Yogi Bear Campground
By Amber Mundinger-Glaeser
From Issue 56: Winter 2023
More than anyone, Gardiner residents know how special our town is and its unique location in the Hudson Valley. Having the world-renowned Shawangunk Ridge at our doorstep, along with cycling and hiking trails, climbing, vineyards, and orchards, makes the location a special spot to live year-round or experience across seasons as a visitor. One of the locations that visitors have frequented since the 1960s is “the campgrounds,” which became Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp in 1994. Then, in 2014, Lazy River Resort, LLC purchased the campgrounds and continues to operate it as Jellystone. Currently, the town board is reviewing Lazy River’s application to expand its Jellystone facility.
The Campground has evolved over the years from a rustic campsite with bluegrass festivals and hayrides in the 60’s to what it is today, with options for camping with tents, cabins, or RVs. Visitors can use the pools and splash zones, basketball, and volleyball courts across the 100 acres of the site while still enjoying the live music and hayrides that have been a part of the grounds experience for decades. Jellystone’s CEO, Zachary Bossenbroek, commented, “As a Jellystone, the Campground has consistently offered DJ dance parties, hayrides, and other activities and events typical of a Jellystone Camp,”
In February 2020, the Town of Gardiner enacted a new campground law. Town Supervisor, Marybeth Majestic, commented about the current application for expanding Jellystone’s facilities, saying, “the application is a result of the Town Board’s adoption of a new law governing campgrounds….it addresses possible expansion, as well as some elements of the campground that are not currently on an approved site plan.”
There are differing opinions about the application: CEO Bossenbroek commented, “The current application process should result in regulatory consistency for both the town and the Campground as opposed to navigating the complicated Campground history and application of the new campground law that was adopted in 2020. The current application process should also respect the ‘Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp’ business model, which has existed through various entities at the site since the 1960s,” and General Manager, Scott Masopust, added, “Every employee here is local—maybe not local to Gardiner but Pine Bush and Wallkill. We have more than 150 staffers.…we are really here for people to have a good time and to be a good neighbor.” However, town residents living adjacent to Jellystone have expressed frustration surrounding the noise and lack of consistent local management over the years. Mark Stutzman, a resident for 25 years whose property is directly next door to the campground, states, “It’s a fairly divided community right now. Folks who are severely annoyed about the noise, but others who don’t care. But many don’t know the extent of it. They have been using the property next door illegally. They use that property through October for laser tag and a haunted trail. I welcome folks to come to sit in my backyard. The town board should deny the application and figure out a way to enforce compliance to the code.”
Over several upcoming meetings, the Town Board will continue to review the application. When asked what the likelihood was of the town denying this new application, Town Supervisor Marybeth Majestic, stated, “The Town Board, after concluding their deliberations, may decide to deny the application. On the other hand, the town board may approve the application with special use conditions to remediate the adverse effects that were heard during the public hearings.”