David and Deidre Carroll and their two children (front left) are all smiles as they receive a $10,000 check as winners of a video contest sponsored by Leisure Systems Inc. Michele Wisher (right) of LSI made the presentaiton. In the back are Kim and Larry Jones, owners of the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake, Texas, where the Carroll's video was filmed.
David and Deidre Carroll from Keller, Texas, are the $10,000 grand prize winners of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park 40th Anniversary Video Contest.
The Carrolls and their daughters Ashton (age 7) and Jordan (age 5), received their $10,000 prize and a gift basket full of Yogi Bear souvenirs on a return visit tothe Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake, Texas – the site where the winning video was filmed during the family’s stay over the Fourth of July holiday, according to a news release.
“We’re very happy for the Carroll family. They reflect our mission to foster a fun family experience that creates lasting memories,” said Michele Wisher, director of marketing for Leisure Systems Inc., the franchisor of Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. “It was great to see so many entertaining and enthusiastic videos that show how our campers enjoy our parks.”
The contest, which ran May 23 to Sept. 8, required the videos to be taken at any of the 71 Jellystone Park Camp-Resort locations and be 30 to 90 seconds in length (maximum length is 3 minutes.) Participants submitted 77 videos from 16 states and two provinces in Canada.
The general public was asked to vote for their favorite videos which accounted for 50% of the overall score. A panel of judges from LSI also judged each video and contributed to the other 50% of the contestant’s score. More than 21,000 votes were cast online with the Carrolls’ video garnering the highest overall score from the public and Leisure Systems. All of the videos can be seen at www.jellystonefun.com.
Because of fond memories David has from visits to Jellystone parks as a child, the Carroll family frequently visits Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts to spend quality time as a family. The Carrolls heard about the contest online and decided to film the video, which stars young Jordan Carroll asleep with her stuffed Yogi bear. In a dream sequence Yogi magically comes to life and Jordan relives all of the fun from her visit.
“We are thrilled to win the $10,000 grand prize,” said Deidre Carroll. “The girls are very excited because they are allowed to decide how to spend a small portion.”
When the economy gets tough, vacationing Americans apparently tighten the belts and head for the great outdoors.
That’s one take on new figures showing that campgrounds and RV park revenues this year largely kept pace with 2008, according to the Wisconin State Journal and Capital Times.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) reports that many of the largest campgrounds had increased visitors.
For example, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with 430 locations in the U.S. and Canada, had 1.1% more visitors in 2008 while revenues were up 5.6%.
And Leisure Systems Inc. — which franchises roughly 70 Jellystone Park resorts, including one in Wisconsin Dells — is reporting an overall 5% jump in revenues, although occupancies fell slightly.
“Private parks have performed well in this economy,” said Linda Profaizer, president ARVC, which represents commercially owned parks nationwide.
Brent Gasser, spokesman for Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort and Water Playground in Wisconsin Dells, is reporting close to a 10% increase in visitors this year.
But overall, Jellystone park revenues were down 7% as many park guests downsized to the least costly campsites.
“I’ve been doing this 40 years, and this is the first time I can remember visits were up but revenues were down,’ said Gasser.
Gasser said visitors this summer eschewed more expensive lodging, with tent camping more popular than ever. He noted that almost 50% of those renting campsites were going without electric hookups.
Longtime Dells area promoter Tom Diehl is reporting similar results for 2009, with the number of visitors up from last year but overall sales down.
“I think a lot of people were shopping around,” said Diehl, owner of the Tommy Bartlett Show, who briefed state tourism officials this week.
Diehl said restaurant owners in particular were noticing tourists spending less. He said restaurants were busy but diners were choosing less expensive menu items.
On the other hand, retail shoppers were not buying much at all, Diehl said.
“Those are the kind of decisions you can postpone,” he said.
The Dells area was already hurting from the accidental draining of Lake Delton last summer, which basically wiped out the Tommy Bartlett Show for all of 2008 and led to cancellations at the small resorts along the lakeshore. The manmade lake was eventually repaired and refilled with water for this season.
Diehl said revenues for his water ski show this summer were down about 10% from the $3 million in 2007 but much improved over last year.
Last year, Diehl said his business grossed only $300,000.
“The Dells has a lot to be thankful for, but honestly, we’ve been on a 10-year suffer here,” he said.
Campground and RV park occupancies and revenues have largely kept pace with 2008 figures, despite the recession, according to an informal survey of parks by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with more than 450 locations across the U.S. and Canada, was 1.1% ahead of 2008 occupancy figures systemwide through the end of September, while revenues were up 5.6%, according to Mike Gast, a company spokesman.
Meanwhile, Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises 73 Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, which are mostly located east of the Mississippi River, has experienced a 5% jump in revenues, although its systemwide occupancies have fallen slightly, largely because of wet weather in the Northeast, said Dean Crawford, LSI’s executive vice president.
