Leisure Systems Holding Jellystone Symposium

November 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Although they were rocked by this year’s crazy weather patterns like other RV park and campground operators nationwide, Leisure Systems Inc.’s (LSI) 77 franchisees are posting a pretty good year as they prepare to converge Nov. 13-17 in Covington, Ky., for the 2011 Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Symposium & Trade Show.

“Well, I tell you what, Mother Nature was pretty brutal earlier in the season,” LSI Executive Vice President Dean Crawford told, “You know, tornados hit two of our parks, a lot of tree damage. We had a couple of parks in the Northeast that are on rivers and experienced major flooding problems.

“And, of course, they had the fires down in Texas,” added Crawford, whose company is based in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford, Ohio. “I mean, it’s been brutal, and, unfortunately, you’ve got to deal with it. So, I can’t give you a number as to exactly how much we’re up (in terms of overnight stays for the system at large). But I do know that overall our system has fared well, and it was a good season.”

The bulk of the convention’s meetings and workshops will be held at Embassy Suites Hotel Cincinnati-RiverCenter, while the 65-vendor trade show will be located nearby at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. Social events, a charity auction and a Thursday awards banquet and casino night will all be part of LSI’s traditional late year symposium at which park operators try to relax and reload for the year ahead.

The motivational keynote speaker is Mike Rayburn, a world-class guitarist and standup comedian and an authority on personal development and human potential.

“As far as our turnout with our franchisees,” said Crawford, “we’re looking for a great turnout. I’m guessing that out of 77 franchisees that we have, maybe five can’t make it. So, that’s normal. We always get about 90% of our franchisees coming to the event, which totals roughly 200 people, right around there, mostly managers and owners.”

This year’s symposium will feature some new wrinkles. For the first time, LSI will offer what it’s calling “The Next Generation,” a four-hour seminar for the children of franchisees who are 18 years old or younger. “We will focus on topics like ‘Growing Up in a Campground,’ ‘Working With Your Parents,’ ‘Supervising People Who Are Older Than You’ and ‘Guest Relations,’” said Kelly Jones, LSI’s director of franchisee development.

The seminar instructors have all grown up in the campground business, she noted.

At the closing banquet, LSI will hand out the following awards: Camp Resort of the Year, Operator of the Year, Facility of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, The Carroll Award (for the highest inspection score), the Pinnacle Award (for a 95% or higher inspection score), the Excellence Award (for a 90% or higher inspection score), the Customer Service Award, the Recreation Award, the Jim Webb Spirit Award and the Maple Leaf Award (for Canadian parks).

Here’s a brief review of the agenda for the week:

• Sunday: Yogi Advisory Council meeting, followed by opening reception.

• Monday: System Update by Rob Schutter Jr., educational classes, elections of officers for CARE (Caring About Recreation and Entertainment) and Yogi Advisory Council.

• Tuesday: More educational classes and preview of 2012 Yogi Bear merchandise.

• Wednesday: 4-hour ‘The Next Generation” seminar for franchisees who are 18 years or younger; Trade Show.

• Thursday: Trade Show and closing banquet.





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Jellystone Fire Victims Determined to Rebuild

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

When Tammy Westrich, co-owner of the Jellystone Park near Austin, Minn., saw the remnants of the main lodge after it burned down early Sunday (Oct.9) morning, she knew right away she wanted to rebuild.

“There’s nothing salvageable,” said Westrich, who co-owns the campground with her husband, Ken. “One way or another, we will prevail. We’re going to rebuild.”

As reported by the Alberta Lea Tribune, the Westrichs were in San Diego, Calif., to attend Tammy’s son’s Marine Corps graduation when they got the news. Westrich, who lives in a house at the campground, said she got a call around 4 a.m. that the ranger station was on fire. Her teenage children confirmed the news over the phone as they looked at the flaming building from their house at the campground.

“They said, ‘Mommy, it’s bad,’” Westrich said. “It was everything. It’s all gone… We’re just kind of shocked and scared.”

Westrich is sure she and her husband will rebuild. The fire could have caused much more damage than it did, she said. Westrich said she and her family are very thankful to the firefighters who worked for several hours to contain the fire, which was reportedly caused by an electrical malfunction.

Westrich is also thankful no damage was done to the Yogi Bear statue that stands near the ranger station.

“You feel like you’re being punched in the stomach as hard as you can, but you open your eyes and our big statue of Yogi Bear is just standing there, and he should have burned,” Westrich said. “The paint didn’t peel off of him; he’s just standing there proud.”

The ranger station and everything in it was a total loss. The building housed the campground’s offices, dining room, restaurant, gift shop, arcade room, teen hangout room, laundry room and bathrooms with showers.

Westrich’s son spent two months last summer power washing and lacquering the outside of the building, and the Westrichs put down new tile less than a year ago.

“That was our big project,” Westrich said. “We were so proud of ourselves.”


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