Bringing outdoor pursuits to the comfort of your own home
Just setting up a foldable camping table and camping chairs on your terrace can keep the coronavirus blues at bay. Some go even further and set up tents in the middle of their living rooms. Instead of turning on the television, a projector is set up and simple classic camping food is served.
Despite being indoors, a similar ambiance can be created, and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic people feel safer indulging in the pleasures of camping at home rather than visiting camp sites.
Nam Jeong-min, 34, a mother of two children who are 10 and six, set up a tent in her living room. She took up outdoor pursuits about a year ago and has all the gear needed for camping, but hasn't been able to make much use of it in recent months due to the pandemic.
Instead, Nam has been gathering her family together inside the tent in her living room. They watch films using a projector and eat the same food that they would if they were actually camping. The children are especially fond of the newly changed living room.
“We use a camping burner to cook simple food we like such as tteokbokki [spicy rice cakes]. It’s nice to feel like we’re out in nature,” said Nam.
Lee Hyeon-ah, 33, transformed a small room in her home into a camping room.
Lee and her husband are avid campers so they dedicated the room to store their camping gear in June. As the coronavirus showed no sign of letting up, the couple began spending their spare time in their special camping room.
A small, white tent is set up on the floor that is covered with wood tiles. When the main light of the room is turned off and camping lights are on, the mood is complete.
“I see some of the reservations I made for camping sites have been canceled due to the coronavirus. In that case, we comfort ourselves with camping at home,” said Lee.
Cho Su-jeong, 31, who walked down the aisle in March, is a novice camper. But the beginner found it particularly difficult to purchase the gear she needed as most of it was sold out due to the unusually high popularity of camping this year with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Cho simply wanted to try out some camping gear indoors before heading outside. She set up tables, chairs, parasols and lights. Cho said lanterns are a must-have item for those who want to enjoy camping at home. “What I did was simply put a lantern on the camping table and strangely enough it helped me relax and put my mind at ease.
“My husband and I used to watch TV or look at our smartphones, but since we began camping at home we now talk to each other a lot more than we did before,” she added.
While camping has been gaining popularity with people in their 20s, 30s and 40s over the past few years, it has become tremendously popular in recent months as people are being encouraged to spend time in spacious outdoor spaces during the pandemic.
Market research firm Consumer Insight released a survey on Aug. 18 which showed the types of accommodation people prefer during the coronavirus pandemic. As of the second quarter of this year, a majority of survey respondents, 22.7 percent, said they chose to stay in the homes of their friends or families. Before the pandemic, hotels almost always topped the survey, while 4.8 percent said they preferred to camp.
In line with the growing popularity, sales of camping supplies also soared. Between April and May, market insiders said supplies failed to meet the demand.
E-commerce site Gmarket, operated by eBay Korea, said sales of camping chairs, camping tables, tents and tarps all increased between May 1 and Sept. 7, compared to the same period last year. For example, tarps saw a whopping 64 percent increase in sales while camping chairs increased by 48 percent.
But as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has been on the rise since August, the demand for camping has been decreasing. To make matters worse, the longest rainy season on record this summer and frequent typhoons stopped campers from going out. Ardent campers eventually turned to camping at home.
As of Sept. 8, 32,000 posts can be found on Instagram with the hashtag “home camping.”
Realizing that a large number of people were seeking ways to refresh themselves at home, Emart Traders, the leading discount chain, decided to sell camping gear at discounted prices from May to August. Sales of artificial grass, inflatable pools, gas grills and barbecue equipment saw double-digit sales increases compared to the same period a year ago.
As the temperature is beginning to dip in the evenings and the morning air is becoming crisper and cleaner, camping, whether indoors or outdoors, is the perfect activity for all ages to enjoy.
For those who want to take a break but are concerned about maintaining social distance, camping at home is highly recommended.
In terms of equipment, a tent is a good item to start with and as mentioned, many home campers recommend indoor lights or lanterns to set the ambiance.
Lee, who has a camping room in her home, said, “It doesn’t have to be high-quality lights. Just buy string lights. And add a wood table and a Bluetooth speaker. They will add the special camping vibe to your ordinary space.”
BY YOO JI-YOEN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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