Renovations at Jellystone Park Camp-Resort help add shine to ‘hidden gem’ for vacationers

Jellystone water slide

Two water slides are among the recent additions and renovations at Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Pittsfield. | Addi Zanger

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — Multi-million-dollar renovations recently were completed at Jellystone Park Camp-Resort.

The upgrades to the popular camping spot have been in the works for two years. They include 30 new glamping cabins, four glamping tents, two vacation rental homes and a new camp store. Two water slides have been added, as well as an entire water playground with a splash pad. 

Park manager Bekah Wintjen says these additions have improved the experience for park-goers and help bring in more new customers. 

“I think it will enhance our uniqueness. We’re sort of a hidden gem,” Wintjen said. “I don’t think it will change who we are. It will just bring a lot more attention to what we already have existing.” 

The heart of the park remains Pine Lake, which features a sandy beach and massive floating obstacle course along with plenty of space for boating, paddleboarding and fishing. It is encircled by a hiking trail. 

Beth Van Hecke, Jellystone’s general manager of three years, says these renovations — in addition to pulling in more customers — help to fulfill the ideals that the park aims to achieve. Family values and fun for all ages is one of the main goals of Jellystone. 

“We’re all about family here, so we always say we want to be able to provide something that children ages zero to 100 can enjoy,” Van Hecke said.

The addition of the splash pad caters to younger children. Ashlie Cushman, a mother and first-time Jellystone camper, said the splash pad was very important to her when traveling with her young children.

“(Our favorite part has been) the water attractions, because we have kids and, of course, that’s the first thing they want to do,” Cushman said.

She said the water attractions were one of the main reasons she made the three-hour drive to Jellystone from Chester, Ill. 

“That’s why we pick the parks we pick,” she said. “We have to keep them entertained, too.”

The upgrades to the park not only brought in new customers but also brought old customers back. 

After going to Jellystone in their childhoods, members of the Daniels family hadn’t been to the park in more than 20 years. They recently made the trip back with their own kids and said they were shocked to see how much it had changed. They were especially impressed with how much safer the swimming area had become over the years.

“The camping has gotten better, and the swimming area has really, really improved,” Kristi Daniels said. 

The new additions brought them family back and apparently will keep them coming back in the future. 

“We’re going to try to make it a once-a-year trip,” Amanda Daniels said. 

Addi Zanger, a 2023 Quincy Notre Dame graduate, is serving as an intern for Muddy River News during the summer. She plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri in the fall.

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