Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.75 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Heading Out: A History of American Camping Hardcover – June 6, 2017
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Has America seen its heyday of camping peak? Is sleeping under the stars now on a slow downward trajectory, not unlike the dying flames of a campfire? That’s one of the questions Terence Young examines in this heavily footnoted text tracing the history of camping in the United States.... Trends in modern camping are just one intriguing aspect of this text.... Heading Out also touches on the end of segregated campgrounds and how the loop campgrounds you find in the National Park System came about."(National Parks Traveler)
"Heading Out is full of original research and insight about the history of camping in the United States. Backpackers, campers, RV enthusiasts, and others with an interest in the history of their pastimes will find this book fascinating."(Philip Terrie, Bowling Green State University, author of Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks)
"From William 'Adirondack' Murray to automobile camping to national parks to RVs, Heading Out provides an engaging overview of the American infatuation with camping. Anyone who has ever pitched a tent or hooked up the family Winnebago will enjoy Terence Young's book."(Thomas A. Chambers, Niagara University, author of Memories of War: Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early American Republic)
About the Author
Terence Young is Professor of Geography at California State Polytechnic University. He is the author of Building San Francisco's Parks, 1850–1930 and coeditor of The Theme Park Landscapes: Antecedents and Variations.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
American camping started as a salve to comfort the wounds caused by the nation's rapid industrialization and urbanization. It's no wonder then that its birthplace was the Adirondacks, which (thanks to the fruits of that industrialization) was now within reach of the better classes of huddled masses in New York, Boston and other population centers.
But from the beginning there has been a tug-of-war between two opposing forces: the desire for authenticity, to "rough it," and the desire to remove some of the discomfort and unpredictability of camping, what Young calls "McDonaldization." (I don't care for this term; it's clunky. I have tried, in vain, to come up with something better. The best I could do was "commodification," which is just as bad.)
You don't need to study the subject to know he's right. I was perhaps my most authentic camper in my early 20s, taking the occasional solo winter backpacking trip, though only for a night or two. Over the years I got better equipment but camped less. When I had kids, I started car camping several times a year, in a tent, sneering over my homemade chuck box and two-burner Coleman gas stove at the people two sites over in their trailer. The bigger the camper, the bigger my feeling of superiority. I once looked in the window of an RV that had a TV bigger than mine at home. "What are you doing here?" I wondered. "You can watch TV at home." It turns out that that sense of being different from home is a key to the camping experience for many other people, too. It's part of the "authentic" experience.
But authenticity is relative. After all, I camp at a campgrounds these days.
At the end, Young cites statistics that suggest camping is in decline. He posits that this may be true because our cities have become more livable, that we have brought elements of the woods into the city and our need for escape is less dire than 100 years ago. When I moved to Roanoke, Va., more than 20 years ago, there was no woodland trail to the top of Mill Mountain. There is now and it has parking at both ends. We have added a great greenway system that continues to be expanded. Once a year we have an outdoors festival. And people are finally starting to catch on that a city in a valley between the Blue Ridge Parkway to the east and the Appalachian Trail to the west might want to market itself to the outdoorsy set.
It isn't discussed, but I wonder if the decline is due in any part to the aging of the Baby Boom. Last weekend I went camping by myself for the first time in years because my kids, now in their teens, no longer have much interest in anyplace that doesn't have Wi-Fi. I still find the woods restorative, but as I get older the idea of not having to set up a tent by myself takes on more luster. I never pass a VW Westphalia without a covetous look.
Perhaps a little McDonaldization is not so bad.
Young is an expert guide, and his writing makes the topic feel intimate—as if recalled by the warmth and light of an evening campfire—and epic all at once. One by one, he introduces the key protagonists who have played a part in shaping the practice of camping: the reverend William H.H. Murray, for example, whose enthusiastic writings about the time he had spent "roughing it" in the Adirondacks during the 1860s led to an initial surge of popular interest; the plant pathologist Emilio Meinecke, who in the 1920s defined the standards for campground design that remain in use today; the Interior Department official William J. Trent Jr., whose tireless advocacy throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s led to the desegregation of campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park; and the colorful Wally Byam, developer of the iconic Airstream trailer in 1932, only to name a few.
Yet, as the title suggests, 'Heading Out' is about much more too: Young makes the case for the restorative possibilities of camping as a form of pilgrimage, a socially- and culturally-engaged practice that takes us outside of our “customary world” in a search for “meaningful transformation”. One of the aspects I found most compelling are the dozens of first-hand historical narratives the author shares with us throughout the book: Mary Bradshaw Richard’s 1882 trip to Yellowstone or Melville Ferguson and his family’s one year, 18,000 mile trailer camping adventure between 1923 and 1924, are only some of the wonderful stories the author shares with us, and which bring additional weight and depth to the story. Through their eyes and their words, Young manages to connect the reader’s own perceptions about the practice of camping (as a backpacker, an RVer, or an autocamper, perhaps, a novice or an experienced outdoorsman) to those of others who have occupied the same campsites decades before.
Borrowing from the sociologist George Ritzer, Young uses a wonderfully expressive term—McDonalization—to express the never-ending drive towards the standardization of equipment, amenities, and place-making that have permeated the practice since it emerged in the decades following the Civil War. This kind of tension--between the ideal of roughing it and the luxuries that characterize much of modern campgrounds, between cities and nature, between the personal and the universal--is one of the driving themes of the book. In this regard, 'Heading Out 'will be of interest not only to camping enthusiasts but to a much broader audience interested in landscape, recreation, tourism, technology, history, culture, and politics. A wonderful read!
This book describes the advent of camping before and after cars, escaping urbanization and visiting national parks (yet encountering regulations from the NPS), little-known cases against segregation (I adored this part of the book the most and wanted to read even about more of it), outfitters (like Coleman and Abercrombie & Fitch, and how a camper can create the most ideal, ready for anything kit), camper trailers and the decline of campground vacations (technology/predictability).