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June 4, 2015

JESSICA WELSHANS - Sentinel correspondent , Lewistown Sentinel

One in four households participates in some type of camping every year, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association's Consumer Demographic Profile.

No matter if it's tenting, RVing or enjoying an a cabin, more people are looking to spend time in the outdoors.

Jennifer Schwartz, vice president of marketing for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, found that the No. 1 reason camping is popular is people can spend time with family, reconnect and enhance relationships.

"Camping provides that escape and time to bond; it encourages interaction. Nearly 90 percent of all campers camp with their spouse, children and/or extended family," Schwartz said.

It is also affordable and offers a wide variety of things to do and amenities in one place. Schwartz pointed out that campgrounds cater to the family and have activities for all ages.

Trends are leaning toward people wanting a little more convenience while they are enjoying a trip, and Schwartz said RV ownership has grown to 8.9 million households.

"While tent and RV camping remain popular, the trend is the park model or cabin, to allow for more convenience and comfort as well as ease of use. More than 40 percent of campers have stayed in these types of accommodations and the number is growing," Schwartz said. "Recent studies show that 90 percent of outdoor enthusiasts, but non-campers would be interested in renting a cabin that feature amenities like a full bath, kitchen, beds, TV etc. which many campgrounds offer in addition to tent and RV sites."

Aside from the many state parks that offer camping here in Pennsylvania, private campgrounds have a lot of amenities people are looking for these days.

"The full camping experience and value that privately owned parks offer as well as the modern and clean facilities, variety of amenities and onsite recreational options create a great family destination for experienced and first-time campers alike," Schwartz said.

She said campgrounds offer a myriad of recreational options and amenities, for tenters and RVers alike.

Some privately owned campgrounds have things like water parks, slides and pools; jumping pillows; miniature golf or full 18-hole golf courses; ziplines; rafting, paddleboats, canoes, kayaks or paddleboards; all-terrain vehicles; and live entertainment.

Those with larger families can find the space to fit everyone comfortably and be able to all come together in once place for an enjoyable family experience.

"The variety of accommodations and sites available at RV parks and campgrounds provide the space and options that families are looking for. Some families have the equipment and prefer to tent or camp in an RV while others can stay in the comforts of a cabin or park model whatever suits their needs and family size," Schwartz said.

Groups can unitize a combination of RV/tent and cabin sites for their full family, she suggested.

"RV's today, with slideouts that extend the living space and fold down beds can accommodate more sleepers as do cabins with multiple beds and larger kitchen and living spaces," Schwartz said.

Preparing to camp for the first time can be as simple as making a reservation and packing your family's favorite meals, snacks and recreational gear, along with a few essentials to ensure you are prepared for anything, Schwartz said.

First-timers can jump right into the camping experience at one of the many participating Pennsylvania State Parks, too.

Some are offering first-time campers a way to try it out with a discount for a two-night stay and providing some of the essential gear.

"This is the fifth year we are offering this hands-on instruction on camping," Cindy Adams Dunn, acting secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said. "You can't beat this offer as far as the cost. Campers get the opportunity to enjoy many other activities at our state parks such as hiking and fishing, and a park staffer even will help them set up camp."

According to DCNR this includes a four-person tent; rain tarp; four sleeping pads; four camp chairs; flashlight; lantern; camp stove; and four hot dog/marshmallow sticks. All items must be returned upon departure.

Participants need to bring their own food, cooking utensils and bedding. Suggested packing lists are provided.

Go online to www.gocampingamerica.com or www.dcnr.stat.pa.us for more information or camping reservations.

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