Award-winning Jellystone Park Sets the Pace with a 5K Race too

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The Jellystone Park in Tyler, Texas, will start the New Year with its second annual 5K run, which is open to the public. The campground  ̶  which is family owned and operated by Don and Jan Tardy and their two adult children  ̶  also recently received the highest award in the Jellystone Park franchise network.

On Tuesday, January 1, the 5K Fun Run is open to the public as well as park guests. It will include a participation Medallion and/or Medal for first, second and third place in each age group, along with shirts. Registration is $25 per person competing. For those just wanting to have fun, join in and walk the 5K for free.

Six years ago, Don and Jan Tardy and their adult children, Colt and Bree Perrin, acquired the former Whispering Pines RV & Cabin Resort, began investing in improvements. They joined the Jellystone Park franchise network in 2013.

Half a dozen years later, the Tardy family’s Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines has not only enjoyed significant year-over-year gains in revenue and occupancy, but they’ve won Camp Resort of the Year Award, the highest award in the Jellystone Park franchise network. The award is presented by Leisure Systems, Inc. (LSI), the Milford, Ohio-based company that franchises more than 80 Jellystone Park Camp Resort across the United States and Canada.

The award recognizes the Camp-Resort whose facilities and operations exceed all the Jellystone Park standards.  Recipients must be Pinnacle Club members, meaning they rate 95 percent or higher on the annual LSI assessment of their facilities and operations. Award recipients also must have achieved strong growth in business, implemented sustained improvements, and be leaders in the industry.

The Tardys also won the Western Region Camp-Resort of the Year Award and LSI’s Facility of the Year Award, for parks less than 225 sites, which is presented to the Camp-Resorts that have shown sustained improvements to their facilities. In addition, the Tardys received 100 Percent Club Award, which is presented to Camp-Resorts that score 100 percent on annual inspections of their facilities and operations by the LSI assessors. They also received an award for the quality of their comfort stations and an outstanding customer service award for scoring 88 percent or higher on annual guest satisfaction surveys.

“All of this was really unexpected,” said Don Tardy. “We’re very humbled and so appreciative of all of this recognition for our efforts. We are grateful for all our guests who made this possible.”

The Tardys attribute their success in part to the many improvements they’ve made to their park, the latest of which is an 11,000 square-foot water zone that opened over Memorial Day weekend 2018.

Other improvements in recent years include a large maze, a laser tag course, a miniature golf course, pickleball courts, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court and improvements to the horseshoe and washer pits.

The Tardys have also been converting many of their campsites into “Premium” and “Platinum” RV Sites.  They include covered decks, picnic tables, barbecue grills.  They are larger and more user friendly for today’s big RV rigs and coaches.

The Tardys have been busy adding cabins, too, the latest of which are three 800+ square-foot units with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. “Each of them can sleep as many as eight people.  They are very nice for the bigger families or when two families want to come together,” Tardy said, adding that the large cabins also have covered decks and attached areas with fire pits and picnic tables.

“We’re finding that our campers appreciate more space in their cabins and their RV sites,” Tardy said.

Altogether, the Jellystone Park at Whispering Pines has 100 campsites and 33 rental cabins, including 14 loft cabins.  Several of the cabins also have pond views.

Jellystone Parks are famous for providing fun, family activities and themed weekends that include everything from crafts and games to wagon rides and regular appearances by Yogi Bear and Boo Boo.

The Tardys take it a step further by adding their own unique events, including a 5K Fun Run/Walk on New Year’s Morning. “The 5K Fun Run/Walk is open to the public so you don’t have to be camping with us over New Year’s Eve to participate,” Tardy said, noting that signup information is available online.

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