Activities now available at your local campgrounds: floating down lazy rivers, rafting into unknown caverns, jumping down tumbling falls, scrambling through grottos and splashing away summer days by the riverbank.
A typical outing in the woods? Sure ? if you add chlorine to your venue, a few water slides and a multilevel play feature. That?s right, the waterpark, long a staple of suburbia, is fast becoming the hottest new attraction at family campgrounds across the United States.
?That?s a natural extension,? said Jeff Coy, president of JLC Hospitality Consulting Inc. in Cave Creek, Ariz. ?I can see an RV campground owner adding a waterpark very easily because it?s an extension of an outdoor pool.?
Many campgrounds already offer activities such as tennis, batting cages, rock climbing, swimming, guided hiking, minigolf and other kid-friendly outdoor activities. ?[They] extend their season and enhance their service level to the clients,? said Duane Wepking, aquatics project manager at Ramaker & Associates in Sauk City, Wis.
Waterparks vary in size and equipment, of course, but even adding a water slide and play feature makes the aquatics area more family-friendly and kid-suitable, Wepking said. His company has already added improvements to approximately 30 projects in the past two years at campgrounds, and continues to receive calls asking for more. He said many take on a theme to mirror the campground, usually with a woodsy or local historical feel.
Ron Vitkun added a waterpark at his campground, Yogi Bear?s Jellystone Park in Hagerstown, Md., with the idea of expanding in mind. ?We bought extra power as we built this. ? We planned there will be an addition. Upsizing the power, the transformers, everything is done in anticipation of phase two,? said the president of RV Properties Inc. in Williamsport, Md. Vitkun?s plans include a zero-entry splash area for toddlers, water basketball and volleyball, rain curtains, geysers and hydrotherapy in the pool for the parents.
Many camping areas already have full-fledged waterparks. Cherry Hill Camping Resort in Kaysville, Utah, features tube slides, pirates cove activity pool, an Olympic- size pool and a lazy river at its waterpark. Outdoor World Corp. has indoor waterparks at its locations from Maine to Florida and Illinois. Some campsites offer luxury cabins, making vacationing outdoors possible year ?round. The Yogi Bear?s Jellystone Park in Warrens, Wis., operates an outdoor and new indoor waterpark, open all year, with cabins and hotel lodging available. Paramount?s Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C., renovated its campground resort, offering about 200 campsites, 15 cabins and access to the waterpark via tram service.
?We?ve created a camping experience unlike any other in the region,? said Bob White, general manager.
The campground waterpark segment does not compete with hotel waterparks, thus avoiding industry cannibalization, Coy said. ?Those are two distinctly different markets,? he said. But the idea is the same: Draw families into the property with water play. Mother Nature has her ways.