Chip and Kim Smith’s accolades include the Rookie of the Year Award from the company that franchises Jellystone Parks.
But the Smiths have been so successful this year that they won the Rookie Park Operator of the Year Award from Leisure Systems, Inc., the Milford, Ohio-based company that franchises 82 Jellystone Parks across North America. The Smiths also won a Pinnacle Award for achieving scores above 95 percent during assessments of their facilities.
“We were pleasantly surprised to receive these awards,” Chip Smith said.
But the Smiths certainly earned it.
Since they joined the Jellystone Park franchise, business levels at the Smiths’ 270-site park have increased 22 percent this year compared to last year’s figures, a jump in business that prompted them to hire 15 additional mostly part-time employees last summer, and they plan to do even more hiring next year.
“Joining the Jellystone Parks really put us on the map,” Smith said of his park, which is located at 22128 Highway 38 North in Monticello.
He said the campground now attracts families from as much as three hours away, which is twice as far as their typical reach before they joined the franchise.
The Smiths have always offered organized family activities, but they have significantly expanded their activity schedule now that their park is part of the Jellystone Park network.
The Smiths have also added new amenities, including a jumping pillow, shuffleboard courts and a Game Show Mania game. The park, which is located next to the Maquoketa River, also features a heated swimming pool and a fishing lake with pedal boat rentals as well as a river tubing trail, a large sand beach, a playground, and horseshoe pits. It also has two cabins and one camper rental.
For next season, the Smiths plan to add new paddle boats and other water recreation amenities, such as floating trampolines. They are also planning to begin providing food services next year.
“We’re going to be adding pizza. We’re going to have waffles on a stick and potatoes on a stick and a few other things,” Smith said.
Yogi Bear and Cindy Bear will also have some company next season. “We’re going to have Boo Boo!” Smith said.
The Monticello Jellystone Park will open for the 2017 season on April 15. For more information, visit www.monticellojellystone.com.