Gotta Have the Right Gear
Older generations see camping as more of a lifestyle than a hobby. They embark on camping trips equipped with the skills necessary to survive. They know how to build a campfire and keep it going, even without a match or lighter. Millennials, however, turn to high-tech gadgets and gear to keep them safe and sound. Can’t get a campfire going? No problem, just use your solar-powered lantern to illuminate your campsite. Think you hear thunder in the distance? Just crank up your NOAA weather/AM/FM radio. Didn’t want to weigh down your backpack with heavy water bottles? Just use your water filtration system to turn water from a nearby stream into clean, drinkable water. From handheld showers and portable solar chargers to a multi-tool kit and a waterproof jacket/sleeping bag/tent-in-one, there isn’t anything they have to go without in the great outdoors. And since the millennial generation is the largest generation in western history, manufacturers are taking notice! With over 80 million millennials in the U.S., and camping becoming a more popular pastime every day within this group, companies are targeting them by making awesome high-tech gadgets and gear. Companies that previously only catered to extreme adventurers are now making gear, gadgets, and clothing for the casual camper, and reaping the benefits.
There’s no right or wrong way to take to the great outdoors. Just getting out in nature and experiencing life away from the hustle and bustle of the every day can be refreshing and re-energizing. Whether you choose to bring along your Garmin Quatix for hands-free navigation and wireless monitoring of your heart rate and share pics on Instagram of every new location you visit, or just simply pack up the car with a tent and your walking stick, camping is good for the heart and soul. How you do it is up to you.