camping, recreational activity in which participants take up temporary residence in the outdoors, usually using tents or specially designed or adapted vehicles for shelter. Camping was at one time only a rough, back-to-nature pastime for hardy open-air lovers, but it later became the standard holiday for vast numbers of ordinary families.
The founder of modern recreational camping was Thomas Hiram Holding, who wrote the first edition of The Camper’s Handbook in 1908. His urge to camp derived from his experiences as a boy: in 1853 he crossed the prairies of the United States in a wagon train, covering some 1,200 miles (1,900 km) with a company of 300. In 1877 he camped with a canoe on a cruise in the Highlands of Scotland, and he made a similar trip the next year. He wrote two books on these ventures. Later he used a bicycle as his camping vehicle and wrote Cycle and Camp (1898).