Exciting Things To Do In Luray, VA.

February 18, 2015

By guest bloggers Jeremy & Stephanie Puglisi of RV Family Travel Atlas.

Jellystone Park Luray, in addition to having wonderful amenities and activities on site, is also located within ten minutes of some pretty fun family adventure opportunities. If you can manage to get your kids off of the bounce pad and out of the pool, we highly recommend the following local attractions.


Even though we had seen many pictures of these caverns, we were shocked at how truly spectacular it was to see them in person. Our five year olds kept saying how ‘awesome’ it was, and we couldn’t agree more.

The guided tour takes a little over an hour and covers just over a mile on paved walking paths. You can easily bring a stroller if you are willing to carry it down the flight of stairs at the very beginning and then back up again at the end. The tour includes lots of very interesting information, but also plenty of time to independently explore and appreciate the beauty of the caverns. We felt the pacing was perfect—we didn’t feel rushed at all, but it moved quickly enough to keep our young kids engaged.

Your admission ticket ($24 for adults/ $12 for youths/ free for 5 years and under) includes entrance to the Luray Valley Museum, the Car and Carriage Caravan, and Toy Town Junction. We did not feel like our kids had the attention span for these attractions after the guided tour of the caverns, but if your children are older, they might enjoy wandering through them.

Our boys did, however, LOVE the Rope Adventure Park, where you can get strapped into a harness and enjoy one of the three ropes courses available.


To be honest, this activity did not look like anything super exciting from a distance. It turned out to be a blast, though, with a lot of very engaging challenges and thrills. Max and Theo could have spent hours there, and we had to tear them away for lunch.


Bottom line? Worth the extra money ($9/ $7 under 48 inches) if you or your kids want to enjoy a wild jungle gym experience.

You can also enjoy the Garden Maze or the Gem Sluice for an additional fee. Although the value of these activities will depend on your children’s age and personal interests, we can say that everything at Luray Caverns was extremely clean, and the staff was friendly and efficient.

Luray Caverns is a huge area attraction and can get very crowded during peak travel times. The tours start at 9 am, and it is worth the effort to get there early. We waited only 10 minutes to start our tour, but as we were leaving, the lines were much longer. One of the employees also told us that it quiets down after 4:30 pm as well.


As you can tell, there are many fun things to do in Luray, Va. Another attraction is located right next door to Jellystone Park Luray. You can actually walk on a footpath from the campground to Bear Mountain Ziplines. This adventure course has only been open for a few seasons, but it is clearly a local gem. The staff is friendly and accommodating, willing to teach you how to get into your harness and recommend a good place for sandwiches.

The Mama Bear Zipline has seven zips that bring you through the woods and out across a wide open field. This is a good introductory course for those that have not tried zip lining before. The new Baby Bear High Ropes Course is a great challenge for younger kids, and at $20, this is an affordable and fun way for children to try zip lining in a safe and accessible environment.


The best part about Bear Mountain Ziplines was that it was a quick and low key way to experience this fun activity. Often times zip lining tours can take hours and require you to schedule at least a half day of your vacation around it, with long drives from the offices to the mountain courses. Since Bear Mountain is right next door to the campground, you can easily walk over, zip, and be back in an hour or so.

Hopefully next season Bear Mountain Ziplines will offer a discount for Jellystone Park campers. This would take this from a recommended activity to a “must do” for the family.

The area around Jellystone Park Luray is full of opportunities for adventure, and we already know that our next trip will include tubing, horseback riding, and kayaking. An amazing campground, a national park, and lots of fun things to do in Luray, VA? We will most certainly be back.


Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of RV Family Travel Atlas, a podcast available in the iTunes Store. They spend over 40 nights a year in their RV, traveling with their three young boys Theo, Max, and Wes. You can read more about their adventures at www.rvfamilytravelatlas.com

12 Great Reasons for Camping in Virginia at Jellystone Luray

September 10, 2014

Guest bloggers:  Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi blog about camping and traveling with their three young children at www.livelylittlecampers.com and The Jayco Journal.

Over the last five years we have spent more than 120 nights camping at dozens of campgrounds with our three young boys Max, Theo, and Wes. Well, after four days camping in Virginia at Jellystone Park in Luray, our boys have proclaimed it to be their Favorite. Campground. Ever.

