Participation in Outdoor Recreation Activities Reaches Highest Level in Six Years

June 5, 2013

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Stasia Raines
sraines@outdoorfoundation.org
(619) 957-9891


Washington, D.C.

Participation in Outdoor Recreation Activities Reaches Highest Level in Six Years
Almost Half of All Americans Participated in Outdoor Activities in 2012

Participation in outdoor recreation reached a six-year high in 2012 with nearly 50 percent of Americans ages six and older taking part in at least one of the 43 outdoor activities included in the report. This percentage equates to 141.9 million American outdoor participants, reflecting an increase of nearly a million people compared to 2011. In addition, outdoor participants were more active in 2012 than in past years, taking an average of 87.4 outdoor outings per participant for a total 12.4 billion outings. Overall, more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2012 than in any year since The Outdoor Foundation began measuring participation six years ago, perhaps signaling a move toward healthier, more active lifestyles.

These findings are part of The Outdoor Foundation’s 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, the leading report tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth, young adults, diversity and the future of the outdoors.

Participation rates by age remained consistent in most categories from 2011 to 2012 — a testament to the resilience of outdoor participation in uncertain economic times. Participation rates among younger generations remained steady yet are still significantly lower than they were in 2006. Young participants are also less diverse than the nation’s population as a whole. In 2012, 71 percent of youth and young adult participants were non-Hispanic Caucasian – not reflective of the nations increasingly diverse population.

“We are greatly encouraged by the growing number of people getting outside,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation.  “Moving forward, a continued growth strategy focused on today’s youth and future generations of outdoor participants is critical to reconnecting Americans with nature and healthier lifestyles.”

When averaging the year-to-year changes in participation for specific outdoor activities over the past three years, multisport activities, such as triathlons and adventure racing, have experienced the largest average annual increases in participation. Activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, camping, RV camping, and rafting have all experienced the largest average annual decreases.

The report is based on an online survey of more than 42,000 Americans ages six and older and covers over 40 different activities, making it the largest survey of its kind. To download a complete copy of the 2013 Outdoor Recreation Topline Participation Report, visit The Outdoor Foundation website at outdoorfoundation.org/research.

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About the Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, action oriented outreach, and education programs, the Foundation works with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation, a pioneering initiative that aims to empower young leaders to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities across the United States. For more information visit: OutdoorFoundation.org and OutdoorNation.org.

Additional Background
Over the last several decades, American youth have become increasingly alienated from the natural world, contributing to the national crisis in children’s health as well as the considerable decline in environmental literacy. In 2005, Richard Louv published his seminal work, Last Child in the Woods, which highlighted the separation of young people from nature and engaged many stakeholders in a meaningful discussion about ways to address this nature deficit disorder. But these conversations largely overlooked the most important stakeholder group essential to success: young people. To address this major oversight and capitalize on the extraordinary opportunity, The Outdoor Foundation launched Outdoor Nation to empower Millennials to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities.

In June 2010, Outdoor Nation convened the largest and most diverse National Summit on the Outdoors in New York’s Central Park, bringing together 500 young leaders from across the country to set a national agenda, outline top priorities and commit to youth-led actions. In 2011, a movement was on the move. Building on the momentum, Outdoor Nation hosted five Regional Summits — bringing together more than one thousand young people to identify top outdoors issues, brainstorm impactful solutions and ultimately commit to championing change on campuses and in communities. Over the last year, Outdoor Nation has invested more than $250,000 into youth-led projects that reconnect a new generation with the outdoors.