Owners Overcome Hurdles at New York Camping Resort

Gardiner New York Camping Resort

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.

Texas Camping Resorts Continue Move Into Rental Accommodations

North Texas Camping Resort Vacation Rentals

Texas camping used to be synonymous with staying in a tent or RV.  But Texas camping resorts across the Lone Star State are finding they can accommodate bigger groups and introduce more people to camping by making park model rental accommodations available to them, according to Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of parks that offer rental accommodations,” said Schaeffer, whose organization launched a separate website called TexasCabinRentals.net to help people find campgrounds with park model rental accommodations.  Park models are 400-square foot, factory built units that are built on a chassis, like a trailer, but look like cabins or cottages. They come fully furnished with beds and kitchen appliances. Some even have lofts for the kids.

north texas camping resort vacation rentals

“We’re adding a dozen of them to our park this year,” said Steve Stafford, manager of the Jellystone Park Texas Camping Resort in Burleson, outside of Dallas.
Major campground chains like Jellystone Parks have joined independently owned and operated campgrounds across the country in adding park models as rental accommodations for their guests. Government run campgrounds are also investing in park models.

More information on the park model surge in Texas is available from the Texas Association of Campground Owners, the Crowley-based trade association that represents and markets campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the Lone Star State. The association’s 2013 RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas highlights the fact that Texas is a birders paradise and includes detailed information on campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, as well as old Western style maps.

Sturbridge Massachusetts Campground Wins Camping Award

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

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.

Nova Scotia Campground Wins Camping Award

Henk-John and Mary Ann Kuipers, owners of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Nova Scotia campground, have been recognized with the Maple Leaf Award by the Jellystone Park franchise system. The award honors a Canadian franchisee for commitment and dedication to the Jellystone Park franchise and to providing a top-quality camping experience for guests.

For more than 15 years, this award-winning Nova Scotia campground has been the prime family camping destination for the area. Situated near the North Shore of Nova Scotia, the campground is only 10 minutes from the world-famous Bay of Fundy, yet enjoys the balmy summer micro-climate of the beautiful Annapolis Valley. Scenic RV and tent sites, as well as 14 rental units ranging from deluxe cottages with electric fireplaces to rustic cabins, wait to greet guests for a fun-filled stay. Amenities include a huge jumping pillow, heated swimming pools with lifeguards, bumper boats, large playground, beach volleyball, nature trails, a dog park and much more.

“We love taking care of the families who stay with us,” said Nova Scotia campground owner Henk-John Kuipers. “Our entire team is dedicated to making sure their vacation is filled with memories to last a lifetime. This award is a credit to our staff’s hard work and devotion to our guests.”

In addition to the Maple Leaf Award, the park has been the recipient of numerous accolades over the years, including customer-voted awards for Outstanding Customer Service and Outstanding Recreational Programming, and selection as one of Canada’s Top 25 Campgrounds by “Today’s Parent” magazine. The Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV club, rates the campground in the top 10 in Nova Scotia and the number-one campground in the Annapolis Valley.

Daily activities and themed weekends are held throughout the season.  Keep an eye out for Canada Day Circus Carnival (June 28-July 1); Christmas in July (July 26-28); and Country Western Weekend (August 16-18), to name just a few.

The Kingston Jellystone Park Camp-Resort is located at 43 Boo Boo Blvd. in Kingston, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia B0P 1R0.


Jellystone Park Campgrounds Are Going Green

Over the years, the Jellystone Park campgrounds have become more conscious of implementing earth friendly and nature-focused education programs.

Families who visit the Jellystone Park  campground in Williamsport, Md. find that the forested campground is green in more ways than one. The Maryland campground not only has several onsite recycling centers for aluminum cans, paper and cardboard. It also provides boxes for recyclable waste inside each rental cabin.

“We give our recycled materials to Goodwill and to a local non-profit center for people with special needs,” said Carrie Cerrito, the campground’s general manager.

Meanwhile, at the Jellystone Park in Fremont, Indiana, solar heating is used to provide supplemental heating for outdoor swimming pools, while the Jellystone Park in Larkspur, Colo. has integrated a goat ranch into its operations for fire mitigation and guest education purposes.

But the green initiatives underway at Jellystone Park campgrounds aren’t limited to recycling programs and infrastructure improvements. Many Jellystone Parks are also developing nature-focused activity and education programs.

