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40 million people go camping in the U.S.

If it seemed a little crowded around the communal campfire last summer, here’s why.

Forty million people went camping in 2010 for a total of 515 million outings. That number represents about 14 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 6. Families with kids are twice as likely to take a camping trip as families who don’t have children.

Campers are pretty hard-core. They don’t go camping just once or twice a year; on average they go five or six times for a total of 13 days, according to a report by The Outdoor Foundation, Coleman and KOA. Most of those trips are made in the summer, and most camping is done in public campgrounds.

Although camping is an inexpensive alternative for a family vacation – and some consider it recession-proof – the report says the number of campers and camping trips in 2010 were about 10 percent less than in 2009. People who responded to the survey said they planned to camp even less this year. So you may see fewer people at your campfire.

Here are some of the report’s other findings:

*The most popular form of camping is by tent, with 86 percent of people who responded to a survey saying they did tent camping. Thirty-three percent said they did cabin camping; 30 percent did backcountry/backpacking; 26 percent chose a drive-up campsite; 24 percent went in their RV; 11 percent camped in a backyard, 8 percent slept under the stars and 2 percent slept in a yurt. These numbers add up to more than 100 percent because many participants took more than one kind of camping trip.

*Highest camping participation is in the mountain west, where 25 percent of people camp. Lowest is in the south Atlantic, where only 9 percent go camping.

*Nearly two-thirds of car campers drove two hours or less to get to their campsite; RV campers tended to drive further.

*Hiking is the most popular activity among campers; 92 percent said they hiked. The next most popular activities on a camping trip are running or jogging, fishing, canoeing, bicycling and kayaking. Only 1 percent said they didn’t participate in any other activity.

*Most camping – about 70 percent – is done in public campgrounds; about 11 percent is in private campgrounds. The rest is in backyards, at temporary campgrounds for a festival or other event, or elsewhere.

*Seventy percent of all camping trips are taken with friends.

Meantime, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds earlier noted a couple of other camping trends: Some private campgrounds are adding rental accommodations, such as cabins and RVs, so you don’t have to bring your own. And families are increasingly using campgrounds as a venue for reunions.