Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Happy Campers? the Relationships between Leisure Functioning, Serious Leisure, and Happiness

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Happy Campers? the Relationships between Leisure Functioning, Serious Leisure, and Happiness

Article excerpt

Camping is an emerging leisure activity in Korea in that the number of camping sites has risen from 1,126 in 2012 to 2,281 in 2019 (Korea Tourism Organization, 2019), indicating a rapid increase in interest and demand. Camping is an outdoor activity for individuals motivated by a desire for spending time away from high-rise buildings and busy city life (Brooker & Joppe, 2013; Morrow, Rodriguez, & King, 2014; Pretty, Peacock, Sellens, & Griffin, 2005). Most Koreans' daily lives involve an automated and complex urban environment. As work-life balance has become a social phenomenon in Korea (Korea Ministry of Employment and Labor, 2018; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2015), camping can be considered a leisure activity that leads to a healthy and happy life.

The well-being that is experienced through camping, as a form of green exercise, enhances emotional connections and positive interactions among campers (Morrow et al., 2014; Pretty et al., 2005). Leisure activities, such as camping, enrich personal freedom, promote positive self-development and social relationships, and improve quality of life and happiness (J. Kim, Heo, Lee, & Kim, 2015; Morrow et al., 2014). Further, the extent to which an individual systematically pursues a specific leisure activity (i.e., serious leisure) is influenced by the perceived value and quality of that leisure activity (i.e., leisure functioning) and influences the level of perceived happiness (J. Kim et al., 2015). In Korea, as there is a high level of urbanization (82% living in urban areas), and high population density (513 people/km2), 75.6% of Koreans inhabit multidwelling units, such as high-rise apartment buildings and mixed-use buildings, most of which lack green spaces (Statistics Korea, 2018). Thus, we investigated the causal relationships between leisure functioning, serious leisure, and happiness among campers.

Literature Review and Hypothesis Development

Leisure Functioning

Leisure functioning is the ability to truly enjoy the quality of leisure during personal leisure time (S. H. Kim, 2010). It can be also defined as "how an individual feels about his or her experiences and the kind of outcome that results from these experiences" (Pondé & Caroso, 2003, p. 73). In the current study, we operationalized leisure functioning as perceived freedom in the leisure activity of camping, which involves leisure needs, playfulness, perceived leisure control, and perceived leisure competence (Link & Williams, 2017; Witt & Ellis, 1984).

Baek and Shim (2011) claimed that leisure experience indirectly influences continued participation through the mediator of leisure functioning, and leisure functioning has an indirect effect on continued participation through the mediator of flow experience. Cho and Kim (2007) stated that the positive experience of leisure activities leads to continued engagement in leisure and higher life satisfaction. Overall, it has been found (J. Kim et al., 2015; Morrow et al., 2014) that higher leisure functioning leads to greater leisure involvement (i.e., serious leisure) and subjective well-being (i.e., happiness).

Serious Leisure

Serious leisure is defined as "the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity that participants find so substantial and interesting that, in the typical case, they launch themselves on a [leisure] career centered on acquiring and expressing its special skills, knowledge, and experience" (Stebbins, 1992, p. 3). It comprises six qualities: perseverance, career development, significant effort, durable benefits, unique ethos, and strong identification (Stebbins, 1992).

M. L. Kim, Kim, and Gwon (2012) examined the relationships between recreation specialization, leisure satisfaction, and subjective happiness, and found that serious leisure is a moderator. In addition, Lee and Kim (2011) found that serious leisure both directly and indirectly influences subjective happiness, and also positively influences the level of recreation specialization. …

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