Yogi Bear Parks Grow With More Rental Options

February 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, continues to diversify its choice of accommodations while also expanding the organized family activities for campers.

According to a press release, parks are increasingly renting furnished cabins, cottages, yurts and teepees in addition to providing traditional tent camping and RV sites. LSI reported that rentals now account for 2,000 sites across the Jellystone Park network.

“Rentals are key because they enable us to make our parks accessible to families who haven’t camped before or who don’t have their own camping equipment,” Wisher said, adding that cabins and other rental units provided 26% of Jellystone Park revenue in 2013, even though they only accounted for 12% of LSI’s 17,000 sites system wide.

“Rental units contribute a large portion of income to our network. Occupancy levels in rental accommodations are also higher than the typical RV site,” Wisher said.

Wisher noted that several Jellystone Parks also have significant numbers of park model cabins with fully furnished kitchens and bathrooms, providing another option for campers.



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Jellystone Parks Host Christmas in July Event

July 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Families that visit Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts this month will have a chance to celebrate the holidays early with “Christmas in July” activities, according to a press release.

“It’s one of our most popular themed events,” said Michele Wisher, director of marketing for Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country.

Christmas in July weekends typically include campsite and cabin decorating contests, gift exchanges and visits by Santa Claus. Some parks even have caroling, snowball fights and white elephant gift exchanges, while children’s craft activities range from making Christmas ornaments to painting ceramics for their parents.

Christmas in July events have become so popular at the Jellystone Park in Pittsfield, Ill., that the park has two Christmas themed weekends this month during July 20 – 21 and July 27 – 20.

Meanwhile, the Jellystone Park in Williamsport, Md. has a full week of Christmas- and holiday-themed activities from July 22 – 28. The park will be decked out in holiday lights and carolers from a local high school will sing to campers in the evening. The park is also planning a New Year’s Eve celebration with a DJ dance and a countdown to midnight. The park even has a jumbo screen that shows the ball dropping in New York from the previous New Year’s Eve.

Other Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Parks with a full week of Christmas themed activities include locations in Cherokee, N.C.; East Wareham, Mass.; Lawrence, Kan.; North Java, N.Y.; and Warrens, Wis.

Christmas in July themed weeks and weekends are scheduled at most Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts across the U.S. and Canada.

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Lazy River Campground: A Remarkable Restart

June 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Campground owners John and Heidi Lawrence and Glenn Bracklow

Editor’s Note: The following article appears in the latest issue of Woodall’s Campground Management detailing the genesis and subsequent growth of Lazy River Campground in New York State. 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. To read the entire story click here

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. 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. Sites are spacious. The campground is gated which gives an added sense of security.

“We want to make people feel comfortable where they can let their kids run loose” within reason, John said.

Success has not come without a stiff price. Along the way, these soft-spoken owners have battled brutal hurricanes, several floods and repressive governmental and lending regulations that hamper the future of their investment.

To read the entire article click here.

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Sun Communities Purchasing N.Y. Jellystone

April 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Sun Communities Inc.’s RV Resorts division has purchased the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park of Western New York located near North Java.

The deal, effective April 18, brings the 100-acre family camping resort in Wyoming County into the corporate network of Sun Communities, which oversees management at 185 communities in 25 states. Jellystone is its first property in New York, Buffalo Business First reported.

Jellystone is part of Sun’s recent expansion into the RV park business. The company announced last month it invested over $250 million over the past 18 months in the acquisition and quality enhancements of RV communities.The purchase price was not immediately disclosed.

Jellystone was owned and managed privately since 2004 by Scott and Sue Crompton. An announcement to customers via email and Facebook issued Saturday (April 20) promised a smooth transition, as well as plans for improvements scheduled to take place during 2013.

Jackie Maguire was named new resort manager. Through its Facebook page, the camp promised the same park, same staff and same “great family camping location” but under new ownership. Plans call for keeping existing pricing in place, with all activities remaining all-inclusive.

The campground, which accommodates tents, RVs and cabin campers, includes a multi-level water playground, a lake for swimming and fishing as well as activities like mini-golf, go-carts and hiking.

Among the improvements completed already for the upcoming season, the park has upgraded its Lakefront Cabins and Boo Boo Chalets and will be adding a new structure to its wooden playground prior to opening weekend in May. Additional changes will include renovations to the pool and mini golf course; installation of a full court basketball court; and a larger golf cart fleet.

Based in Southfield, Mich., Sun Communities is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns and operates manufactured housing and recreational vehicle communities.


