Lancaster County-based contractor James Townsley, along with his father and brothers, bought the former Jonestown AOK earlier this year and have plans to improve the property heading into next season.

The campground, at 145 Old Route 22 in Swatara Township, was purchased for $2.3 million in October, according to Lebanon County property records.

The purchase by owner-operator Townsley stands in contrast to the nationwide trend of private equity-driven consolidation in campgrounds, such as the sale last year of the Jonestown KOA to a private equity holding company for a little over $3.5 million.

Read More: Jonestown campground purchased by private equity firm Cedarline Outdoor

Townsley told LebTown that his family had originally invested in mobile home parks in the past through syndicated deals before getting the itch to be operators themselves.

First, his dad and older brother owned (and recently sold) a mobile home park in Tennessee, and then the family really got started as campground operators with the acquisition of Deer Run Camp Resort in Carlisle, a site that features a dog park, fishing pond, ball courts, pools, a playground, disc golf, and more.

Townsley said he hopes to turn Cozy Corner – the facility was renamed shortly after purchase – into a resort as well. He plans to improve an existing frisbee golf area at the campground and replace the pool liner during the off season, and Townsley himself is managing the operation while he gets it ready for the first season under his family’s operation.

Townsley, along with father James Townsley Sr. and brothers John Scott and George Scott, will be very busy over the next few months before the season starts opening up around April.

“All of us offset the responsibilities here,” said Townsley, who noted that some customers had already praised the cleanup work done so far.

He said that the Jonestown site was definitely a different campground than Deer Run, with more challenges, but he hopes to “flip the script on the way things have been run.” His main goal right now is cleanup and getting the campground to where it’s a nice place to come and stay. He has also been working to get the office running smoothly.

Of running a campground, Townsley said he likes the chance to be a host at a larger scale.

“I like people, I like meeting new people,” said Townsley. “I like face-to-face with folks.”

As a campground operator, Townsley comes across people from all over the country.

He also takes part in the annual PA Camping Association conference. Townsley said that campgrounds aren’t actually in competition with each other.

“We’re all in this together,” said Townsley. “When we get full, we recommend another campground.”

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Davis Shaver is the publisher of LebTown. He grew up in Lebanon and currently lives outside of Hershey, PA.


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