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Outdoor Recreation Report - 2.5% went backpacking
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Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Outdoor Recreation Report - 2.5% went backpacking on 09/26/2012 22:45:10 MDT Print View

Thought you all would like the Outdoor Recreation Participation Report - 2012. (I'm sheepishly linking you to my blog.)

Backpacking amongst youth aged 6-17 decreased from 4.8% to 3.5% percent of the population. For young adults it held steady (3.6 to 3.7%). Participation for all adults held pretty steady too.

Take a look at the projections through 2060 too.


Stephan Doyle
Re: Outdoor Recreation Report - 2.5% went backpacking on 09/27/2012 00:45:14 MDT Print View

I haven't read these reports, but industry insiders have told me it's (partially) because of the demographic shifts in the US. For the outdoors industry to grow, it must reach out to minorities. Second priority, particularly in the ski industry, is the lower and middle-income brackets.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Outdoor Recreation Report - 2.5% went backpacking on 09/27/2012 08:09:29 MDT Print View

Take a look starting at page 41. It speaks directly to diversity in outdoor rec. Really interesting stuff.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Outdoor Recreation Report - 2.5% went backpacking on 09/27/2012 09:38:50 MDT Print View

"Backpacking amongst youth aged 6-17 decreased from 4.8% to 3.5% percent of the population."

100% of the kids in my household go backpacking.

But population-wide, yeah, I can believe that. The BPing boom years of the 70's and 80's are long over, those adults have mostly finished procreating (some of us had kids late), and we're a more sedentary society each decade.

Dave Ploessel
(mailesdad) - F
double edged sword on 09/27/2012 12:51:30 MDT Print View

personally, I don't mind there being less people out there...

otoh, it does concern me that our parks/forests may lose even more funding because it's hard to justify spending. taxpayer dollars maintaining trails that only see a tiny number of people a year.

this kind of distancing from nature is getting worse across the board.... people won't care to understand or protect what they haven't been immersed in. the implications and potential for abuse are quite frightening, particularly in states like California.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Outdoor Recreation Report - 2.5% went backpacking on 09/27/2012 13:52:12 MDT Print View

"For the outdoors industry to grow, it must reach out to minorities"

Why? Since us backpackers are only 2.5% of the population wouldn't it make sense that we reach out to ALL people? I don't get this fixation on race. Let's just introduce it to as many people as possible all across the board so any and all can enjoy.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Multiple Thoughts on 09/27/2012 19:57:34 MDT Print View

1. Jack said "Backpacking amongst youth aged 6-17 decreased from 4.8% to 3.5%." That seems to be a drop of one-fourth and looks ominous. But the 4.8% is from 2006, before the survey changed methodology. If the range is instead from 2007 to the present, the change is 3.6% to 3.5%, which is statistically meaningless. . . .

2. As is much of the data, I'm afraid. When you have such tiny slices of the population, almost anything can throw off the numbers. Look at the youth participation since 2007: 3.6%, 4.2%, 3.7%, 4.4%, 3.5%. No rhyme or reason. Were the lower turnouts during years of poor weather? Did the lower-turnout years include better films that drew kids into theaters instead of outdoors? The higher percentages were in election years--did that influence the numbers? (Just joking.)

3. "Reaching out to minorities" isn't the most obvious way to increase the proportion of backpackers. If you want to sell an automobile magazine to new readers, market it to the demographic that already reads such magazines. You won't have as much luck trying to lure new readers from a demographic that tends not to read such magazines.

If, proportionately, whites go backpacking the most often and blacks the least often, your marketing effort will get better results by focusing on the former than the latter. (Assuming you had to choose one group over the other. Of course, everyone ought to be invited to participate.) If it were determined that lefthanded middle-aged women go backpacking disproportionately often, then market to other such women, if what you want is a raw increase in numbers.

Find out which subgroups backpack the most often, and reach out to those folks first. When that effort reaches a plateau, aim at the next-best group, and so on, working down the list. (This presumes the goal is increasing head count rather than trying to introduce backpacking to subgroups that rarely go backpacking now.)

4. One thing the report doesn't attempt to do is to correlate where people live with the frequency of their outdoor activities. Those who live in crowded metropolitan areas on the East and Midwest likely get outside less often than those who live in the Southwest and Mountain states, where activities may be just around the block. If you live in Detroit and want to go backpacking, the burden is greater than if you live instead in Reno. A good number of people in urban areas don't have cars because they use public transportation. Everyone in California has a car (or two). What trails can the city bus take you to, compared to what trails can your car take you to?

Edited by KarlKeating on 09/27/2012 20:00:09 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Sierra Club's Inner City Outings program on 10/05/2012 11:34:53 MDT Print View

Jack, thanks for bringing this to our attention. It is a vitally important topic for all of us on BPL.

I just returned from San Francisco this week where I attended a training for Sierra Club Outings chairs. Surprisingly most of the outings chairs were from the Inner City Outings (OIC) program.

OIC leaders are specially vetted and trained by the Sierra Club to interact with "at risk" youth whether from urban or poor rural settings. Often these kids have had no other experience in the natural outdoor world and it appears the demand by youth organizations like churches, karate clubs, etc. for the Club's OIC programs is constantly growing, witnessed by the number of newly-chartered OIC groups in many cities across the nation. OIC at this time only works contractually with entities like these and not individual youths.

I know that hunting organizations also have programs to expose youth to the outdoors and work with them on outdoor service programs to improve wildlife habitat, for example.

All of these outdoor programs will (hopefully) reverse the trend toward less youth involvement in the outdoors. Saving the natural environment DEPENDS on getting future voters exposed to it so they know how important it is.

BTW, I encourage all of us on BPL to work with youth programs and with young relatives to get them out on the trails. A youth forum, call it "Teens-To- Trails", could become a part of our Scouting forum because Scouting is not the only portal to the outdoors for our kids.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/05/2012 11:42:01 MDT.

Julie ONeill
(corynjulie) - F
kids can backpack! on 10/07/2012 21:18:25 MDT Print View

Thank you for all your posts. We have not missed a summer backpacking with our kids - this summer we took our 9 and 11 year olds to tackle 215 miles along the John Muir Trail. We are hoping to write a book about it. Read about our journey here:

Go for it!

Take your kids!