“Across the U.S. and Canada, growing numbers of Jellystone Park Camp Resorts are complementing their green initiatives with activity and education programs that encourage children and adults alike to take better care of the environment,” said Michele Wisher, Director of Marketing for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across North America.

The 79-unit family campground chain was the first campground organization in the U.S. to join Leave No Trace, a Boulder, Colo.-based non-profit organization that develops educational programs to help children and adults take better care of the environment.

Leave No Trace provides Jellystone Park operators with information on how to develop their own nature education programs, which park operators can tailor to suit their guests’ interests. Here is a sampling of some of the nature oriented activities taking place at Jellystone Parks across North America this spring, summer and fall:

Austin, Minnesota: This campground recycles water bottles for use in arts and crafts activities.  They also have a junior ranger program filled with nature-focused activities. On Mother’s Day, children also planted a flower garden for Cindy Bear.

Bloomington, Indiana: This campground offers daily nature hikes. WildCare Inc., an organization dedicated to rehabilitating and taking in injured and orphaned animals from around Monroe County, is also bringing in three of their ambassadors to teach campers about responsible wildlife interactions and what to do if they find an injured animal in their own backyard.

Bradford, Ontario (Toronto Market): This campground offers a weekly nature walk and scavenger hunt followed by a nature craft activity.

Fremont, Indiana: This campground has nature focused scavenger hunts, craft activities involving recycled materials and Leave No Trace activities.

Indian River, Michigan: This campground offers nature crafts; nature hikes; bug hunts; and pond exploration activities. This fall, the park will also offer Northern Michigan Safaris to give campers the ability to spot as many different types of wildlife as possible.

Larkspur, Colorado: This campground has a goat ranch integrated into the operations of the campground with daily opportunities for campers to feed and pet the goats. Other nature oriented activities include brushing a miniature horse; collecting eggs from the chicken coop; and preparing the campground’s gardens. The campground also has an observation bee hive and displays on bee keeping, the history of bees and the importance of bees.

Summer goes by fast – make your reservation for a fun-filled summer vacation at Jellystone Park campgrounds today!


Texas Camping Resort Featured on Good Morning Texas

Looking for Texas camping? Then you’ll want to check out the North Texas Jellystone Park Camping Resort that was recently featured on Good Morning Texas.  WFAA Reporter Shannon Powell Hart interviews campground manager Steve Stafford and shows you the highlights of this upscale camping resort that features tent campsites, RV camping, and plush vacation rentals.

Minnesota Campground Wins Facility of the Year Award

austin minnesota campground waterslides

The Tolner family, owners of the Beaver Trails Jellystone Park in Austin, has been recognized with the Facility of the Year Award by the Jellystone Park franchise system. The award is given to the Camp-Resort that has added new amenities and facilities while also showing sustained improvements on current amenities.

austin minnesota campground waterslides

Waterslides provide hours of fun!

After suffering a fire last year, the Beaver Trails Minnesota campground has come back better than ever, rebuilding and improving the Ranger Station, laundry, restrooms and more. A brand-new teen room and banquet facility are ready to welcome guests, as well as four new family cabins and a toddler pool with a water feature. Yogi Bear’s friend, Cindy Bear, is now a permanent resident at the park, and kids will love the new Yogi Bear tuck-in service at bedtime.All this joins an already impressive array of amenities, including spacious full-service RV, pull-through and tent campsites, and the top video arcade in Southeast Minnesota, where kids of all ages will have a blast checking out the newest, hottest video games for 2013. Add a jumping pillow, a pool with three waterslides, miniature golf, paddleboats, planned activities and more, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable family vacation.

“We’re especially thrilled to have won the ‘Facility of the Year” award after our devastating fire last year,” said owner Don Tolner, who runs the park with his wife Laura and daughter Tammy Westrich. “We’re proud to have an amazing team at our park working hard to make sure every guest’s stay is a wonderful one. This award recognizes their constant efforts.”

Themed weekends at the Austin park kick off April 19. Highlights include Retro Weekend, a trip back in time to the totally tubular 80s on June 7-9, and Wet n’ Wild Weekend August 16-18, complete with water balloon hayrides, a bubble making machine, and squirt gun fights.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly Minnesota campground, check out the Beaver Trails Jellystone Park Camp Resort at 21943 630th Avenue, Austin.

