And Jellystone Parks take it a step further by offering organized activities for children and families that keep everybody so engaged that they set their cellphones aside and spend quality time with one another, without electronic distractions.
“That’s the way we like it,” said Ken and Tammy Westrich, who operate the Beaver Trails Jellystone Park in Austin, Minn. with her parents and owners Don and Laura Tolner.
Westrich and her family have not only created an environment for parents to strengthen their relationship with their children. They’ve also created a unique vacation setting where different families from Minnesota and surrounding states bond with one another.
“We have such a big seasonal family down there that we all get together in February at a hotel because we can’t wait to see each other again before the park reopens,” said Kelly Lucken, a Twin Cities resident who has been camping at the Austin campground with her 13-year-old daughter for the past six years.
She said as many as 50 seasonal campers from the Beaver Trails Jellystone participate in the mid-winter rendezvous.
The Luckens used to make the 90-minute drive from the Twin Cities area to the Beaver Trails Jellystone on weekends. But now she’s a “seasonal camper,” and rents a site for her trailer and leaves it at the campground for the entire season, from April 15th to Oct. 15th.
Westrich said more and more residents from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota are seasonal camping.
“I love it,” Lucken said. “We get there Friday night and we can stay there until Monday and I can still make it to work on time.” Jellystone Parks are famous for providing fun, family activities and themed weekends that include everything from crafts and games to wagon rides. Birthday parties with the bears and daily appearances by Yogi Bear are also very popular. Themed weekend activities are scheduled from April to October, including polar plunge weekends; Mardi Gras themed weekends with parades, cookouts and dances; Wild West weekends; pirate themed weekends; and fall festival weekends.
Lucken said her favorite themed weekends are retro weekends, when everyone dresses up in ‘70s and ‘80s attire and dances to period music.
New attractions at the Beaver Trails Jellystone for this year include an inflatable “Polar Vortex Water Slide,” which has its own blow up rock climbing wall as well as an obstacle course. This new attraction complements the park’s giant slip and slide and 24-foot tall dual racing slides.
The campground also has a mining sluice, playgrounds, a jumping pillow, a pirate bounce house, and a 3,000-square foot pavilion area so that activities can continue during inclement weather.
You don’t even need a tent or RV to camp there. The campground just added three new cabins with kitchens and bathrooms, each of which can sleep six. These complement a dozen existing cabins. “We also added another building that features 11 showers with all brand new beautiful stamped concrete floors,” Westrich said.
For more information, please visit www.beavertrailsjellystone.com.