It is a sad, but true fact that fewer and fewer people are having outdoor experiences. With every generation that ventures afield less, the subsequent generation will continue the decline.
The number of participants in any outdoor activity is important because it is those participants that pay for the continuation and upkeep of our outdoor treasures. They provide the funds for continued operation of parks and conservation efforts to preserve wildlife and habitat.
Anyone involved in conservation or the outdoor industry in general knows that there are less people involved in outdoor activities. However, there is also good news.
The National Park Service has seen an increase in attendance in 2015, including a record attendance in July of this year at Yellowstone National Park.
The reasons for higher attendance are multifold. 2007 marked the end of a three-year decline in National Park attendance. The main reason for this reversal was the relative inexpensiveness of visiting a park or landmark compared to other forms of vacation opportunities.
With gas prices beginning to drop, there are more people taking the opportunities to get out and drive to beautiful destinations and they are beginning to spend money on equipment and such.
Another huge factor in the reversal is the fact that many organizations have made it a focus to get more kids and families into the outdoors; some with more success than others.
Tom Goodhew, Save The Hunt Coordinator for the National Wild Turkey Federation in Kentucky, said that part of the problem in that “families have many more distractions today than in the past. Select or travel sports teams and increased demands on parents in the workplace are just a few samples of the challenges to getting our kids outdoors.”
Many organizations are experiencing success in their prospective programs while others are continuing to decline.
The common threads to decline or success are: social interaction, time spent focused on the problem, cooperation between groups and willingness to incorporate societal norms with traditional operations.
Many camps continue to beef up their program, but refuse to allow Internet connections and electronics.
Kids want both and frankly the connectivity can help promote the group and their mission. Remember this the next time you see a deer stand selfie or a Facebook posting from the top of a mountain.
Goodhew stated, “we are at a critical time in securing our outdoor heritage.”
The question is what are you doing to get more people involved in any facet of the outdoor lifestyle? Sometimes all you need to do is take your mother’s advice; “Go outside and play.”