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Russell Was an Inspiration for Jellystone, ARVC

January 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Keith Russell, a rising star in the Jellystone Park network and a strong proponent of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), died unexpectedly over the holidays while visiting with his newest grandchild.

According to a press release, Russell, 65, co-owned and operated the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Horn Lake, Miss., with his wife, Penny. He died Jan. 2.

“I counted Keith as one of my closest friends in the franchise system,” said Rob Schutter, who holds dual roles as ARVC chairman and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country. “I will greatly miss him, his sense of humor and his counsel.”

Russell built his park from scratch in 2007 and joined the Jellystone Park system in 2008. The Russells were named “Rookies of the Year” in 2009 and won Leisure Systems’ Pinnacle awards each of the following years. Their park also won Leisure Systems’ “Facility of the Year” award in 2010 as well as a “Landscaping Award” for park beautification in 2011.

Russell was well respected in the LSI system and was elected to LSI’s Franchise Advisory Board in 2010, just two years after joining the network.

“He was inspiring to the other franchisees,” Schutter said. “People loved to be around him. He was one of those unique individuals who captures your attention.”

Russell is survived by his wife, Penny, his son, Jimmy; his daughters, Holly, Jessica and Amy; and eight grandchildren.




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Jellystone Park Network Adding Two Facilities

December 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Campers enjoy the waterpark at Clear Water Park Camping Resort in Uniontown, Ohio.

Leisure Systems Inc., franchisor of Yogi Bear Jellystone Parks, has added two facilities to its nationwide system, according to a press release. Whispering Pines RV & Cabin Resort became the fifth Texas campground to join the network along with Uniontown, Ohio-based Clear Water Park Camping Resort.

Whispering Pines, a 30-year-old park in Tyler, offers 133 RV sites and 18 park model cabins. Owners Don and Jan Tardy, who acquired the park in May, said they wanted to join Jellystone Park chain to expand their marketing reach.

“I like the concept of Jellystone Park and I want to emphasize the fact that we are a park that caters to families,” Don Tardy said, adding that Whispering Pines will officially join the Jellystone Park chain on Jan. 1.

Originally built in 1947, Clear Water Park had been neglected for many years and needed major updating to make it competitive in today’s market.

Mert and Charlene Yoder, who bought the park 10 years ago, spent close to $700,000 in improvements and new amenities, including new pull-through campsites, cabins, a waterslide, a miniature golf course and a gem mining sluice – quadrupling the park’s business base.

“When we reopen May 1, we will reopen as a Jellystone Park Camp-Resort,” Mert Yoder said.


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Schutter Delivers Upbeat Report at LSI Confab

November 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

LSI President Rob Schutter addresses franchisees

Rob Schutter Jr., president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), promised an upbeat message for LSI’s franchisees at their annual Symposium held Nov. 5-8 in Covington, Ky., and he delivered.

Woodall’s Campground Management reported that during his annual LSI Updates presentation on Nov. 6, Schutter reported to a record gathering of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort operators that LSI’s 78 franchisees outperformed the RV park and campground industry in general as well as many American businesses in 2012.

“There wasn’t one down area in occupancy or revenue numbers in our franchise system from last year; every possible scenario we studied was up. Not many people out there in our industry can say that,” he said.

For example:

• System revenue totaled $71.4 million, up 12% from 2011 and up 8% for same parks from 2011.

• Camper nights (general sites) rose 9%.

• Rental unit revenue rose 17%.

• Extended stays were up 2%.

• Online reservations rose 13%.

• Deposits increased 15%.

• Store sales were up 9%.

• Ancillary products sales up 12%.

“This is great,” Schutter said, stating that the fine performance was due in large part to franchisees’ perseverance and dedication to improving customer satisfaction.

The revenue performance was well above industry average of flat to up to 4%, he noted, and the rental unit uptick exceeded the industry figure of 15%.

Rental units are a growing phenomenon for not only LSI franchisees but the entire industry as well, Schutter continued. Rental units with full service typically attract “non-campers” who want niceties they can’t find in a tent or a travel trailer and yet want a unique camping experience. Double-digit growth has been recorded the last three years. “Some people (parks) are not really taking advantage of this. This is an area that we can exploit for many years. We have not maxed out.”

To read the entire story click here.

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ARVC’s Rob Schutter: Full Speed Ahead for ’13

November 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Rob Schutter

The way Rob Schutter Jr. sees it, the transition period for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) from the prior administration of Linda Profaizer to CEO Paul Bambei’s tenure two years ago is officially over, and it’s now full speed ahead on a number of initiatives that are already building value for the Centennial, Colo.-based national trade association’s 3,000 members.

