Screen Gems would get 6% of the gross sales of each park,” Haag said. The first Jellystone Park opened on July 4, 1969, in Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., and was billed as Door County, Wisc.’s “newest out- door recreation facility.” The campground immediately drew twice as many families as it was designed for, noted Haag, who passed away in May 2018. Jump ahead to 2019 and the system is celebrating its 50th anniversary — and now features more than 80 parks spread through- out North America. Owned by Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), the parks continue to focus on being a family-friendly destination for campers. “Our target market has always been fami- lieswithkids,thatisalwayswhowearegoing to appeal to,” noted Jim Westover, vice president of product development and sales. Rob Schutter, LSI’s president, told WCM that the Jellystone Park system has worked to continually evolve over its history, making sure to meet the demands of campers over its five decades in existence. “We have always had an eye on making sure we are offering what guests are looking for,” he noted. “Our franchisees want to offer something they can feel proud of — and we have accomplished that.” Schutter explained that throughout its his- tory the Jellystone Park system has focused on developing its camp stores, accommoda- tion offerings and of course its water amenities — which Jellystone Parks have come to be known for. Besides just the Jellystone Parks with larger water slides and features, smaller Jellystone Parks are investing in splash pads and inflatable water courses, amenities that Schutter said have an impact on drawing in campers for longer stays. “We have seen from that, not only a transformation in our revenue, but in the clientele that are coming to our parks,” he mentioned. “We have people that will stay longer, because they like being able to enjoy the water features, but not have to worry about the long lines they may have had to deal with at a tradi- tional water park.” Kelly Jones, LSI’s vice president of op- erations, whose family owned a pri- vate campground they later turned into a Jellystone Park and sold about 15 years ago, said the Jellystone Park system continues to improve because owners and LSI officials look outside the private campground sectors to generate more ideas. “Who else are we competing with, so to speak, for families’ time?” she asked. “ You have big water parks, you have Six Flags, you have the YMCA camps, the church camps. So, we also attend the National Parks and Recreation Association’s conference and the American Camp Association conference. We try to look in a number of different avenues so that we can see what other groups are gearing up for, as well.” One of the main areas LSI has continued to focus on is ensuring park owners are merchandising their camp stores. At LSI’s main office in Milford, Ohio, the company has a room dedicated to showing off all of the merchandise that the company offers for sale to owners. Everything from cup cozies to T-shirts, umbrellas, magnets and more. Infact,merchandisesaleshaveincreased so much that LSI has had to expand its ware- house to keep up with all of the orders that have been pouring in. In 2018, LSI offered more than 900 pieces in its product line. Renata Evans, vice president of corporate retail, works with owners to ensure that their stores are set up properly and that they are tracking the hot selling items at their parks. “Campers want items that they can take home and will remind them of their stay,” she explained. “Plus, owners who work to merchandise their stores correctly are find- ing that sales have increased and they are making more money.” To kick off the next 50 years, LSI has begun eagerly looking to expand westward and hosted a prospective owner’s workshop this past spring which led to some positive leads, according to Westover. “Westward there are less territory issues and there is a lot of state and national park camping out there. That is where we are going to target and keep looking to go,” he noted. He said that one of the challenges LSI faces as it looks to expand its system is the large investment that is required to build or convert a park into a Jellystone Park. “That’s going to narrow the pool of poten- tial owners,” explained Westover. “Even on conversion parks we’re looking at parks that have 100-120 sites or more. There may be be- tween 17,000 to 18,000 parks out there in total, but maybe only 6,000 or 7,000 qualify to even be in our brand as it stands now. “That’s not saying that those smaller parks can’t do it, with the ability to expand, but it’s always going to be an obstacle,” he continued. “Then the Small Business Admin- istration offers financing for an individual only going up to $5 million. Some of our park owners, with the volume they do, it puts them up to that number relatively quickly when Doug Haag, the founder of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise, told Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) in 2014 that the idea behind the franchise was sparked by his kids watching cartoons. After launching a Manitowoc, Wisc., advertising company, Haag told WCM that he had always wanted to start a chain of campgrounds, but that nothing had come to mind that fit his vision. “Until one day when I heard my kids listening to Yogi Bear on TV. I thought, ‘That’s it!’ And the Jellystone Park concept was born,” explained Haag. After approaching Hannah Barbara and an affiliated company, Screen Gems, Haag was given the rights to use the Yogi Bear characters. “We made the agreement on a hand- shake and drew up the documents that said The LSI team, standing from left to right: Myra Jimison, Mike Hoffer, Lisa Courtney, Wesley Lukemire, Kelly Jones, Rob Schutter, Renata Evans, Marcy Mentzer, Tiffany Davies, Stephanie Sears, Dan Wolford, Alex Reed. Seating from left to right: Marley Behnke, Jim Westover, Lauri Hart, Trent Hershenson. 14 - July 2019 Woodall’s Campground Management BY BEN QUIGGLE Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts Celebrates 50Years of Outdoor Hospitality Doug Hagg with Yogi Bear (R) and Boo Boo. Left to right: Jim Westover, Trent Hershenson, Rob Schutter and Kelly Jones. An early campsite at the Door County Jellystone Park — the first park to join the system — along with the park’s first printed brochure.