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It’s a hard thing to say in the year in which the Scout Movement is celebrating its centenary, but something fundamental has shifted in public perception of what camping’s all about. We are experiencing the rise of glamorous camping — a term condensed in the current fashion to glamping. Its proponents declare camping no longer means leaky tents, unlightable campfires, smelly toilets and lumpy ground to lie on. Instead, luxury accommodation is available that can include — apart from neat tents with comfortable beds, duvets and carpeted floors — amenities such as power for your PlayStations and hair dryers. A few high-end glamping sites even have swimming pools, restaurants, four-star baths and camp butlers to light fires and generally meet every need. It seems to be the fault of us effete Europeans (at least, that’s what US newspapers say), especially such fashionable glampers as Kate Moss and Sienna Miller who attend festivals like Glastonbury but want to avoid the mud and mess. This year, British retailer Marks & Spencer has even brought out a special line in glamping tents, which includes floral tent pegs. Floral tent pegs? Baden-Powell must be turning in his grave.

It’s known as “glamping,” or glamorous camping, a British import inspired by A-listers who wanted to be in touch with nature without touching the dirt and dishes.

Seattle Times, 30 May 2007

The number of visits to U.S. national parks is declining, but “glamping” — glamorous camping — is on the rise in North America after gaining popularity among wealthy travelers in Africa and England, where luxury tents come with Persian rugs and electricity to power blow dryers.

Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2007

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 8 Sep. 2007

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 8 September 2007.