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Campgrounds See Controversial Increase in Wi-Fi Availability

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WASHINGTON, July 13, 2010- Campgrounds are increasingly becoming more connected to internet and cell phone service, making some visitors feel like they cannot escape their work and responsibilities.

Companies that provide Wi-Fi connections to campgrounds are seeing gains in business from these outdoor recreation sites. Campers can now watch videos, stay connected to their favorite social networking sites, and reply to their email from the comfort of their tents at many campgrounds.

According to the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, not all campground patrons are happy about the change. Jessee Howry says that being disconnected allows her to bond with her family, and “You can watch your children turn into different people when they’re not connected to that phone.” Even so, Howry says she still uses the Wi-Fi connection offered at campgrounds to check in with those watching her house and other family members.

According to Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, many campgrounds risk losing business to competitors if they do not provide Wi-Fi connections. She also said businesses expect their employees to be available at all times, and many business owners feel very uncomfortable not being able to check up on their operations.

Some will not even entertain the thought of camping at a site without an internet connection or cell phone service. In addition to competing with other campgrounds, places that have Wi-Fi are likely to attract campers who stay longer because they do not feel so disconnected.

Jim Ganley, managing partner of Portland, Me.-based CheckBox Systems LLC, says that campgrounds without Wi-Fi, or “primitive” camping, is becoming a smaller part of the market. He also said that 20 percent of his business in the last year was from remote campgrounds installing Wi-Fi for the first time. The rest of his business came from updating campgrounds’ existing Wi-Fi to include more gaming capabilities and internet phone calling service.

Lindsey is working with through an internship with the National Journalism Center. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in professional writing. She has worked in Virginia Tech's public affairs department, and she was an assistant editor of one of the college's news-magazines. Lindsey is from Chatham, Va.

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