Tuesday, September 26, 2023


The campground was crowded, noisy, smoky… and wonderful

The campground was crowded, noisy, filled with campfire smoke … and just plain wonderful! We joined the ranks of the weekend warriors, at least for this one weekend. We camped with close and extended family this past weekend at a Jellystone Park in Warrens, Wisconsin.

Happy weekend-warrior campers

We arrived on a Thursday and watched the campground fill up, trailer by trailer. Happy families with oodles of kids and dogs spilled out of trucks and cars. Camp chairs, firewood, tables and grills were not far behind. Ice houses, tiny pull-behinds, and humongous fifth wheels were favored.

There was so much excitement in the air—it was contagious! We started camping here about 29 years ago with our young kids. It was the first time we could let them run free while we relaxed. I was instantly in love!

The park has changed over the years. It has expanded and gotten more expensive with more amenities. But it still carries the same excitement for the next generation of campers that it had for us.

Does the poor construction or crowding even matter?

On this website, we often talk about the poor construction of RVs. But does poor construction even matter to these weekend warriors? They seem thrilled with their new RVs. They are just happy to be camping.

We talk about campground crowding as a blight on our enjoyment. Here it is crowded… but no blight. We were packed in like sardines! And for this, I made reservations a year ago! Actually, it was three years ago, but COVID got in the way… twice.

Controlled chaos

The campground is crowded and the air is foggy with campfire smoke. Each site has a fire going and a group seated around it. Noise is high, traffic is horrific and sometimes a kid runs through our site. There are kids on bikes everywhere, babies crying, families playing games, campfires roaring, golf carts speeding along and cars trying to get through at a mile an hour.

So what’s to like?

Family. Generations of family. Squeals of laughter. Eating together. Crafts, water park, outdoor movies and mini-golf. Joy. The kids watch Yogi ride by in a golf cart. It reminds me of going to an overpacked concert but coming out happy.

Welcome the weekend warriors

Welcome to you, the weekend warrior. We have joined your ranks and, just like you, we need to pack up on Sunday to get back to our camp host job four hours away. I am thankful for the patch of green to put our chairs on, full hookups, and that the cable was not working. I’m thankful for family, and for our son being able to pass on the joy to his son. Thank you for the years.



Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


  1. Is it still a waterpark?
    We took our kids there MANY years ago.
    Probably the best rembered of all the places we’ve been. Heard they were in financial trouble and shutting down some features.
    Really hope they can revive it back to the good ol days.

  2. What you experienced is what camping is all about! The kids and grandkids grow up too quickly. Loved the couple times our grandkids were able to come.

  3. We never experienced what Nanci describes when our boys were young because they were on year-round schools until jr. high. So, our “summer” vacations began when other kids’ summer vacation ended. That’s why we were able to go to Yellowstone NP in mid-Sept. with no crowds except retirees. And that’s why we heard one older lady turn to another in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn to say, in a NY-NJ stage whisper, “What are those kids doing here? This is OUR time of the year!”

    During our boys’ spring vacation from February to early April, we were able to ski on weekdays. There were no long lift lines and the slopes were remarkably uncrowded. They could ski circles around us at age 12!

  4. Bingo! You hit the nail on the head—-this is not something that you would choose to do each and every weekend—but for a planned family get-together, it is perfect. It is all about making memories, having fun together and doing something different. Tolerating and overlooking the imperfections and just enjoying the moments.

  5. Everyone camps for different reasons and has different things they like. This sounds awful to me. We camp to get away from people and noise, and enjoy nature. Close sites, screaming kids and barking dogs are a huge negative for us. No thanks.

  6. My wife and i are owners. We loved it so much we bought our spot. This place has been neglected by the old owners for many many years. With staffing shortages and the insane neglect on many things at park it will easily take this new company a couple years to get back to what most remember. They have been hiring contractors non stop to do many of these upgrades. So please give them some time. Its an amazing place built on family fun. And i need dryer wood lol

  7. I will bet that most of us started as weekend warriors with kids, had fun and created fond memories. We didn’t notice run-down, unlevel spots, slow check-in, check-out, noisy kids, dogs, golf carts, etc. etc. We had fun and enjoyed being away for just a little while. I don’t think campfires or bugs bothered us, we expected it. When did we become old grumps, expecting level spots, while CAMPING?, full blown gift/grocery shop, fancy bathrooms, etc, etc. on and on. I can’t stop the years from adding up, but dang-it I will NOT stop being a kid! Camping and having fun with the unexpected – OR being safe in an assisted living cocoon? – yep, I can still put up with, and enjoy, a Yogi Bear once-in-a-while, because THAT brings back fond memories too.

  8. Your article was like turning the page from what we experience daily to one where we have community focused on fun and togetherness. I loved reading it, thanks.

  9. We doing same thing this yr at Jellystone Park Branson MO. We will have family fm different parts of TX, different parts of MO, youngest daughter & her family fm IN. This will be our third annual trip to this Jellystone Park. It has been a great time each visit.

  10. Just returned from Jellystone with our Grandson. It is a great place for kids, but they are very unorganized. They have the worst push button showers I have ever seen. The first one we tried was 3 seconds per push the second one was 5 seconds per push. Very frustrating!
    They obviously don’t have enough help to enforce rules, speeding golfcarts etc.. There were no golf balls for mini golf, so kids were climbing over the counter to get the balls out of the return.
    The older part is getting very run down.The cabin behind us had a window screen and skirting leaning up agains the building and the propane tank looked like it had not been painted for MANY years.On Thursday when we returned from biking, ther was a line of probably 20 campers waiting to get in to register. RV’s were blocking the highway for about an hour and a half.
    It’s too bad because we had a fun week there.

  11. You are spot on Nanci! We live in WI and do an annual camping trip to Jellystone Warrens with our two young children. It’s exactly as you described!

  12. This is wonderful! There certainly are times that we enjoy the peace and solitude of remote camping, but we also get great pleasure sitting in our campsite watching while multi-generations of families experience the joy of camping and family. I hope this continues for generations to come. Thank you Nanci for sharing your weekend camping trip with us.


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