On our first day there we realized it would be possible to have an amazing family getaway without ever leaving the campground. The packed schedule of activities, wonderful amenities, and energetic staff kept our whole family happy from breakfast to bedtime.

Here are our top 12 reasons why your family should choose Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia for your next family camping adventure:

Yogi at Luray Virginia Jellystone


1. Spacious Campsites: Easy to back into, our site was roomy enough for the boys to run and stretch their legs. We also enjoyed the added benefit of being directly across from the playground. This meant that we could relax in our zero gravity chairs while watching them climb and play.
Spacious RV sites Jellystone Luray


2.   Fun and Friendly Staff: Throughout our entire stay, we were incredibly impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. The Rangers were willing to give directions and tips on where to eat. The camp store was well-stocked and run efficiently. The young activities coordinators, such as Ryan Cubbage (pictured above), were warm and welcoming. The staff made our boys feel special from the time we arrived to the time we departed.



3. Cute Crafts and Terrific Tie-Dyes: Everyday this campground offers an opportunity for the kids (and adults!) to get creative. There is always a free craft available during craft time such as the medals we made for Wacky Olympics Week. You can also pay to paint ceramics or color a pillowcase or bag. The prices were very reasonable, so we didn’t have to blink when our boys wanted to try painting the $2 dinosaurs. We have made a lot of campground tie dyes, but the staff at Jellystone Luray helped our boys make their best shirts yet.

Crafts at Jellystone Luray


4. Two Large Pools: The two large pools gave our kids plenty of room to splash, jump, and dive for rings. Our boys are not yet confident swimmers, so we loved the large, shallow kids’ pool with the fun water fountain feature.

Two Large Pools Jellystone Luray


5. Yogi Bear’s Water Zone: The colorful and exciting water zone had plenty of opportunity for imaginative play. Our five year olds loved the slides, and our one year old hung out around the edges, happy to watch the water show in front of him. Next year he will definitely be excited to plunge in.

Yogi Bear's Water Zone Jellystone Luray


6. Wonderful Water Slide: This is a pretty amazing water slide for a campground. Its fast and ridiculously fun for the adults as well as the kids. The best part is there are no long lines for the slide—even on a weekend. Although all of the kids rushed in when it opened in the mornings, for the most part you could walk right up and slide right down.

Waterslide Jellystone Luray
7. Perfect Playground: There are a few separate sections to this playground, so many kids of all different ages can enjoy the equipment without it feeling crowded. We particularly appreciated the smaller enclosed play set, perfect for our 16 month old.  Our boys walked across the moving steps (pictured above) dozens of times each day.

Playground Jellystone Luray VA
8. Two Jumping Pillows: Max and Theo wanted to visit the jumping pillows both before and after any scheduled activity with Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, and Cindy Bear. We probably stopped between 6-8 times a day for a brief but intense aerobic workout. Two pillows meant there was always room for all the kids to comfortably jump. In the late afternoon or evening, you might even get the pillow all to yourself.

Jumping Pillow Jellystone Luray VA

9. Peaceful Mountain Setting: Even though this Jellystone Park was an action packed place for the kids, it was also a deeply relaxing setting for us, since we had panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains no matter where we were on the property. From the morning mountain mist to the evening sunsets, we truly enjoyed the beauty of this campground’s Shenandoah Valley location.

Mountains Jellystone Luray VA

10. Room to Roam: We love it when a campground has a large, grassy common area, and Jellystone Luray delivered on this in spades. Over the course of our stay we saw games of frisbee and catch, families picnicking, and people napping on the grass in front of their cabins. This wide-open field invites families to relax and play together…and isn’t that what vacation is all about?

Room to roam at Jellystone Luray

11. Pancakes with Yogi Bear: On Sunday morning the Cartoon Cafe serves up a fun Pancake Breakfast, attended by Yogi Bear himself. You can order the Yogi (three pancakes) or the Boo Boo (two pancakes) depending on how big of an appetite you worked up during your pre-breakfast jumping pillow session.

Pancakes with Yogi Jellystone Luray VA

12. Tractor Rides: Our boys have been on many tractor rides over the last five camping seasons. This was by far the most fun for them. Yogi Bear and Boo Boo both took turns on the tractor (yes, we went on two rides), but perhaps the best part was the sing along. Both parents and children enjoyed clapping and singing standards such as Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Yankee Doodle, and the Wheels on the Bus.

tractor rides Jellystone Luray VA

Jellystone Park Luray offered more activities and amenities than we could possibly experience over one long weekend. We didn’t even get to the Laser Tag building, and we couldn’t fit Story Time with Boo Boo into our packed schedule. There is always next time.

