A survey from The Dyrt, an app for camping information and booking, found that 14.8% of campers are veterans or active military. That number is twice the total percentage of veterans (6.4%) and active duty military (<1%) in the entire U.S. population.
The survey of 4,000 campers was fielded late last month as part of the company’s annual Camping Report, which is due to be published in early 2024. (See the 2023 Camping Report here.)
“When I saw the results of the survey, the number of veterans who camp jumped out at me,” said The Dyrt CEO Kevin Long. “This was the first year that we asked the question. I knew that veterans camped, but I wasn’t expecting to see so many. We decided that it was an important stat to get out there in time for Veterans Day.”
In another, concurrent survey of property owners in the camping industry across all 50 states, 13.4% said that they had served or currently serve in the military. The Dyrt profiled four veteran camping property owners on its website in a Veterans Day feature and found that their service helped when running their business.
“He’s a jack of all trades, and much of that comes from the military,” says Sheila Cook, of her Air Force veteran husband James Cook, with whom she runs Gasconade Hills Resort with 54 RV and tent sites in Richland, Missouri. “(It) prepared him for what he does today: Fast, critical thinking; maneuvering and managing things; operating large pieces of equipment; and all the little odd jobs. He’s the IT guy, the plumber, the electrician, the landscaper, the float operator… that’s just to name a few.”
In addition to being more likely to be campers, the survey also found that veterans tend to be fairly avid campers. Veterans and active military who took the survey camped 22.8% more nights in 2023 than the survey average. Those with a military history were also more likely to use RVs as their primary type of camping, 33.1% more than the survey average.
“At the end of the day, we have all this great land,” says Landon Dooley, who served in the Army and owns the Enchanted Circle Campground in Angel Fire, New Mexico. “If you take a bunch of veterans out and get into a little more intimate of an environment, I feel like a lot more healing can be done.”