Hey, Boo Boo.
Clearwater Park, a private campground in northern Stark County, has joined the national Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts chain, named for the park inhabited by cartoon character Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo.
“I’ve been thinking about this move for a couple of years,” said Mert Yoder, owner of the 46-acre Clearwater Park in Lake Township.
“It just seemed like Jellystone had what it took to grow the business, to take the campground business up a notch.”
Clearwater, off state Route 619 near the Summit County line, will get a big marketing boost, including being listed on the Jellystone website, and other help from the national chain, Yoder said.
Yoder declined to reveal financial terms of the deal.
Campgrounds in the 44-year-old Jellystone chain promote themselves with the Yogi Bear image. Officials with the company, headquartered outside Cincinnati, did not disclose terms of the deal in a news release and could not be reached for comment.
Yoder and his wife, Charlene, bought Clearwater Park Camping Resort, which includes a water park, about 10 years ago. They purchased it from another local family, who founded the facility in 1947.
“I was looking for a change,” said Yoder, 48, who previously had an excavation business.
Yoder said he and Charlene quickly set about updating Clearwater to make it more competitive. Yoder said the couple invested $700,000 in improvements and new amenities, including pull-through campsites, cabins, a water slide, an 18-hole miniature golf course and a mining sluice, where children can “pan” for stones.
The Yoders also offer whiskey barrel “train” rides (the barrel train cars — made by Mert Yoder — are hauled by a tractor); exotic animal shows, outdoor family movie nights and dog swim days.
“We offer many of the things that Jellystone Parks are normally known for,” Yoder said.
“We thought we might as well align with a company that can help us market our park much more efficiently and effectively.”
The Lake Township park’s new sign will promote the place as “Akron-Canton Jellystone Park.” The existing Clearwater Park sign will remain to promote the swimming pool, frequented by locals.
“The Clearwater Park is still the swimming pool. The Jellystone focus is the campground,” Yoder said.
The facility, not far from the shopping mecca that is the Hartville MarketPlace and Hartville Flea Market, also offers a large picnic pavilion that can seat 700.
Yoder is stepping up his marketing of the pavilion as a spot for corporate events.
Camping rates for 2013 have not been set. Last year, campers (two people per site) paid $44 a night from Memorial Day through Labor Day (weekly and monthly rates were available).
The camping rates included two passes to the water park. Additional daily water park passes may be purchased.
Daily passes for the water park for noncampers were $10.50 each.
Clearwater is the only Ohio camping facility in the Jellystone Park system.
The Jellystone Park system, launched in 1969, bills itself as the country’s second-largest chain of campgrounds. It has 78 campgrounds in 30 states and Canada.
Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, with offices in Milford, Ohio, are franchised through Leisure Systems Inc., a subsidiary of the Park River Corp.
Leisure Sytems’ website —www.jellystonefranchise.com — says campgrounds in its network get traditional and online marketing support; training in operations, special events and recreation; operations manuals, as well as access to Yogi Bear merchandise that can be sold to campers.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.