“It makes a difference,” said John Thornton, a life-long camping enthusiast from Venetia, Penn. “When a family owns a campground, they are invested in it personally and you see the difference in everything they do.”
This is especially true of the Quigley family, who own and operate the Jellystone Park campground in Harrisville.
When they bought the former Kozy Rest Campground 15 years ago, Thornton said, it needed a lot of work. But he kept coming back because the Quigley family treated him and his wife and children like they were part of their family.
Meanwhile, the Quigleys continued to improve their campground, which already had a swimming and mini golf course. They eventually joining the Jellystone Park network in 2011. But the improvements never stopped, with recent additions including a new trackless train, a new camp store and a major 50 amp electrical upgrade. Other park amenities include playground equipment, a mining sluice, a dog park, a jumping pad and a jumping pillow. And even as the park became busier and busier, the Quigleys never lost that family touch that brings people back year after year. In fact, the Quigleys have been so successful that they have again won the 2015 Park of the Year Award from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which represents more than 3,000 campgrounds across the U.S.
The prestigious national award, which the Quigleys also won in 2014 and in 2011, recognizes their park’s exceptionally high levels of customer service; employee training, operational excellence; national directory ratings; and community service. The Quigleys were also recognized at the Jellystone Park Symposium in Cincinnati with six awards, the highest being the Jim Webb Spirit Award, which is given to the franchisee who plays a major role in the success of the Jellystone Park franchise system.
Thornton is not surprised. Neither are other campers who enjoy spending vacation time at Jellystone Park, which has 170 sites as well as 10 cabins and two yurts.
“The Quigleys are very customer oriented,” said Howard Neff, a longtime camper from Butler, Penn. “Whatever your needs are, they will take care of it if it is humanly possible.”
Neff also likes the fact that the Quigley family lives at the campground. “Absenteeism usually doesn’t work,” he said. “What I like is they’re there all the time.”
Of course, beyond the Quigley family’s attention to detail is the magic of a Jellystone Park itself.
Only Jellystone Parks have Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, and children love to interact with them as well as the many craft activities, games, and organized recreational activities that Jellystone Parks schedule during their season, which at Harrisville runs from April 15 to Oct. 31.
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, such as Hawaiian weekends, often include limbo contests, sand castle building, and a luau. Mardi Gras themed weekends include parades, cookouts and dances, while Christmas in July weekends include campsite decorating contests, campsite caroling, cookie and ornament making activities. The increasingly popular Halloween themed weekends include costume and campsite decorating contests and trick or treating activities.
“All the activities they have for kids are great,” said Jeff Brenneman of Callensburg, Penn., who camps at Jellystone with his six-year-old son, Mason. “We can’t camp anywhere else because we like it so much. Mason loves it. He’s like a king out there. He never wants to leave. We have also met a lot of really nice people out there and made a lot of good friends.”
And even though both Thornton and Neff’s children have outgrown the allure of activities with Yogi Bear, they still enjoy the family atmosphere at the campground and the friends they’ve made there, which keeps them coming back year after year.
Thornton said it’s worthwhile for families to bring children to Jellystone because the wholesome activities and camping itself provide opportunities for interaction and communication that are hard to achieve in other environments.
The Neffs raised their children camping at Jellystone Park, and now they both keep trailers there at the park so they rendezvous on weekends during the spring, summer and fall.
For more information on the Jellystone Park in Harrisville, visit www.pittsburghjellystone.com.