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!
Check out this article excerpt from The News Journal in Delaware. We know gas prices can make an impact on vacation choices, but at Jellystone Parks we strive to provide a number of free amenities with your stay – from playgrounds to swimming pools.
RV Owners willing to pay in order to get away
By Dan Shortridge
Nationally, more than half of RV owners surveyed this spring by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association said they’ll be going camping more often than last year, with many taking more frequent, shorter vacations. Just 9 percent said they’ll go camping less this summer.
And the trade group expects overall RV sales to rise to 263,100 this year, up 8.6 percent. That’s still a far cry from the 390,500 units sold before the crash in 2006 but is a nice rebound from the 165,700 units sold in 2009.
“When gas prices rise, they don’t stop RVing,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We will face some headwinds such as gas prices and uncertain economic factors, but overall, we have momentum now that will help us continue the recovery that began last year.”
This comes as good news to local RV dealers and to the operators of RV campgrounds.
A strong summer
Delaware’s campgrounds — public and private — reported being at or nearly at capacity for the Memorial Day weekend with visitors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland and are looking forward to a strong summer.
The RV trade group’s survey found 53 percent of RV owners planning to drive more this summer, with 65 percent planning “mini-vacations.”
To trim travel costs, they plan to vacation more efficiently — driving slower, packing lighter to reduce weight and turning off home utilities while they’re traveling.
Even with gas nearing the $4 mark in Delaware, they contend it’s still cheaper to RV.
According to a 2008 study for the RV trade group, a 238-mile trip from Pittsburgh to Lancaster, Pa., would cost about $840 for the owner of a medium-sized RV, including a monthly stipend covering the purchase price; the comparable trip in a car, staying at hotels, would cost about $1,050. The $1 jump in gas prices from a year ago would add $17 to the cost of fuel for the owner of that RV owner and $6 for the car owner. Gas mileage varies on the size of the RV from 6 mph to 12 mph.
But talk to RV campers and they’ll tell you the decision is less about money than lifestyle — the freedom and flexibility they have to go where they want, when they want and how they want.
People ‘still want to get away’
Brent Fannin, whose family owns the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park campground in Milford, DE said its bookings are up more than 30 percent this year, with more than 200 of its 277 sites full for the Memorial Day weekend.
Fannin said it’s far enough inland to be away from the hustle and bustle of the resorts but also close enough to Rehoboth and other beach towns that visitors can go to the outlets or boardwalk. Many bigger RVs tow a small car so campers can travel while leaving the camper on site.