Masters Theses


Tim W. McCall

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Kerry F. Schell

Committee Members

John C. Rennie, Sam Venable


The main objective of this study was to discover why campers select certain heavily used campgrounds, when other, apparently similar types are available. Prior explanations for this phenomenon included status motives which are associated with visits to certain campgrounds, preferences which are based on elements other than the characteristics and facilities of the campground itself, and a lack of knowledge about other campgrounds. Data for this study were obtained by a questionnaire and a personal interview with recreation users in the campgrounds of selected areas. A list of questions was developed that would provide the desired data. Four different types of recreation areas were selected to get observations. These were in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, The Cherokee National Forest, the State Park system in east Tennessee, and private campgrounds. A total of 628 interviews were completed during 72 visits to the campgrounds in the study. Chi-squared tests, the Newman-Keuls procedure, and analysis of variance were used to test various relationships of socioeconomic data with attitudes and use patterns. In most cases simple frequency distributions and percentages sufficed. In all statistical analysis, each observation was statistically weighted by the number of occupied sites in the area at the time of the observation.The study findings supported the expected reasons for the popularity of campgrounds. However, the study revealed other possible reasons. One of these was that many campers indicated they selected a certain area because they had confidence in recommendations made by friends and other campers. Another reason that could cause the overcrowded conditions in some parks is the general information available to campers which tends to guide them to these areas. It was also found that what many administrators and some campers considered as overcrowding was simply the ideal number for other users. Finally, many campers gave the answer of the kinds and number of facilities provided in an area as a reason for picking a certain campground. With the right kind of information available it should be easier to encourage campers to stay away from the more crowded campgrounds during the busier seasons. In conclusion, this study did not reveal any other reasons for overcrowding in the Smoky Mountains National Park other than those already expected before the study, i.e., the status motive preferences, per se, to stay in certain areas, and the confidence placed in personal recommendations. Apparent inconsistencies in some responses Abou preferences suggest that sociological and psychological investigations are needed that could give some insight as to the basic motivations of recreation users.

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