“The campground and RV park business continues to be the most vibrant segment of the travel and tourism industry,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of ARVC, which represents commercially owned parks nationwide.
“Private parks have performed well in this economy,” Profaizer said, “because they are the most affordable vacation option, they increasingly offer fun family activities, and they are located in the most sought after destinations in the country.” Many private campgrounds and RV parks also offer unique accommodations, such as park model or site-built cabins, yurts, safari tents and teepees for people who don’t have their own RV or tent, but still want to enjoy a recreational experience in the Great Outdoors, she said.
Here’s a sampling of year-to-date business levels and occupancies reported by independently owned campgrounds and RV parks across the country:
- Branson KOA in Branson, Mo.: Occupancies at this park are up 9% so far this year, although the park has seen a slight dip in lodging bookings. However, the park saw its average length of stay increase this year, from 4.5 nights to 5 nights, with more walk-ins than ever, said park owner Ralph Newell. “We had the best July and August we’ve ever had, due to our new jumping pillow and kids’ activities. Fall is looking better than last year.”
- Buttonwood Campground in Mexico, Pa: This central Pennsylvania park reported a 3.2% increase in overnight campers through early September, compared to last year, with big gains in canoe and kayak rentals and cabin rentals. “We have about 170 open sites and cabins and have enjoyed an average weekend occupancy rate of 80% plus for the summer,” said park owner Dennis McFarland.
- Country Acres Campground in Ravenna, Ohio: This park, located roughly 50 miles southeast of Cleveland, has seen a 9.6% increase in its overall camping business this year. “That is mostly due to an increase in seasonal campers, up 14%, and tenters, up 6%, while RV sites are pretty even to last year,” said park owner Anthony Palmentera, adding that he has seen an increase in the number of young couples in their 20s who are starting to camp with older pop-up trailers or large tents. Palmentera, however, has also seen a 7% decline in bookings for his 10 cabins and park models.
- Cross Creek RV Park in Lake Ozark, Mo. This park, which is open April 1 to Nov. 1, experienced an 83% increase in tent camping, a 73% increase in cabin rentals and a 56% increase in RV site usage during the past six months, compared to the same period last year, according to park hosts John and Wendy Peters.
- Falcon Meadow RV Campground in Falcon, Colo. : This park, located 15 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, experienced a 4% gain in :occupancies during the summer months compared to the same period last year, said park owner Jim Ozburn.
- Lawrence / Kansas City KOA in Lawrence, Kansas: This park, located 40 miles west of Kansas City, Kan., has seen an 11% increase in occupancy compared to last year. “During the holiday weekends, we had to turn people away because we had a completely full park,” said Harold Hays, KOA park manager.
- Normandy Farms in Foxboro, Mass.: This park, which is situated about 22 miles southwest of Boston, experienced a 6.5% drop in occupancy in June compared to the same period last year, largely due to rainy weather in the Northeast. However, park occupancies were up 4.6% and 1.3% in July and August, respectively, while weekend bookings remain strong through October, said park spokeswoman Kristine Daniels.
- Parkview Riverside RV Park in Concan, Texas: This Hill Country park has seen a 2-3% decline in year to date occupancies, largely because of the drought, which has caused the Rio Frio River to fall to levels that were too slow and too shallow for river tubing, said park owner Doug Shearer.
- Premier RV Resort in Redding, Calif.: This park has seen a 4% increase in gross revenues during the first eight months of this year compared to last year. “We are seeing a nice increase in first-time visitors who are staying from two to four days while they are vacationing in the area,” said park owner Paul Williams, adding that the increase in demand from RVers has prompted the park to add 21 new pull through sites, which will be available in early October.
- Sandy Pines in Hopkins, Mich.: This 2,220-site park, one of the largest RV resorts in country, saw a 7% increase in camping reservations this year compared to last year, with an 8% increase in rental cabins. “The economic conditions are not very good in Michigan, but camping is still an inexpensive activity for a family and they are doing what they can there with limited money,” said Max Gibbs, the park’s managing director. Sandy Pines is about 30 miles south of Grand Rapids.
- The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, Calif.: 2009 occupancies are running slightly ahead of last year’s figures at this low desert park, which is located just outside of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, said Daniel Wright, the park’s general manager.
- Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort and Water Playground in the Wisconsin Dells: This park reported close to a 10% gain in occupancies this year. However, overall park revenues declined nearly 7% as many of its park guests downsized to more affordable accommodations and campsites. “As we have eight types of outdoor lodging starting at $49 and six types of ‘bear-rific’ campsites starting at $19 for a family of four, there were plenty of alternatives to choose from,” said park spokesman Brent Gasser.
