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More Families Taking Frequent Mini-Vacations Close to Home

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Ladea Dante and her family have a motorhome and they camp frequently throughout the summer.

But they don’t go very far.

In fact, their favorite campground, the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Larkspur, Colo., is only five minutes away from their home.

“You don’t have to go a long way to have fun camping with your kids,” Dante said. “It’s not about who drives the farthest. It’s just about taking that time and just being with your kids.”

So what do Ladea Dante, her husband and their three kids, ages 13, 9 and 4, do at the Larkspur Jellystone?

“We go on hikes and we play games,” she said. “It’s like summer camp. There’s organized activities and there’s also free time.”

Jellystone Parks, in fact, are famous for organized family activities and themed weekends as well as their pancake breakfasts and visits from Yogi Bear.

Larkspur’s summer events include face painting, arts and crafts, archery and night movies as well as themed weekends, including Pirates of the Campground weekend July 29th to 31st with Pioneer and Native American themed weekends and related activities slated for the first two weekends in August.

The park’s activities are so much fun that the Ladea and her kids often spend days at a time at the park, while her husband goes off to work. But when he has time off, he spends it at Jellystone Park with Ladea and their children.

“We just have a blast,” Ladea Dante said. “His day off is now so much fun compared to being at home.”

Other families across the country have made similar discoveries, including Michele and Keith Ervin of Oak Creek, Wis., who live just two miles away from the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Caledonia, which they often visit with their two boys, ages 3 and 7.

“We’re in a different state of mind when we’re at Jellystone,” said Keith Ervin, 36. “We’re not at home, so we’re not going the daily grind of laundry and yard work. It feels like we’re a hundred miles from home. The other great thing is that it enables us to get the kids away from TV and electronics so that we can get them involved in nature hikes and other outdoor activities.”

And because the Jellystone Park is so close to their home, it’s easy for the Ervins to take their kids to weekend sporting events and still have time to enjoy the many planned activities at the campground, including ice cream socials and outdoor movies. This summer’s themed events also include Christmas in July and Caribbean Princess and Pirates weekends.

Meanwhile, Tami McDonald, 41, of Pittsfield, Ill. said her favorite place to go with her husband and three girls, ages 2, 4, and 8, is the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Pine Lake, partly because the park offers beach camping, planned activities and it’s only a few miles from their home.

Working at two hospitals as an anesthesiologist, Tami McDonald also said she gets little time off, but it’s easy to meet her husband and the kids at the park for mini vacations whenever she does have time to get away.

In fact, the McDonalds leave their fifth wheel on a campsite at the Jellystone Park all summer so that it’s all set up and ready to use whenever they need it. They even have family members in town who leave their trailer at the park and bring their kids to the campground for weekend rendezvous.

“We’ve also got friends in town who are thinking about moving their campers out to the campground and just leaving them there for the season,” McDonald said.

Michele Wisher, Director of Marketing for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises the Jellystone Park chain, said there are families across the country who live within minutes of Jellystone Parks and spend their vacation time there rather than make long-distance trips. “Families are doing this because they want to spend more quality time together and because they like the outdoor recreation, organized activities and family entertainment that Jellystone Parks provide,” she said.

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