Realization of longtime dream a ‘good fit’ for couple
Brett and Joey Ellingson realized a long-held dream in March, when they took became the new owners of the Silverline Resort on Pearrygin Lake.
“We always wanted to be campground owners from the day we met,” Joey Ellingson said.
In pursuit of their dream, several years ago the Ellingsons approached Dan and Kristi Brookshire, who owned the Silverline Resort from 2005 until early 2021. “It wasn’t for sale at the time,” Joey said, “but we expressed our interest and kept in touch with them. They were contemplating moving into retirement mode for a few years, and then last year it seemed like the right time. It was a good fit for all of us.”
The Ellingsons met in college in Bellingham, and later moved to Chehalis to work and raise their children, while Brett had a 29-year career as a teacher and principal in public education. “But we always wanted to get back to this area,” said Joey, who grew up in Chelan and said that she considers it the “hometown in my heart.”
Living the dream isn’t always easy, but the Ellingsons are taking on the challenges of their new life and livelihood in good spirits. “We closed on the sale on March 25, 2021. Dan and Kristi stayed on for a while to show us the ropes, and by early April we were ready to open for the season,” Joey said. “It all happened pretty quickly.”
While the Ellingsons kept the resort open after fire precautions led to the closure of Pearrygin Lake State Park and other outdoor recreation sites, they said quite a few customers canceled their reservations.
Help with transition
The Ellingsons credit two of their employees — a couple that has been living and working seasonally at the Silverline Resort for six years — with the smooth ownership transition. The couple is “helping us learn the reservations system, how to handle the watering schedule on the RV and tent sites, how to run the store, how to manage the waterfront and boat rentals,” Joey said. “And they cook the weekend all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the Wagon Wheel Kitchen.”
The Ellingsons’ college-aged children are also working at the resort, until school starts back up in the fall. In typical Methow fashion, the “kids” each have other jobs in the valley: the daughter works at Old Schoolhouse Brewery, and the son is employed by Pearrygin Lake State Park.
On a daily basis, Joey is running the office and Brett handles the grounds, doing the watering and mowing, fixing things, and completing other outside tasks. The campground was pretty full in July, but some availability remains later in August, and both September and October offer wider options for those interested in booking a camping trip on the shores of Pearrygin Lake, which presents an opportunity for locals to get to know the Ellingsons.
The Silverline Resort is one of those places that families return to year after year. “There are families that have been coming here for generations,” Joey said. “Adults who came here as children now return with their own children. Many families host annual reunions the same week each summer. They camp in the same sites that they’ve been camping in for years — it means a lot to them to have that tradition. Some of them tell us that the campground is their home away from home.”
No big changes
In keeping with this vibe of longevity and intransient, the Ellingsons “aren’t changing anything,” Joey said, for now at least. “For next year we may try to streamline and upgrade our reservations system, and maybe in the future we’ll look at getting more rental equipment or adding different lodging options, but for now everything is staying the same.”
The Silverline Resort operates seasonally (“from thaw-out in the spring to freeze-up in the fall,” Joey said), but the Ellingsons, who live on-site, plan to remain in the valley year-round. “We’re rooted here. We’re over-wintering. We hit the ground running when we bought the campground, but the winter will give us a chance to get out and explore this beautiful valley.”
The Ellingsons are active outdoorspeople, with a love of skiing, hiking, biking and recreating outside in general, something they’re looking forward to doing more of in the off-season, when things slow down at the campground. But they’re also eager to get more involved in the community. “We’ve met some people through the business,” Joey said, “but we are so excited to become a part of the community, to make connections, to help out where we can.”
Of living the dream of campground ownership, Joey says “There have been a few challenges along the way, but we’re both really enjoying it. We live in a beautiful place with an amazing view. The campground guests are really kind and interesting people. The community here has been welcoming to us. And every morning when we wake up we say ‘I can’t believe this is my life.’”