Schutter, president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), the Cincinnati, Ohio-based franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, made this and other points during a recent interview with Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) Editor Steve Bibler as he wrapped up his first year as ARVC chairman on the eve of the association’s annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, Nov. 26-30 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Schutter will speak to members as part of the chairman’s annual address at a Nov. 29 breakfast meeting and during the “Awards of Excellence Gala” on Nov. 30. Schutter’s message will likely focus on the association’s efforts to concentrate on its core mission and solidify its member base to bridge the gap with non-members and unaffiliated states after experiencing some “growing pains and a learning process” over the past couple years.

“After a period of upheaval, I’m sure some members were curious if bringing in a person from outside (the industry) to run ARVC was right,” he said. “There was the transition from the Washington, D.C., area to two different locales in the Denver area. A lot of things were unsettled. You are now seeing some permanency in place. Members are very pleased things have settled down and the focus is once again on offering value to members.

To read the entire article click here.

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Jellystone Owner Touts ‘Wow’ Factor in Cabins

July 9, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Two-bedroom Jellystone cabin

Tracking over 230 lost site-nights for cabin rentals prompted Denny Quigley to step up and add two more cabins to his inventory at the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Kozy Rest near Harrisville, Pa.

“Last year, after hearing the reservation staff telling people we are sorry we don’t have a cabin available, I decided to have them start keeping track of the lost sales,” said Quigley, owner of the 164-site park, in a press release. “I was shocked to see the total lost sales from early July through October to be over 230 site-nights.”

The demand for cabin rentals is at an all-time high throughout the outdoor hospitality industry. Quigley stated that his cabin income is up 20% already this year.

That’s when Quigley started to look at cabin manufactures at the Leisure Systems Symposium, ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Convention and the PCOA convention. “We have a 5W park and I was looking for rentals to meet our standards,” Quigley said. “That’s when we went back to Fork Creek Cabins of Paradise, Pa. We had purchased two cabins from them in 2010 and they have been great.”

Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest was recognized as ARVC’s Medium Park of the Year last December, and Quigley says offering quality amenities is very important. “We really try to go after the ‘WOW’ factor in everything we do,” said Quigley. “It means a lot when we escort our customers to the cabins and hear them say ‘WOW’ when they walk through the door. The next thing we hear them say is that they need to show this to their friends or relatives.”

Fork Creek Cabins was Quigley’s choice because “They pay close attention to the details like the cabinetry and trim work. They use quality materials throughout the cabins. Jonathan Allgyer from Fork Creek cabins has been very flexible to work with on the floorplans and details. We wanted Moen faucets and Jonathan worked with his supplier to see that they were installed. From Dan Allgyer, the owner, to Amos the delivery and setup person, they really have our best interest in mind.”

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Seasonal Campers Growing at Jellystone Parks

June 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Rising fuel costs have little impact on Thad and Rita Frost, who work as elementary school teachers.

According to a press release, they rent a seasonal campsite at the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Lincoln, Del., which is only 15 minutes away from their home in Milford. They leave their RV there for the whole summer and camp with their two children, 11- and 14-year-old boys, whenever they want, which is usually most weekends.

“Even though it’s close to home, we feel like we’re on vacation,” Thad Frost said. “I don’t have to drive two hours to feel that way.”

“Across the country, growing numbers of families are renting campsites at Jellystone Parks for the entire camping season, including many who live less than a half-hour away,” said Michele Wisher, a spokesperson for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country.

Frost said there are numerous benefits to camping close to home.

For starters, he said, his family can still have a weekend away from home, even if the boys have soccer or football practice. The Frosts can also bring their pets along whenever they want to.

“One of the reasons we picked this park is we have five pets — three dogs and two cats. Being this close, we’ll bring the pets out for a day or two and then take them home.”

Frost said Jellystone Park offers a fun, safe and secure place for families, and lots of organized activities for children, so they feel comfortable letting their kids have the run of the campground without having to supervise them every second.

“When my 11-year-old and I show up at the campground, he takes off as soon as we get there and I don’t see him again until 8:30 or 9 p.m. He meets other kids. He plays with them. He gets involved in activities. He’s always shooting basketball or riding bikes.”

In fact, when they’re at Jellystone Park, both of the Frosts’ children wind up doing more physical activity than they do at home. But since they are away from home, Frost and his wife can actually relax without getting involved in household chores.

During the school year, the Frosts even go to Jellystone Park during the week to grade papers or do other school work in the peaceful campground setting.

Frost said renting a seasonal campsite at a campground close to home is the best way to make use of an RV.

“We’re getting a lot of use out of our RV now,” he said, and it doesn’t matter as much what happens with fuel prices.

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