Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guest on August 8, 2010, CBC radio's Cross Country Check Up

On Sunday August 8 I was interviewed by Jacquie Perrin, the guest host for CBC's Cross Country Check Up radio program. The show was on the decline in the number of people camping and I offered my two cents on why fewer people are camping and what the outdoor gear companies are doing about it - basically making camping easier and less of a shock compared to real life. You can listen to the program here; I'm the second guest.
The biggest reason I think fewer people are camping is a loss of connection to the activity. Camping is a lot of work: preparing, packing, getting there, setting up, taking down, driving home, cleaning up, putting away. You need some solid motivation in this time of instant gratification. It's telling that mountain biking and trail running are booming while the sales of big hiking boots stumble. People aren't willing to invest the time it takes to go camping as much any more. Other reasons for the decline: cost, it's not as cheap as it was to go and to get outfitted; and an aging population, sleeping on the ground isn't attractive to everyone.
I fell in love with outdoors and camping on trips with my family. We had an orange canvas tent that was bulky, heavy and, if my memories of my dad cursing are correct, hard to put together. Our first few trips were car camping weekend's in Australia. When we moved back to Toronto we spent a memorable week paddling in Temagami with Hap Wilson. From there it was camping across Canada, hiking in the Canadian Rockies and two weeks on the Nahanni. I was hooked on the outdoors. My best memories of travel and wilderness were on those family vacations.
As an industry, I don't think outdoor gear manufacturers do enough to encourage the next generation and new immigrants to get out in the wilderness. I don't know what the best way to introduce it is, but something needs to be done to get more people in our wild places. If we don't the value society puts on parks and wild places will decline along with use. Anybody got any ideas?

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