JACKSON CENTER – Airstream, the most iconic and longest‑tenured travel trailer manufacturer in America and subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE:THO), has announced participation during this year’s Great Outdoors Month to discuss ways to sustain the role of these campgrounds as a gateway to life-long experiences in the outdoors. President Bob Wheeler, joining other top recreation leaders from the public and private sectors, will discuss the future of National Park campgrounds and the issues the parks and other federal lands face as the nation’s demography and lifestyles change.
“National Park Campgrounds of the Future” is being organized by Airstream as well as The Coleman Company, both taking an active part in the Centennial of the National Park Service as well as the Great Outdoors Western Campout.
Wheeler will host the session on June 13 at Jackson Lake Lodge. According to Wheeler, “Two thoughtful and experienced recreation leaders will moderate the meeting. Mike Schneider has been a leader in the RV and camping community for more than 30 years involved in publishing and membership organizations and more. And David Vela, currently Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, has been an innovator and advocate for outreach to segments of the American public largely unconnected to our legacy of parks in key roles for the National Park Service at the local, regional and national levels.
The meeting will include presentations on key studies and marketing reports. Pat Hittmeier, President and CEO of Kampgrounds of America, Inc., will share findings of its 2016 North American Camping Report. The report showed that more than one million households in North America started camping in 2015 and that African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American representation among new campers closely matches overall population percentages. The KOA report is available at http://koa.uberflip.com/i/654141-2016-north-american-camper-report
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) will share its new report showing that use of state and private sector campgrounds has grown in recent years, in contrast to the trend at federal sites. According to RVIA, the discrepancy is attributable to campground design, management and marketing. Even where park campground occupancy is high, according to RVIA, guest satisfaction is harmed by campgrounds built to 1960s standards. Many park campgrounds lack showers, Wi-Fi, utility hook-ups for RVs and “pull-through” sites, food and stores for basic camper needs.
According to American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall, utilizing existing public investment in campgrounds at federally-managed sites makes great sense. He noted that participants in the Wyoming session will include state park directors that rely on campgrounds to generate substantial portions of their operating budgets.
“There are lessons to be learned and experiences to be shared. National park campgrounds can be a very important gateway to the Great Outdoors for 21st Century Americans – offering economical, inspirational and bonding experiences. Existing legislation keeps campground fees in the collecting parks, whether they are operated by the agency of a concessioner, so as use increases, park budgets will benefit,” according to Crandall.
Crandall explained that many of those who will take part in the June 13 session will be in the area to support the Great Outdoors Western Campout, which will provide up to 20 families selected by western Governors to enjoy a four day experience in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Bridger Teton National Forest and other locations in the Jackson, WY, area. The Campout was conceived by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, co-winner of the 2015 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award and chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, which will be holding its summer meeting simultaneously with the Campout. Information the Great Outdoors Western Campout and Governor’s Campouts scheduled for June in some 20 states is available at www.greatoutdoorsmonth.org.
Airstream and Coleman will issue a report on the discussions at the session and anticipate that additional meetings on this topic will be held. Interested organizations may make recommendations for consideration by the next administration, taking office in January 2017.