So what are your family’s favorite things about Jellystone Luray? Let us know what you would add to our list!

Snowbirds, Head South

July 31, 2014





Are you one of those lucky folks who get to flee the frozen north every winter and spend the coldest months of the year staying warm in the South? With scenic, full-service RV parks in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resorts offer snowbirds the perfect winter getaway. You’ll find new friends, lots of amenities and deeply discounted off-season prices. Our parks offer:

  • Highly-rated campgrounds
  • Clean comfort stations
  • Well-maintained grounds
  • Activity centers
  • Convenience stores
  • Large pull-thru sites
  • Concrete pads
  • Nearby attractions
  • Laundry facilities

As you get ready for your winter migration, see if one these campgrounds might be your seasonal home. Check the campgrounds’ websites for special snowbird rates.


Elberta, AL – Fall in love with Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast at our Elberta park, only 20 minutes from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and five miles from Pensacola – in fact, it’s one of only a few RV parks in the Pensacola area. With 43 full-service campsites, free WiFi, a clubhouse and a fully-stocked fishing pond onsite, the Elberta Jellystone Park Camp-Resort is perfect for a winter stay.


Madison, FL – This 125-acre North Florida RV park with its own lake and sandy beach is close to Florida and South Georgia attractions. Its all-natural setting and perfect weather make a quiet, peaceful winter getaway. A pet park, catch-and-release fishing, pools, camp store and snack shop offer plenty to do onsite. Enjoy old-Florida charm and salty breezes in a laid-back atmosphere.


Bremen, GA  – Less than an hour west of the bright lights of Atlanta, our Georgia campground offers a country getaway with easy proximity to city entertainment. This award-winning campground features full hookup RV sites in a lovely, relaxing setting.


Robert, LA – Located within easy driving distance of the Big Easy, Baton Rouge, and the Gulf Coast the Robert Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort offers two fishing lakes, golf cart rental and storage, free WiFi, a convenience store and more.


Memphis, TN (Horn Lake, MS)– Just five minutes from the home of the King, this northern Mississippi park was built in 2007 and offers all the modern conveniences you would expect. It’s the perfect base for exploring Graceland, sampling barbecue, checking out the Beale Street blues scene, and enjoying all the peanut butter and banana sandwiches you can eat. The park is also close to nine Mississippi major casino resorts. All RV sites are full hookup, and the park offers cable TV, free WiFi, and propane.

Pelahatchie, MS – Located east of Jackson, MS, this award-winning park is situated on the peaceful 95-acre Pelahatchie Lake. Lakefront, off-lake and premium RV sites are available, all full hookup with free WiFi. A camp store is onsite for last-minute needs, and the lake is fully stocked for fishing in the cool winter air. A 24-laundromat is also available.

North Carolina

Cherokee, NC  – Nestled deep in the Smoky Mountains, this beautiful park is a peaceful getaway with amazing scenic views. RavenFork River runs the length of the park, and many sites offer a river view; trout streams are also on property. Fire rings and picnic tables come with many RV sites as well. Three bathhouses, a park store, 24-hour laundry room and craft center are onsite. If exploring the area around the Smoky Mountains is your goal, this is your park.

Tabor City, NC – Not far from the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, the Tabor City Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort boasts numerous awards and offers a welcoming home for the season. Perfect for the nature lover, fishing and hiking opportunities abound. Tabor City offers 125 RV sites, all with a fire ring, picnic table, 20/30/50 amp service, cable TV, WiFi, and water/sewer. Enjoy the tranquility of the beach during the uncrowded winter months and get to know the friendly staff at this beautiful park.

South Carolina

Swansea, SC – Find plenty of Southern hospitality on this park’s 43 acres of rolling South Carolina farmland. The accents are sweet and the tea is sweeter!  Catch bass, sunfish and bream in four fully-stocked fishing ponds, and walk the park’s nature trails winding down to the North Edisto River. This pet-friendly campground is found less than half an hour from Columbia, SC and less than an hour from the legendary links of Augusta, GA.


