When 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.
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.
Jane Harms was a newlywed with toddlers when her father-in-law introduced her to Kozy Rest Kampground in Harrisville, PA.
Thirty years later, four generations of the Harms family still camp at the Kozy Rest Jellystone Park Camp-Resort.
“Kozy Rest is like a second home to me,” said Jane Harms, who lives an hour and 20 minutes away in Pittsburgh. “At least twice a month, all four generations of our family are there together. We’ve celebrated some wonderful times there.”
Jane said Kozy Rest is so closely woven into the fabric of the Harms family that they’ve celebrated every family milestone there, including her father-in-law’s 90th birthday, her in-laws’ 65th wedding anniversary, her grandson’s first communion and her granddaughter’s first birthday.
“I’ve loved that park since the day my father-in-law bought his first trailer,” she said, adding that there’s something magical about spending quality family time camping in the great outdoors.
“I love the beauty of nature and being with family and having a good hot dog over an open fire,” she said.
Jane and her family enjoy the park so much they rent campsites for the entire camping season and leave their trailers at the park. That way they can use them on weekends or whenever they want to be there.
Many families use Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest as their venue of choice for quality family time.
Fifty-one-year-old Tom Slayton lives in eastern Ohio, but meets at the park with his father and brother twice a year to have quality family time together.
“We always camped together when we were kids. But we had never done it as adults,” Tom said, adding that he and his brother and father started camping together again about seven or eight years ago.
“We like staying in their yurts. We just bring our sleeping bags and food and we have a blast together,” he said.
The Slaytons also cook gourmet meals together when they camp. In fact, their latest dinner menu included plans to cook stuffed veal chops with spinach and bread crumbs, mushrooms and ham; smashed potatoes; and glazed carrots.
“We’ll cook it all from scratch at the campground,” Tom said. “We’ll even have a bottle of Cabernet from Napa Valley in California.”
Enjoy these specials at the Jellystone Park in Quarryville, PA.
Add a Third Night of Campsite Rental for only $25. When you stay for a weekend on a campsite between now and June 14th, you can add either a Thursday or a Sunday for just $25.
1/2 price Cabin Rentals. Between now and June 14th, add either a Thursday or a Sunday to your two-night cabin rental for 1/2 of our regular posted rates; or add a fourth night to your three-night Memorial Day weekend reservation for the same deal.
Visit www.jellystonepa.com for more information.
It may be blazing hot outside, but we have Christmas on the brain! Bust out your best holiday decorations and join us for Christmas in July events at Jellystone Park campgrounds. Here’s a sample of events that are sure to have you dreaming of snowflakes and sleigh rides.
The Jellystone Park Yonder Hill in Madison, Maine will celebrate Christmas with Yogi Bear™ and Santa on July 23 and 24. Parents should bring a wrapped gift with your child’s name on it to the office and Santa will be sure to give it to your child. On Saturday morning, sign up for the Christmas dinner.
Head south to Delaware Beaches in Milford, Delaware where you’ll find that Santa has made a reservation at Jellystone Park for July 22-24. Santa will be checking in with all the kids and see how they are behaving! There will be a site decorating contest as well with a chance to win a free weekend of camping!
The Jellystone Park campground in Harrisville, PA , located north of Pittsburgh, will be celebrating Christmas in July on July 22-24. Join them for a best-decorated site contest with a prize for the winner. Have brownies and punch with Santa! And, the kids can work on a Christmas craft.
At our new campground in Gloucester Point VA , they’re getting into the spirit by celebrating a whole week of Christmas in July from July 12-18!
Scott W. of Island Park, NY is our September Campground Memories Contest winner. Congratulations Scott!
Recently we had been camping in Pennsylvania. We had planned on staying there with some friends for 4 days. I still had a week’s vacation so my wife and I decided to travel to another park and spend a few more days with the kids camping. I had heard about the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park campground in Quarryville, PA and decided to give them a call and see if they had any availability. The person who answered the phone was extremely helpful and even though it was a holiday weekend assured me she would do her best to find me a site and she did. That day we traveled to the park and were greeted like we had been camping there forever. We ended up extending our vacation from several days to the entire week because we had such a great time there. The new water park kept us all busy the whole week. It will definitely be a favorite place to return to in the future and we can’t wait for our next trip.
Located in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, just south of Lancaster, the Quarryville Jellystone Park campground features Yogi Bear’s Water Zone, 40,000 square feet of pool area, a jumping pillow and a pedal kart track.