LSI's Rob Schutter
Leisure Systems Inc.’s Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts mark their 40th anniversary this year — nearly 50 years after it namesake cartoon character debuted in a syndicated TV show. And a good argument could be made that LSI’s 75 campgrounds — and the souvenirs they sell carrying Yogi’s moniker — have gone a long way toward keeping the Yogi Bear name in the public’s eye.
“I don’t think we could have done it without Yogi,” said Robert E. “Rob” Schutter, president of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts in 27 states and Canada.
“From a generational standpoint, as we go into our fifth decade, we get comments from people remembering that they came to a Yogi Bear campground when they were a child and they want to share that with their children and grandchildren.
LSI, based in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford, Ohio, is marking its anniversary in part by conducting its annual franchisee “Symposium” in conjunction with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) InSites 2009 Convention and Outdoor Hospitality Expo Nov. 9-12 at the Rosen Centre Hotel and Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
The symposium, usually held in Cincinnati, continues for participating franchisees with a cruise of the Western Caribbean aboard a ship sailing from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. “The idea was that we wanted to do something a little bit different for our franchisees,” Schutter said. “We will hold a couple of meetings on the ship and have an awards session and reception.”
More than 65 of LSI’s franchisees are expected to attend. ”A couple of them have been with us the entire 40 years,” Schutter said.
The average size of an independently owned Yogi Bear camp-resort is 230 sites with campground stores ranging in size up to 1,500 square feet and amenities including finished indoor or outdoor pavilions, swimming pools, play areas for children and activity areas for adults.
“Our major growth has been in water amenities,” Schutter noted. “Some campgrounds have installed waterslides, splash pads or spray grounds and indoor pools and seen increases of 25% in reservations. In this day and age, the consumer is looking for our value. In our system, it’s up to us to begin looking at attractions that can be easily added to the operational mix of the park.”
Campers also will find characters — Yogi, Boo Boo Bear, Cindy Bear and Ranger Smith — in costume participating in evening hayrides, storytelling time and other events.
Looking ahead, LSI will ramp up training over the next five years by strategically acquiring four to five parks in different regions of the country to use as training centers, according to Schutter.
All parks, in turn, participate in LSI’s telephone reservations system, and 55 parks take reservations on LSI’s online system.
With the nation in the midst of a recession, reservations have held steady this season compared to 2008, although revenue throughout the system will be up 4% to 5% based on fee increases. “Occupancy has been relatively flat compared to last year, which I take as a positive, given what’s been going on with the economy,” Schutter said. “Typically, families are watching what they spending, but they are spending what they have allocated.”
Camping cabins at Yogi Park in North Java, N.Y.
Gaining popularity at LSI’s parks these days are cabins, as has been the case across the RV park and campgrounds sector. Schutter says the top end of the cabin rental market — LSI has more than 1,700 cabins in the Yogi Bear system — has softened somewhat, but the drop off has been made up by less expensive rentals. “And there has been a large increase in tent camping,” he added. “That market had been 10% to 15% of our occupancy. It looks like it will be about 18% this year, which is interesting. But whether the trend continues will depend on the economy from here on out.”
With 75 campgrounds consisting of approximately 16,000 campsites in the fold, Schutter said that the maximum number of campgrounds in the system likely won’t ever exceed 100. That’s just not what LSI is all about. “That’s because of the type of amenity package that we are looking for and because we are family-style campgrounds,” Schutter explained. “That part of the market is a lot smaller than the empty-nester segment. For campgrounds themselves, we’ve just whetted our appetite for exposing our industry to people who have not been campers. For the longest time, people thought you needed an RV to go camping. With the emergence of rental units at every level, that is changing.”
The Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park franchise is celebrating its 40th anniversary by hosting a video contest for campers to capture how they have fun at Jellystone Park. The grand prize is $10,000.
“Our mission is to foster a fun family experience that creates lasting memories,” said Michele Wisher, director of marketing for Leisure Systems Inc., the franchisor of Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. “We’re excited to see how our campers enjoy our parks and to share that enthusiasm with others.”
The videos must be taken at any of the 71 Jellystone Park Camp-Resort locations and be 30 to 90 seconds in length (maximum length is 3 minutes.) Videos can also be comprised of various still photos in a slideshow.
Each person submitting a video to www.jellystonefun.com is eligible to win special Jellystone Park gift baskets full of Yogi Bear souvenirs during weekly prize drawings. Some baskets may include a free night of camping at a Jellystone Park.
For the grand prize, contest participants are encouraged to forward their videos to friends to generate votes. The five videos receiving the most votes will be entered to win the $10,000 grand prize. Finalists will receive a Jellystone Park gift basket full of Yogi Bear souvenirs and a free weekend stay at a Jellystone Park. The grand prize winner will be selected by Leisure Systems Inc. and announced in October.
The contest started May 23 and runs to Sept. 8.
For more information on contest rules and regulations, visit www.jellystonefun.com <http://www.jellystonefun.com/> .
« Previous Page