North Texas/Burleson, TX – They say everything is bigger in Texas, and with 248 full hookup RV sites, this park just might prove it. Enjoy all the big city attractions of Dallas/Ft. Worth while soaking up the relaxing country atmosphere at North Texas Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort.

Canyon Lake, TX – Located in breathtaking Texas Hill Country, a half mile from the Guadalupe River and 2 miles from Canyon Lake, the area around our Canyon Lake park offers plenty to do, such as floating and fishing the Guadalupe River, onsite fishing, boating, sailing, or scuba diving; biking trails, hiking trails, Schlitterbahn, and Natural Bridge Caverns. New Braunfels is just 15 minutes away, and San Antonio is a 35 mile drive. The legendary music scene of Austin is less than an hour away, making this a perfect base for exploring all that this area of the Lone Star State has to offer.

Fredericksburg, TX  – Just outside historic Fredericksburg and in the heart of Texas Wine Country, this beautiful park offers an upscale retreat – even the bathhouse has granite tops! Oversize RV sites offer a variety of views and are pet-friendly. Enjoy wine country tours and tastings, explore nearby art galleries, and sample a long list of award-winning restaurants during your stay.

Tyler, TX – Located on 47 acres in the rolling hills of the East Texas Piney Woods north of Tyler, Texas, Whispering Pines is one of the most beautiful parks in the South. With 130 full-hookup RV sites, there’s lots of opportunity to make new friends and enjoy the wide open spaces and clear starry skies of East Texas. Two saltwater swimming pools (one for adults only), a catch-and-release fishing pond, a convenience and gift store, golf cart rentals and more make the award-winning Tyler Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort a great choice.

Waller, TX – Explore Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast from the Lone Star Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort in Waller, 35 miles northwest of the city. A stocked fishing lake, scenic lakeview sites, beautiful landscaping, a park store and more make Tyler a quiet, relaxing getaway.

Wichita Falls, TX  – One of Jellystone Park’s newest additions, this park offers true Texas country on the edge of city convenience! Jellystone Park™ at Coyote Ranch is host to 123 beautiful RV sites (73 pull thru and 50 back in.)A 90-acre fishing pond, wedding chapel, event site complete with catering, two pavilions, two swimming pools, golf cart rentals and free DirecTV are just a few of the things that make this park unique. A dog run is onsite – and you can even book spa treatments at Coyote Ranch. Golf, shopping, top-notch dining, museums and much, much more are nearby.

Owners Overcome Hurdles at New York Camping Resort

June 23, 2013

A love of camping-but no experience running a resort-helped these neophytes turn a rundown New York camping resort into one of the top Jellystone Parks in the country.

Story by Steve Bibler, Woodalls Campground Management

When brothers-in-law Glenn Bracklow and John Lawrence and John’s wife, Heidi (Glenn’s sister), decided in the early 1990s that they wanted to go into the outdoor hospitality business, they had two choices: start from scratch or buy an existing campground.   They chose the latter and in late summer 1991 bought a rundown campground in the Hudson River Valley near Gardiner, N.Y.

Gardiner New York Camping Resort

A former barn now serves as the campground’s office and store.

The facilities were meager, John recalled. There was a single cash register in the office and a pop machine outside. “There were a couple of hookups. The place wasn’t nice,” John says succinctly. But the site had some special features. The Wallkill River bordered the mostly level campground on the east side, thick woods covered a portion of the park and a stately barn and 40-foot silo served as a focal point to the 80-acre property.

They kept the campground open that first fall but when the season ended in October, they began to gut the barn and update the sites, running water lines and 30-amp service to 100 sites. They added an inviting covered porch to the barn – which serves as the office and campground store – thereby creating a popular gathering place for guests to sit and chat.When they reopened in May 1992 as the Lazy River Campground, they had something they could be proud of.   Today, the 170-site Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Lazy River is one of the top Leisure System Inc.’s (LSI) franchises in the country, earning multiple awards from LSI and endearing generations of campers.

The trio was all in their 30s when they bought their campground. They were neophytes in the business: Glenn was a machinist and tool & die maker, John was a homebuilder and Heidi helped in her husband’s business. But they knew they wanted to offer a campground that was neat and tidy that would attract repeat customers. The Lawrences loved to camp and wanted to share their favorite pastime with others.

