Missouri Campground Owners Join Up with Yogi Bear
Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of five news releases discussing the new Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts across the U.S.
Shoal’s Bend RV Resort near Forsyth, Mo., was a diamond in the rough when Garry and Debbie Ingram bought the 75-site park two years ago.
“It was a popular hangout for rowdy adults, partiers and people who would stay up all night,” Debbie Ingram recalled.
But the Ingrams have changed the image of the park by getting rid of the problem guests and investing more than $80,000 in improvements, including larger campsites, upgraded campsites with patios and outdoor chimineas, new landscaping, remodeled bathrooms, a new dog walk and a 20- by 60-foot outdoor pavilion, which they plan to complete by April 1. according to a news release.
And now the Ingrams are raising the profile of their park by joining the family friendly Jellystone Park Camp Resorts chain, the second largest campground network in the country.
“There aren’t any family-oriented campgrounds in this area, so we’re hoping to attract families from Springfield who want to get away for the weekend as well as people from some of the surrounding towns,” Ingram said.
And families that visit the park will have plenty of fun things to do. The Ingrams have lined up activities and special events every weekend through spring, summer and fall, including Easter egg decorating and games on Easter weekend; a pajama parade to wake up Yogi Bear on the weekend of April 9-11; a Cinco de Mayo celebration on the weekend of May 1-3 with crafts, activities and pinatas; special activities for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as well as a family Olympics, a Western roundup weekend, a pirate-themed weekend and a Christmas in July party.
This is in addition to other activities, including pancake breakfasts, ice cream socials and family movie and Karaoke nights. Of course, all these activities have an extra element of fun with Yogi Bear participating. Yogi will be on site daily to greet campers, pose for photo ops and take part in events.
All of this is a big change for the Ingrams, who previously had separate careers, with Debbie working full-time for a payroll company and Garry running four convenience stores. “It got so hectic with our schedules,” Debbie recalled.
But what finally pushed the Ingrams over the edge was when one of their store clerks was held up and shot, even after handing the robber money from the cash register. The clerk survived, but the experience left the Ingrams rattled, and more determined than ever to find another way to make a living.
But what to do?
“We took a camping trip to relax and my husband said, ‘I think I want to buy a campground,'" Debbie Ingram recalled.
The Ingrams initially purchased a distressed campground in Texas in 1997 with plans to fix it up and resell it. But they wound up liking the campground business so much they proceeded to purchase, fix up and resell two other Texas campgrounds and one other Missouri campground before purchasing Shoals Bend RV Resort in 2008.
“Now my husband and I see each other all the time,” Debbie Ingram said, adding that they will celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, “We think going into the campground business is the best decision we’ve ever made.”