A new slow-tourism concept called “champing”—camping in churches—is on the rise in the UK.
The Churches Conservation Trust in the United Kingdom has introduced a new slow-tourism escape it calls “champing”—a play on words for camping in churches. The initiative draws funds to historic countryside churches that open their doors to adventurous travelers. Like many Airbnb guests worldwide, “champers” are searching for an authentic local experience.
The concept is already proving popular, with 150 bookings scheduled at the opening of the 2015 British camping season. After a positive response to the 2014 launch at the 13th-century All Saints’ Church in Northamptonshire, the Trust has added two more unused English churches to the program, offering campers the exclusive use of a magnificent consecrated building for £60 ($95) per person per night, including breakfast. A shrewd employment of the Trust’s own resources, this revenue-generating program helps the charity deliver on its mission to save 347 at-risk landmark churches that in some cases date back as far as a thousand years.
Each of the three locations is presented as a unique destination with its own architectural beauty, ancient grounds, and village stories. Guests are served breakfast prepared with local ingredients and can arrange leisure walks, canoeing expeditions and meditation during their stay. Although tranquil, accommodations are austere, with grooming facilities limited to a water basin and camping toilet.
Placing an emphasis on authenticity rather than luxury, the Trust successfully taps into our desire to invest in exceptional experiences rather than lavish material goods—a consumer trend we’ve called “Buying the Experience” in our 10 Years of 10 Trends report. What’s more, camping in churches offers a mindful retreat away from hectic modern life. The growing popularity of champing is yet another example of mainstream spiritualism gaining momentum, as forecasted in “The ‘Now’ Age” in this year’s Future 100 report.
Image credit: Guardian