After just two years in business, the owners chose to join Leisure Systems. John explained, “We thought LSI is a quality establishment and wanted to be part of it. When we were private, people tended to skip over our park. Being part of LSI takes that doubt out of their minds. Getting new people to come here for the first time became easier. Once people have been here, getting them to come back was not a problem.”

Indeed, John figures 50% to 60% of Lazy River’s campers are repeaters. The LSI affiliation helped spread the word well beyond the Hudson Valley. Not only does the campground draw much of its trade from New York and the adjoining states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it also attracts campers from the South and points West.

Read the full story here.

Sturbridge Massachusetts Campground Wins Camping Award

June 17, 2013

James Leaming, manager of the Jellystone Park Sturbridge Massachusetts campground, has been recognized as Operator of the Year by the Jellystone Park franchise system.

The Operator of the Year Award is given in recognition of excellence in management, customer service, inspection scores and growth of business.

“We are so excited to be recognized as Operators of the Year,” said Leaming. “We truly love taking care of our guests, and we’re proud to bring families a great budget-friendly way to enjoy each other and make wonderful memories.”

The closest Massachusetts campground to historic Old Sturbridge Village, the park features full-hookup RV camping, tent camping and rustic cabin rentals. Guests will enjoy the well-stocked private lake with its sandy beach, the Aqua Center with pools, Jacuzzi and waterslide, and an award-winning recreation program featuring movies, mini golf, a video arcade, shuffleboard, a sport court and two playgrounds. Pets are welcome at campsites and cabins (leash and proof of vaccinations required.)

Massachusetts Campground Activities

In 2013, a full schedule of seasonal entertainment kicks off April 19. Plans include live bands, nationally-known impersonators, clowns, magicians, hypnotists, record hops and more, performed live under the stars at the park’s poolside patio lounge.

Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Sturbridge is located at 30 River Road and is open year-round. For more information and reservations 508.347.9570.

New York Camping Resort To Host Wrestling Event to Benefit Autism

June 15, 2013

Families who visit Jellystone Park’s New York Camping Resort in North Hudson on Saturday, June 22, will have a chance to see an entertaining, family oriented wrestling performance by P.A.C. Wrestling.

Proceeds from the 6 to 9 p.m. event will be donated to Upstate NY Autism Awareness (UNYAA), a non-profit group that was formed by dedicated parents of children experiencing the effects of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). UNYAA is a 100 percent volunteer organization based in Queensbury, N.Y. that provides resources and support to over 300 families and children in northern Upstate New York.

Admission to the event is by donation and is open to the public as well as guests spending the weekend at Jellystone Park New York Camping Resort. In addition to the wrestling event, there will also be a 50/50 raffle, basket raffles and concession stands.

Jellystone Park campgrounds are famous for their family-friendly activities, which also include kids crafts, themed weekend activities throughout the camping season and, of course, visits by Yogi the Bear. P.A.C. Wrestling is a non-profit group that provides family shows full of action, drama and comedy with a goal of helping those in need.

Pennsylvania Jellystone Park Earns Top Inspection Award

May 3, 2013

The management team and staff at Jellystone Park campground near Pittsburgh, PA, have been recognized with the Carroll Award, which is presented to the Jellystone Park receiving the highest inspection score among the 79 campgrounds in the Jellystone Park system.  The Carroll Award was presented at the annual meeting of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise system in Cincinnati, Ohio.

pittsburgh jellystone park

Denny Quigley with daughter, Tammy, and granddaughter.

“We are truly honored to win the Carroll Award for 2013,” said owner Denny Quigley, who owns Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest with his wife, Kathy. “We appreciate that the hard work of our staff and their attention to detail is recognized.” The Quigleys run the park with their son Gary and his family.

Nestled in the beautiful countryside of Western Pennsylvania, the family-oriented campground offers shaded, level, generously-sized, full-hookup RV campsites; tent and pop-up campsites; and 12 cabin and yurt vacation rentals – including four brand-new for 2013. Guests will also find the Kozy Club Arena, a special group camping area with 23 campsites clustered around a picnic pavilion and recreation hall – perfect for family reunions, church outings and group gatherings. The pet-friendly resort offers a dog park; two-legged guests will enjoy gem mining, a pool and playground, miniature golf, a game room, hiking trails, bicycle rentals and more. The Quigleys are currently renovating and doubling the size of the park’s office and store.

