TYLER, Texas, May 3, 2016 — Gibbs Jones has been camping at the Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines for over six years.
He was camping there two years before Don Tardy acquired the property and converted it to a Jellystone Park.
But he keeps going back because each year Tardy and his family offer more and more activities, and they continually reinvest in the park to make it better than it was the year before.
“He’s expanded the pool deck, and put in new pickleball and basketball courts,” Jones said, adding, “It’s a really nice place now.”
Tardy, for his part, said he and his family have invested more than $1 million in improvements to the park in the past three years.
Other improvements include new poolside restrooms, four loft rental cabins, as well as new horseshoe and washer pits. Washers is a game where you toss a washer into a container, aiming for the hole in center so that the washer drops through the hole.
Tardy is also replacing his existing 9-hole miniature golf course and replacing it with an 18-hole miniature golf course. He’s also installing a laser tag course. Both attractions will open Memorial Day weekend.
These investments are making a difference, Jones said, because the family owned campground is drawing more campers. “People are going there in numbers I haven’t seen before,” he said.
But Jones likes the changes. So much, in fact, that he often goes out there with his children, ages 9 and 12.
“I enjoy it because it’s totally different than what I do during the week,” he said, adding that he especially likes the catch and release fishing pond. “You’re forced not to think about work. As soon as we get there, the kids are off and doing their own thing.” Jellystone Parks are unique because they offer organized family activities and themed weekends with Yogi Bear, which help families create unique memories. Activities include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, face painting, a jumping pillow, gem mining as well as evening campfires and tuck-ins with the bears. The themed weekends, which are scheduled from March through October, range from family athletic competitions with various sporting events to Christmas in July with campsite decorating, Christmas cookie making activities, and visits by Santa Claus; to pre-Halloween themed weekends with costume and campsite decorating contests and trick or treating.
Holly Trest of Hallsville has been camping at Jellystone Park with her husband and two kids, ages 5 and 7, for at least three years. “We absolutely love it,” she said. “You couldn’t ask for a more family friendly environment. Our kids adore the activities. And it’s a very safe environment. We’ve been to almost every state park in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas and I don’t think there is anyplace we enjoy more than Jellystone. If we ask our kids, ‘Where do you want to go camping?’ They say, ‘Yogi!’”
Tardy and his wife, Jan, bought the campground with her two adult children, Colt Perrin and Bree Perrin. The Tardys, Colt and Sonya Perrin live and work at the park. For more information, please visit www.JellystoneAtWhisperingPines.com.