Rick Coleman, Rebecca Murphy, Christian Coleman, Jesse Coleman and Joey Coleman, left to right.
Jellystone Park at Daddy Joe’s of Tabor City took home several impressive awards from the National Jellystone Park convention in Cincinnati, Ohio recently.
Daddy Joe’s won the Pinnacle Club Outstanding Achievement and Excellence award, which is awarded to parks that rate 95 percent and higher on an annual inspection of their facilities and operations; the Outstanding Customer Service award; and Outstanding Achievement in the Area of Recreational Programming.
Daddy Joe’s manager Rebecca K. Murphy won the Rookie of the Year Manager award for the entire Jellystone Park Camp-Resort system.
Murphy is an Upstate New York native come south, having spent most of her life in the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area where she worked at campgrounds before joining the Daddy Joe’s staff. She says she enjoys the safe environment and being out of the hustle and bustle at Daddy Joe’s.
She wears a lot of hats in her job, planning a multitude of activities, theme weekends such as Halloween, Christmas in July, Doll Week, Fourth of July, day camps and events such as birthday parties, field trips, hayrides, church retreats and more.
The busy season kicks off at Easter and continues through summer and fall. However, some campers show up in winter to escape the harsh northern weather.
Daddy Joe’s caters to three types of clientele — traditional campers who bring their campers, non-traditional campers who rent cabins or yurts, and day users of the facilities. Day passes allow guests to use the facilities the same as campers and enjoy planned activities.
Winning awards as a Jellystone Park is not new to Daddy Joe’s, nor is it unusual. Just months after opening in 1999 as a fishing and hunting preserve in honor of the late Joe Coleman, Daddy Joe’s won the national Stewardship Award from the Progressive Farmer magazine for the unique design of the stream and lakes on the property.
The park is operated by Joe and Katherine Coleman’s sons and their families, Joey and Deb, Rick and Cathy, Richard and Heather, Jesse and Amber, and Christian.
Generations of Colemans were not only tobacco farmers, but also tobacco warehouse owners. They detected the gloomy future of tobacco many years ago and took action to preserve the family farms and make a living in a different way. Turning part of the land into a fishing and hunting preserve and naming it Daddy Joe’s was a loving tribute to the husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather of the Coleman family. Land that once produced tobacco, corn and pastures with irrigation ponds became areas for guided hunting trips and lakes for freshwater fishing. Rainbow trout were brought in each fall for fishing during winter months.
Yurts and a bathhouse were added in 2000. The Clubhouse, with an inventory of fishing and hunting supplies, was constructed and became the gathering place for meals for park guests.
The Clubhouse later became The Creamery, a popular hangout for people who got hooked on the wide variety of homemade ice cream, some made with fruits grown right here in Columbus County. Waffle cones and bowls, brownie sundaes, milkshakes and takeout containers are also offered in season.
A Ranger Station, another bathhouse and 36 campsites were added in the summer of 2001 when the Colemans began to make a transformation into a family campground and closed the hunting operation. The first pool opened and 16 more campsites were added in 2002.
Daddy Joe’s focused on family camping and joined Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park system in 2004, converting to franchise operations. Four Call of the Wild cabins were added in 2004, offering camping opportunities to more families, not just to those with tents and RVs. Tent sites and a tent bathhouse were added in 2005, continuing the Coleman tradition of making annual improvements. In 2006, 24 more sites were added, along with the lap pool, Water Wars, Camp Store and three Coyote cabins. Locomotion, the ultimate ride truck was born in 2008, taking dare-to-get-dirty moms, dads and kids in the mud and through the woods in a unique thrill adventure. Locomotion retired in 2013 after making many campers muddy and happy.
The park enjoyed a banner year in 2008, winning the Camp-Resort of the Year award, the highest honor of the 70-member Jellystone Park System across America. It also received the highest inspection award in the Jellystone system.
“These awards belong to each of our dedicated employees who worked to get us there,” said Rick Coleman. “Our guests also share the award because they have shared the dream and invested in our resort by camping with us.”
Coleman also said the waterslides and quad buddy sites opened with positive response from guests. The quad buddy sites offer four families a common courtyard for their own private camping retreat.
Another special year was 2009 when the Camp Ministry Team, Jerry and Daphne Phillips, was added. “
Worship and Bible study have continued to be a part of the resort and we are very excited about our ministry team as they share with our guests,” Rick Coleman said.
“We are all about amenities and the fun we can offer guests,” Coleman said. “That is why in 2012 we added Daddy Joe’s Mini Golf Course, another swimming pool and the Jumping Pillow. That same year we also added 35 campsites, seven cabins and two bunkhouses that hold 20 people each, providing a great way for groups to enjoy the camping experience.”
Down Pour Derby, another water attraction, was added in 2013, providing many afternoons of fun and laughter for kids and adults. The Activity Center was enclosed that year, opening the door to new options when the weather is cold and rainy.
Paved roads were added to the park in 2014, improving the camping experience even more.
“It is important to us, and always will be, to move forward in the camping industry to provide the best family camping experience possible to our customers,” Coleman said. “What began as a farm diversification project now stands as a nationally known and awardwinning resort that covers 350 acres with nine ponds and miles of trails for hiking and biking. Church groups, scouts and family reunions can find plenty to do while gathering for a retreat at Daddy Joe’s.”