The Kozy Rest staff constantly strives for improvement, attending educational seminars in the off-season to make sure every guest’s visit is one to remember. In-season (mid-April through October), a full activities schedule with themed weekends ensures family fun. The 2013 calendar includes a Pets-R-Family Weekend (May 3-5); Chocolate Fun Weekend (May 31-June 2); and Zoofari Weekend (August 2-4). Every weekend offers ceramics, bingo, and rides on the park’s train and its beloved fire truck.





PA Campground Hosts Deaf Timberfest

July 18, 2012

From Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

mud wrestling at deaf timberfestWhen Ron Markel attended the world pro lumberjack event 15 years ago, he noticed that there were no interpreters and thus no way for deaf people to participate.

“We decided to found our own world deaf lumberjack (event),” he said in sign language.

Markel, a logger from Williamsport, Md., helped to found the Eastern Deaf Timberfest, a four-day event held this year at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Mill Run in Fayette County. More than 1,000 deaf people were expected to participate by the end of the weekend.

Participants compete in activities including logging contests, water log-rolling, chain saw competitions, ax throwing, pole climbing, darts and horseshoes. The event also featured a Mr. and Ms. Timberfest competition as well as entertainment and activities for children.

This is the 11th Eastern Deaf Timberfest, which started as a yearly event and now is held every two years. It’s held at various locations across the East, and this is its first time in Western Pennsylvania. The event is organized by a committee of volunteers, and it’s held every other year at a different campsite.

On Timberfest off years, a family camp is held.

The vast majority of participants are deaf, Markel said, though a few hearing children of deaf parents participate. Markel and the other participants spoke through volunteer interpreter David Wright of Orange County, Va.

“I am proud of 1,000 deaf people. Deaf power,” Markel said, as he used his hand to cover his ear, then pumped his arm in the air.

As Markel signed, participants nearby practiced climbing a tall wooden pole while others tried their hand at cutting through a hefty log with a chain saw. In both events, participants compete for the best time.

At first, many deaf people didn’t know how to use the tools for the event, Markel said, but they’ve learned and become experts.

Markel, who serves as the event’s logging assistant director, attends workshops and courses to learn about safety guidelines.

“It is completely run by the deaf,” Marie Ann Campbell, the event’s chairwoman, said.

She said she finds Timberfest exciting.

“If it wasn’t for Timberfest, we wouldn’t have the time to be with our friends,” said Campbell, of Charles Town, W.Va.

Attendees travel from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and even the West Coast, she said.

Participants either stay on the campgrounds or at nearby hotels.

Rick Colosimone traveled from Ottawa, Ont., and called the event a “heartfelt” one, full of “warm friendship.”

Bruce Hubbard, one of the founders, said he knows of four other similar events in the nation. Campbell calls him “grandfather of the Timberfest.”

Beth Hortie, executive director of Eastern Deaf Timberfest, said the event brings everyone together talking about wood, relaxing and sharing in fellowship with one another.

“It’s our leisure, recreation activity,” Hortie said.


Delaware Jellystone Park Breaks the Ice Between Tweens and Teens

July 16, 2012

Teena Stout says there’s one question parents always ask when they arrive at the Jellystone Park in Lincoln:

“What am I going to do with my 14-year-old who will not disconnect from the Internet?”

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, of course, are nationally known for having a wide assortment of family friendly activities. But Stout, manager of the Lincoln, Delaware campground , is taking a new approach to prying children away from the Internet.

She recently hired two specialists in childhood education to develop new strategies to engage tweens and teens in activities that encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and participate in a variety of outdoor activities that stimulate their minds as much as their bodies.

The specialists include Jessica Lehr, who recently graduated from the University of Delaware in Newark with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education; and Marcy McKee, a student from Methodist University in North Carolina, who is assisting Jessica in developing new approaches to Jellystone Park’s activity programs.

The activities start on Friday nights, usually with “Hey Rides,” which are designed to break the ice between many of the children who are spending the weekend at the park.

Saturday’s activities often include a variety of relay races and timed scavenger hunts that require the kids to take pictures of various items with their cellphones.

“When we did this over Memorial Day weekend, we thought it would take an hour for the kids to complete the scavenger hunt with their cellphones, but with Jessica’s help, the kids formed teams and we had winners in half an hour,” Stout said.

