What will the campground of the future look like? How will technology and capitol investments impact the camping experience? Will all campgrounds be powered by solar? Will camping in cities and urban areas become more popular–and practical? What about “geofencing” technology? Will it improve the reservation and check in experience–or will it depersonalize and diminish customer service? Will the next generation of campers continue to want group camping experiences and communal areas and shared sites? Or will they want privacy and solitude à la Thoreau?
Our friends at Kampgrounds of America sought to explore all of these questions and many more in their “Campground of the Future Project” which made its debut at RVX in Salt Lake City this past March. The project, which is ongoing, envisions what campgrounds will look like in the year 2030 in five different “concepts.” These five concepts are Forest, Coastal, Desert, Mountain, and Urban.
To listen to Stephanie and Jeremy’s interview with KOA’s President and CEO, Toby O’Rourke, about KOA’s vision for the campground of the future click on the media player at the top or search for The RV Atlas in your favorite podcast app. To see more images and learn more about KOA’s “Campground of the Future” project head over to campthefuture.com.
Are KOA’s Campground Of The Future Concepts Far-Fetched? Or Right Around The Corner?
Attendees of the exhibit at RVX were invited to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and tour all five concepts. The virtual tour was quirky, creative, and sometimes even whimsical. Some of the concepts seemed far-fetched at first glance. For example, KOA’s “Coastal Region” envisions “camping over the water on ‘camping causeways,’ or even under the water in unique below-the-surface Cabins.”
But upon further inspection these “concepts” don’t seem too far-fetched at all. Creating “causeways” at coastal campgrounds would create more waterfront sites and better water access for those, like us, that love to kayak, SUP, and surf when we go camping. I really don’t find the concept of “under the water” cabins that far-fetched either. Aquariums have rooms like this. We not campgrounds? These cabins would cost more, but we think people would pay more for the unique experience.
To listen to Stephanie and Jeremy’s interview with KOA’s President and CEO, Toby O’Rourke, about KOA’s vision for the campground of the future click on the media player at the top. To see more images and learn more about KOA’s “Campground of the Future” project head over to campthefuture.com.
In Some Cases, The Campground of the Future Is Now
Other concept regions, such as “Desert,” don’t seem to be from the future–but from right now. At least at select KOA locations:) The desert concept includes “large solar arrays [which] will provide both power and shade to campers.” The Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort in Arizona has a set-up like this right now. In this case, it is actually hard to imagine this particular concept NOT becoming more widespread in the near future. Using solar “arrays’ like the one in the picture above from the aforementioned campground seem like a win/win for me. Campground owners will reap savings and can take pride in being good environmental stewards. Campers can tap into the solar for their own use and enjoy relaxing in the shade in desert locations. You won’t even have to roll the awning out!
More Urban Camping Please!
We were both particularly interested in KOA’s Urban camping concept. We love camping in and around cities. Not every city has a campground within striking distance, but a surprising many do. We love Cherry Hill right outside of Washington D.C. and we recently returned from a terrific stay at the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA about 10-15 minutes away from the Holy City’s downtown area. Our podcast listeners are often surprised when we talk about camping right outside of NYC or Philadelphia. But both of these great American cities have camping options nearby. KOA’s Urban campground concept includes “environmentally friendly green space family and group activities, pet-friendly off-leash areas and maximum utilization of a smaller urban campground footprint.” We love this sooooo much. And how about urban campgrounds that “take advantage of building rooftops to extend the camping experience.” Sign us up now!
This kind of urban camping concept will probably be pretty darn expensive. Hotels maximize profits by scaling upwards. But why couldn’t campgrounds do the same? If we can build “below the surface cabins” with under water views why can’t we build multiple level campgrounds in urban destinations? Today’s RV owner wants to be able to go anywhere that any other traveler can go. KOA’s Campground of the Future concepts make that notion seem totally possible in the future.
In fact, we are convinced it is all right around the corner…
See you at the campground!