An established park developer, Northgate owns multiple parks throughout the U.S., including a number of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts.
Amid its efforts to expand further though, Northgate felt it was time to create a brand that appealed to a broader demographic than the family-centered Jellystone Park system.
“Our first Camp Fimfo park is only a mile or so away from our existing Jellystone Park in New Braunfels, Texas, so we felt we had to differentiate it for that market,” explained Zach Bossenbroek, Northgate’s CEO. “That got the wheels turning on how we can make this brand work, not just solve the issue at this particular site, but more broadly how we can develop a brand that appeals to a broader demographic.
“It’s good to have this brand that connects with our campers on more of an emotional level,” he continued. “It’s getting this consistent voice with this consistent message through our marketing, our properties and everything that we’re offering. Then you start to really connect on a more emotional level with campers, which will make them tell their friends and come back and be repeat visitors. Also, it lets you tell what the competitive advantages are at your parks versus staying at other parks.”
Opened on July 1, the New Braunfels park currently offers 250 sites, with around 180 cabins planned during the second phase of construction which is set to break ground next month.
Announced in late August, Northgate is also opening a second Camp Fimfo park next spring in Waco, Texas. In addition to more than 300 cabins and RV sites across 100 acres, the new property includes mainstays of the Camp Fimfo brand: a waterpark, mini-golf course, bike rentals and even alternative glamping options will all be available by the park’s opening, with more features to follow.
Bossenbroek said the company plans to expand the brand outside of Texas, but that the current Camp Fimfo locations offered some great opportunities to launch the brand.
“I think Texas was the starting point because the site in New Braunfels right on the Guadalupe River is amazing and we are up to 350 acres on that site,” he mentioned. “The next park in Waco is in a strong market that has so much going for it. It is close to major cities like Dallas and Austin, and even some from Houston will come to the Waco area. Then, of course, you have the Chip and Joanna Gaines phenomena that draws tens of thousands of visitors a week to the area.”
What can campers expect when they reserve a site at a Camp Fimfo park?
“We try to keep it creative and keep the campers guessing to some degree,” said Bossenbroek. “Campers will go around a corner on a hike and we will have something there that they might not expect as a camper or a hiker. That is going to be a common thread at all of our parks.
“We also want to make our cabins extremely comfortable, well designed, well decorated and really pull in some of the local flair,” he added. “I think that’s going to be a cool element that you’re going to see it at each one of the Camp Fimfo parks. And of course, we are going to have really fun amenities. At our New Braunfels location, you are right on the Guadalupe River where you can tube and fly fish, and just really take in a lot of what that unique site offers.”
While well-appointed RV sites are a given at Camp Fimfo locations, Northgate is also providing sites for tent campers and exploring the many ways Camp Fimfo can incorporate cabins and other unique accommodation units.
Camp Fimfo’s Coyote Cabins are modern, yet rustic, according to Brossenbroek, and include three bedrooms. Some are treehouse cabins that are elevated among the trees.
“They offer great views,” he noted.
While the park does offer a-frame stick-built tents that campers can utilize, Brossenbroek said that Northgate is exploring other glamping canvas tent options at future parks. As far as the traditional tent sites, he noted that those sites help introduce people to camping and fill areas of the park not well-suited for RVs.
“We have one area of the New Braunfels park, for instance, that we didn’t want to build a bridge over a small creek to access for RV sites,” he highlighted. “We wanted to maintain a nice riverfront and keep the natural beauty and trees intact. That offered us the opportunity to create more of a rustic campsite there. You have campers who maybe don’t have an RV or might want to enjoy a more rustic experience and these sites give them that option.”
Brossenbroek noted that the Camp Fimfo brand has also helped Northgate tackle the permitting process, which can be a long one for many park developers. He said that the first location in New Braunfels wasn’t located within city limits, making the process quite easy, but that the Waco location was more challenging.
“We had to go through the zoning process, but fortunately we had our first location somewhat in mind already, so we were able to present that along with our operating track record and the type of product we offer,” Brossenbroek explained. “We were able to show them that we were going to be complimentary, and it went very smoothly.
“Remember these people on zoning boards or city councils, a lot of them are campers too or are at least looking for their families to have a great vacation opportunity in the area,” he added. “When we present a package that shows what we’ve actually done at other Camp Fimfo parks around the country, that’s exciting to them. That’s a product that they will want to approve.”
Brossenbroek said he doesn’t see the interest in camping slowing down anytime soon and that Northgate is continuing to find ways to expand even further.
“Fun is always more fun outside,” he noted. “So, I think people are going to keep looking for ways to camp outside.”