The park has also developed building block games in which children of different ages are paired up to build igloos and other structures using oversize, styrofoam building blocks. It’s a way to engage older children in teaching younger children how to work cooperatively with others to complete a task.

Stout said these activities break down barriers and help create bonds of friendship that temporarily enable the kids to replace their focus on “being cool” with a focus on simply having fun and participating in park activities, many of which encourage physical activity.

“We want kids to learn how to have fun exercising in fresh air,” Stout said.

Jellystone Park activities also include bicycle parades and themed weekends in which kids and their parents dress up in clothing or costumes that reflect the weekend’s theme. This summer’s themes include a Mardi Gras weekend June 22nd to 24th; a Family Olympics weekend July 13th to 15th, complete with bronze, silver and gold medals for the winning athletes; a Christmas in July weekend July 27th to 29th and a chocolate lovers weekend Aug. 3rd to 5th.

“We get them to do things they would never do at home, and they have fun,” Stout said, adding that when children form friendships in organized activities they are more likely to have more fun when they see the same kids swimming in the swimming pool or going down the waterslides or simply bicycling around the campground.

Jellystone Park also takes pride in establishing a safe and secure environment for families.

“Everything we do is focused on establishing this family community,” Stout said, adding that children are often seen playing basketball until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. before quiet hours are enforced.

The park also has weekend dances and Karaoke competitions. “We know we’ve done well when we see children with tears in their eyes when they leave.”

It’s good for two reasons. For starters, Stout knows they had a good time. It also means they will likely come back!

PA Campground Upgrades & Expands

June 17, 2012

From the Daily Courier, By Rachel Basinger

Campers at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park campground in Mill Run are experiencing the newly constructed 6,500-square-foot space in the most recently developed area at the top end of the resort that houses a store, a restaurant and a deck that overlooks the pool, spray zone and waterslide area.

Each year owner Randy Work tries to commit to adding something new or updating the facilities in some way that will benefit the campers.

“We want to strive to develop and run the best camping facility possible and to do that, we need to continue to expand and offer the unusual camping experience,” he said.

The camping resort had meager beginnings, opening in 1974 as Mill Run Campground with just 40 camping sites.

Today there are more than 200 campsites, 43 cabins, a snowless snowtubing track, ceramics, massage area, night-time movies, scavenger hunts, themed weekends and two water parks.

The lower water park includes a swimming pool, two 400-foot slides and a small spray zone. The newest water park, built just last year at the upper end of the resort includes a pool, two additional slides known as Hurricane Mountain and a Caribbean-themed spray park known as Pirate Lagoon.

In recent years, Work and his family were able to purchase additional property in order to expand the park and develop the upper end.

Operations Manager Tracy Czambel said that with the purchase of the additional property, they decided to create a new entrance in that area. The former entrance was beginning to be too small and crowded with the growth of the park as well as the continually expanding size of campers, she said. “We just had too short of a driveway and needed to redo the entrance.”

With the new entrance, Work decided to construct a new pool and water park in that area, quickly making it the new center of the campground for activities.

Because of that, a store and restaurant were needed. The old store was located at the former entrance and a little out of the way.

Construction on the new store and restaurant began in August last year and was completed in March.

While the former restaurant had the typical hamburger, hot dog, pizza and other quick-pick foods, Czambel said the new restaurant offers three meals a day, including a breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. on weekends, that is open to the public.

“We wanted to offer a variety of foods on the menu as well as a lot more dinner specials, like barbecue chicken and ribs,” she said. “We’ll always have hoagies and pizza and those other quick hits, but we wanted to be able to offer more.”

Work said they are planning to renovate the former store at the lower end of the resort to offer a larger Laundromat, a small fitness area and a rental facility for business meetings, receptions or showers.

With all of the expansion, the resort has become a five-star campground. Within the Yogi Bear franchise, it has garnered such awards as camp resort of the year, operator of the year, customer service award, recreation award and, consistently, the Pinnacle Award.

“We are now a destination,” Work said. “People come here to enjoy what we have to offer because we offer an experience that most RV parks don’t.

“Our cabins have cable, television, heating and air conditioning and Wi-Fi, and some have fireplaces, refrigerators, stoves and screened-in front porches,” he added. “There isn’t much lacking as far as what our customers want.”

While Work did not name any specific future upgrades or expansions, he did say they are continuously looking at different and unusual ways to expand.