Then came summer, and a torrent of first-time Jellystone campers who not only helped the park offset its springtime losses, but pushed it into the black 11% ahead of last year’s figures.
“It’s been an amazing year,”said Randy Work, who opened the Mill Run campground 40 years ago with his father, Glenn S. Work, and his sister, Glenda King.
The campground originally had only 40 sites and no affiliation with Jellystone Park. Randy Work’s father and sister left the business in the mid-1980s and in 1989, Work made a strategic move to join the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort chain, overseen by Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) of Milford, Ohio. The park has since grown to include 268 RV and tent sites as well as rental cabins, according to a written announcement from LSI.
“If not for Yogi, we wouldn’t be where we are today,”said Work, who runs the campground with his sons, Randall Jr. and Robert, and his longtime operations manager, Tracy Czambel.
Because of its proximity to the Youghiogheny River, the former Mill Run Campground had previously been a popular hangout for groups of river rafting enthusiasts who tended to be rowdy at night.
But by joining the Jellystone Park chain, Work was able to change the demographics of his campground to families with children.
“It took us three years to change our clientele from groups to families,”Work recalled. “The first three years were rough. But after the third year, things just snowballed. They just got better and better.”
The draw of Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Cindy Bear and Ranger Smith, combined with organized family activities and themed weekends, enables Jellystone Parks to help families create unique memories, according to LSI.
Activities at the Jellystone Park at Mill Run include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, face painting and paintball games as well as evening campfires and tuck-ins with the bears.
The themed weekends, which are scheduled from early April through October, range from family Olympics weekends with various sporting competitions to Christmas in July with campsite decorating, Christmas cookie making activities, visits by Santa Claus and Rudolph to “Halloween in August”with a costume contest, campsite decorating and trick-or-treating.
Work has further enhanced the magic by adding unique onsite attractions. His park was the first in the Jellystone Park chain to have a Boo Boo Cabin.
“The miniature Boo Boo Cabin has a 4-foot front door and a separate adult entrance,” Work said. “Everything is set for children. It gives the kids a unique experience of something small that they can enjoy.”
The Jellystone Park at Mill Run was also the first in Pennsylvania to have a fire truck ride, the first to have a train ride and the first to have waterslides.
“We were also the first campground in the U.S. to put in a snow tubing ride, according to the people we bought it from,” Work said. Similar in appearance to a long Slip-N-Slide, the snow tubing track is made of synthetic material. The ride is set up on a hill and participants can slide down in inner tubes, much like they would on a snow-covered hill.
Other unique attractions include hay rides and “Pic-A-Nic” basket rides.
Looking to the future, Work is planning to further expand the park. “I will be adding more cabins and campsites,” he said. “I’ll also be adding more attractions. I’ve got some more unique things I want to do.”
For more information about the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Mill Run, visit www.jellystonemillrun.com.