Hundreds camp to close out a memorable South Dakota summer

Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 8:38 PM CDT
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BRANDON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Labor Day weekend is widely regarded as the unofficial end of summer. Families make the most of the long weekend by spending it doing fun activities together, like camping. Around 600 people did just that and made their way to Jellystone Park this weekend for one last summer getaway. It caps off a summer to remember.

The heat didn’t hold campers back from having a good time. Cooling off in the pool and other recreation keeps campers coming back.

“We had a really good summer,” said Christina Lien, one of the park managers. “Business was really good. We’ve come up off a little bit of those peaks right as covid and after covid levels, but still a really strong business.”

For Christina and her brother, Ray Aljets, there’s more than one way to define success. Bringing in more campers is great for profit, but they’re in the business of making memories. Their family has been running the location since they were kids and they say it’s been a rewarding experience.

“It was always what I wanted to do,” explained another park manager, Ray Aljets. “It was always, was it going to be a possibility? As we grew over thirty years of camping and running the operation, we’ve started much smaller than we are now and organically growing to the point at which this was a possibility for me to do full-time.”

“We are a family-owned business that’s been here for over thirty years, so my brother and I both grew up working in the business, so we have people who camp with us that watched us grow up, have watched my kids grow up,” Lien said. “I also have a couple of grandkids, so our customers get invested in our lives and we get invested in their lives.”

At Jellystone, the end of summer doesn’t mean the work stops. It opens the door for new activities in the fall like a corn maze, trick-or-treating and more.

“Falls are great camping times,” described Aljets. “It’s cool at night. Campfires are great. Just because this is kind of the last weekend of summer, there’s still a lot of good outdoor recreation to do in the fall.”

One thing is clear: the end of summer just gives way to the beginning of more memories in the fall.