Fewer Folks in the Boundary Waters
There have been quite a few changes in the over 20 years we have owned Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. A few of these changes have been documented by the USFS. Visitors to the BWCA are on average older than they used to be. We’ve noticed this as well as the difference in the kind of trip people take. Many people choose to just camp on the entry point lake or one lake in instead of traveling farther into the wilderness.
The average age of the visitor to the BWCA and other wilderness areas is getting higher. According to a study done about visitors to the Boundary Waters the average age in 1969 was 26 years old, in 1991 it was 36 years old and in 2007 the average age was 43 years old. This is an alarming but not surprising trend.
These digital days it’s difficult to get kids outside. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that people ages 8-18 spent an average of 7 ½ hours a day on digital media. Kids are glued to computer screens, have their fingers stuck to Game Boys and their ears plugged in to iPods listening to music. They can barely make it through a meal without texting a friend so how can one expect them to leave all of their electronics for a canoe trip into the BWCA?
The number of students visiting the BWCA has also decreased. In 1969 47% of the visitors were students, in 1991 18% and in 2007 11% were students. Stricter school rules, fears of getting sued and busy summer schedules are keeping groups of students out of the Boundary Waters.
Fewer and fewer people are spending time in the great outdoors and it’s not just in the BWCA. “Without a generation of kids who have had good experiences with national parks, then in a very short amount of time, we may not have enough people who care about national parks to keep them going.” Says John Hayes of the Dunes Learning Center at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
There are so many benefits of spending time in the wilderness. It’s sad to think of what these children are missing by not having the opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors. This trend needs to change and that’s one of the reasons we offer very affordable rates for families with children and youth groups of every kind.
For a more recent report of BWCA statistics read an article by Sam Cook.