North Carolina Campground Wins Facility of the Year Award

north carolina campground

The Coleman family, owners of the Jellystone Park in Tabor City, North Carolina, has been recognized with the Facility of the Year Award by the Jellystone Park franchise system. The award is given to the Camp-Resort that has added new amenities and facilities while also showing sustained improvements on current amenities. The award was presented at the annual meeting of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort group in Cincinnati, OH.

north carolina campground wins award

Rick Coleman & Joey Coleman pictured front

Tabor City Jellystone Park guests enjoy 350 acres of meticulously manicured grounds, concrete pads, sparkling ponds, and hiking trails.  Tucked away on aquiet farm in Southeastern North Carolina, the campground is just a short drive away from the attractions of Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, NC. Whether you are an angler at heart, enjoy hiking, are a social butterfly who loves planned activities or you just want to relax, you will experience natural beauty like you’ve never seen before at this North Carolina campground. Guests can choose from a range of accommodations, from tent and RV sites to North Carolina cabins and even pet-friendly yurts.

First-rate amenities include free wi-fi, accommodations, and activities for the whole family.  There’s also a pool, lap pool, Yogi Bear’s Splash Zone, and Water Wars for fun in the sun; an arcade, indoor theater and amphitheater; a jungle gym playground; mini golf; gem mining; basketball and volleyball courts; and the Locomotion Ride Truck, which takes guests on a four-wheel open-air trek through muddy terrain.  Nature lovers will enjoy miles of hiking trails and fully-stocked fishing ponds at this North Carolina campground. A camp ministry team leads worship services and Bible studies, and a helpful, attentive staff will make sure the entire family enjoys their getaway.

“We are thrilled to have won the “Facility of the Year” award,” said owner Rick Coleman, who runs the North Carolina campground with his family. “Our family started this operation in honor of our dad in 1999, and over the years we have grown to love providing a fun, family-friendly destination for our amazing guests. The entire Daddy Joe’s team is outstanding and this award honors all of them.”

The Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Daddy Joe’s is located at 626 Richard Wright Road and is open year-round.  If you are camping in North Carolina, visit this award-winning campground!


North Texas Campground Earns Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Ronald Bowyer (behind Yogi) and the staff at North Texas Jellystone Park.

Ronald Bowyer, owner of the North Texas campground near Fort Worth, has been recognized with the Entrepreneur Award by the Jellystone Park franchise system. The Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes Camp Resorts that show a strong growth in business over the prior year. The award was presented at the annual meeting of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort group in Cincinnati.

Located 15 minutes south of downtown Fort Worth and 40 minutes west of Dallas, the campground has 37 custom-built luxury cottages (25 of which have a two-person spa and fireplace) and 248 RV sites with full hookups, 50 amp, and cable connection.

Amenities include two family pools, a kiddie pool, playground, four meeting facilities, and more. Nearby entertainment and attractions include golf, shopping, restaurants, museums, theme parks and professional sports and racing. Families will also love the laser tag field, candy bar bingo, hayrides, visits from Yogi Bear and fire truck rides.

Pirates Cove Wet & Dry Fun Park is located next door to the resort and offers seven waterslides, multi-platform play area, inflatables, arcade games and more. Add themed weekends throughout the summer, and it’s a perfect Texas camping getaway.

Ronald Bowyer (behind Yogi) and the staff at North Texas Jellystone Park.

The North Texas campground’s management team looks to continue the entrepreneurial trend with the addition of new attractions and programs in 2013. The new Lost Maze is a fun challenge for kids and parents to navigate together, and the Crafts & Activity Room will offer opportunities for families to indulge their creative sides with activities like candle making, tie-dyeing, and woodcrafts; the soon-to-open Inflatable Corral is an innovative “bouncy” park sure to wear kids out and ensure a good night’s sleep, while older kids will love the new woodlands walking and biking trail. The park’s Ranch Pool will feature a Tropical Sno Cone stand for summer 2013, and improvements to the onsite activities center include a new stage, movie screen and karaoke sound system.On the value side, guests can now choose from package deals like the Build Your Own Birthday package and Stay & Play wristbands, which allow unlimited enjoyment of all the park’s offerings.“We are always looking for ways to add value and family fun for our guests,” said owner Ron Bowyer. “We are excited that the Jellystone Park system recognized our efforts, and I am so proud of my entire team for always focusing on improving our guests’ experience. We look forward to an amazing 2013.”

The North Texas Jellystone Park campground is located at 2301 S. Burleson Blvd. in Burleson, TX and is open year-round.  If you are camping in Texas, check them out!