Meet One of Our Newest Members! - August 15, 2016

Hey there, it's Yogi Bear... in Lodi!

STOCKTON — A Lodi camping ground is undergoing a complete overhaul, and when it’s finished, visitors should take care to keep a close eye on their ‘pic-a-nic’ baskets.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Northgate Resorts recently purchased the 272-site Kampground of America near Tower Park Marina in Terminous, with plans of converting it into a Jellystone Park Camp Resort.
Jellystone Park, of course, is the home of Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo, popular cartoon characters from the 1960s.

The pair’s adventures typically revolved around Yogi — who wore a green pork-pie hat and matching necktie, spoke in rhyme and sounded like Art Carney in ‘The Honeymooners’ — developing hilarious ways to steal picnic baskets from park visitors and outfoxing Ranger Smith.

Northgate Resorts is a family-owned real estate company that operates nine campgrounds across America, eight of which are Jellystone Park resorts.

The company officially took over the campground at the end of July, according to Northgate spokeswoman Jill Simpson, and the park’s staff is bringing the park up to standards.

She said Lodi was chosen as a new Jellystone Park because of its close proximity to both the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, as well as for its camping demographic.

“We found that a lot of people in California were camping,” Simpson said. “We’re excited about expanding by going into Lodi, which has a lot of attractive amenities, what with the wine industry and its agritourism.”

Some of the upgrades already undertaken, Simpson said, include installing a new sand volleyball pit and a jump pillow — an inflatable trampoline that appears to be partially buried under sand or concrete.

Other amenities to be added include a splash park, which will feature a multi-level structure with water slides into a pool.

While KOA locations typically have tented camp sites, Jellystone will have only five. The park, according to Ranger Chris Hinckley, will host primarily RVs and cabin-dwellers, with some 100 new one-room cabins to be installed soon.

The cabins come equipped with television, Wi-Fi, refrigerators, air conditioning and coffee machines, a barbecue, fire pit and a patio or deck. More like glamping than camping.

For a family staying in the cabins, there is a room for the adults offering a queen-sized bed, and bunk beds for the children, typically near the common area of the structure.

A few of the cabins will be pet-friendly, complete with bowls and mats when guests make reservations in advance.

Each park features elements from the Yogi Bear cartoon and offers organized family activities and themed weekends with the character who is "smarter than the average bear."

Those activities include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, face painting, gem mining, movie nights, as well as visits from Boo-Boo, Yogi and his girlfriend, Cindy.

Simpson said it is unknown if the park will feature a Ranger Smith character. She added, unfortunately, that none of the park’s employees have the Smith surname.

Some at the campground on Friday enjoyed the campground’s transition.

Rylan and Rachel Smith were visiting from Southern California, watching their children play in the park’s pool. They had stayed at the campground last year when it was a KOA and said the park’s new look had been great.

“Our only issue was trying to find it,” Rylan Smith said. “We knew it as a KOA the last time we were here, and when we came up, we didn’t know it had changed.”

Although they were staying only one night, they like the fact there was a lot of things to do besides lounge by the pool. Rachel Smith said they were planning on going to movie night.

“This is a nice place,” she said. “It’s big, with lots of things to do for the kids. It’s great here.”

Sherri Hughston was visiting from San Francisco with her brother and his four children. They arrived Thursday, and, like many at the park, were spending a toasty Friday at the pool.

The family had been to other campgrounds and learned there was a Jellystone Park while researching online for new places to go. Hughston said she didn’t know anything like the resort existed.

“We were looking for something that would be good for the kids as well as us,” she said. “Then we found this, and it just looked great. I didn’t even know Yogi Bear was still popular and wondered if any kids knew who he was.”

Launched in 1969, there are 84 Jellystone resorts across the United States and Canada, franchised by Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems, Inc.

The nearest Jellystone resort to Lodi is in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
For more information about the Jellystone system, go to campjellystone.com. For more information about the Lodi location, go to towerparkresport.com/jellystone, or call (209) 369-1041.

— Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258 or wbowers@nullrecordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/bowersblog and on Twitter @WBowersTSR.

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