Park comes  full circle

Jason and Jessica Fulkerson, and 4-year-old Ryker, will make their new home at Lafayette Campground where the couple has taken over as managers as of Jan. 1.

A new job will allow a Gothenburg woman to give her son the same kind of wonderful childhood memories she experienced at his age - growing up in a park.

Interviews for a new manager for the city’s Lafayette Campground were conducted by Parks Director Noah Dea and members of the Park & Recreation Board in December. Three candidates were interviewed for the position, and after the park board’s recommendation the City Council approved an independent contract agreement with Jason and Jessica Fulkerson on Dec. 21. The Fulkerson’s officially took over as campground managers on Jan. 1, 2022.

Jessica explained that she and Jason decided to apply for the position upon suggestions by friends and family members. “We discussed it and it just seemed like a great opportunity for us,” she said.

One of those who recommended the job for the couple was Jessica’s parents, who themselves had served as campground managers a number of years ago. “My parents moved out there when I was 4-years-old and we lived out there for five years. Some of my best memories are from there. I used to love to play in the trees and pretend like I was lost in the wilderness,” Jessica fondly recalled. “It was a great place to watch fireworks and I’m excited to be able to give Ryker those same memories, at the same age.”

She said being campground manager is not something she ever considered or thought she might have the opportunity to do. “I never thought it would go full circle and that I would be out there as an adult too, but I love that it has. I’m very excited about it.”

Jason said he is most looking forward to just getting to be outdoors and meeting and greeting the variety of people. “I’m a people person. It will be fun,” he said. “We aren’t planning on just being there short-term. We’re young enough that we want to be there for 25 years or so, like the Smiths were.”

Jessica said she was sad when her parents decided to move from the park, which was the result of a growing family and not enough room in the house. She said that will not be an issue for her and Jason. The couple also said that being tied down to the park during the summer months will not be an issue either.

“We’re not really summer vacation type of people,” Jason said. “We like to vacation during the off-season when there aren’t as many people,” Jessica added. “We love to be outdoors so we do most of our stuff at home anyway. It will be cool to have that big area for Ryker to run around in.”

The City is in the process of installing an online campground reservation software system for the park. While walk-in campers will still be accepted, the majority of the reservations will be made online beginning this camping season. Park Director Dea said the goal is to have that system operational by the first of February.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@syndicatepub.com or call 308.537.9498