I had the luck to run into Robert & Karleen Ferguson, the owners of Stay Active Ellijay, during one of their events at the Bear Creek Trail Campground on the Chattahoochee NF over Easter weekend, where a group of members was having a campout. They were gracious enough to chat with me about their small service-based business in northern Georgia. They also make some of the best campground-cooked food I’ve ever had!
What is the primary function of this business? Stay Active Ellijay: North Georgia’s Outdoor Social Club plans, organizes, and guides outdoor recreation events primarily in the area around Gilmer County, but throughout northern Georgia.
How much of your revenue do you estimate to be related to public lands? 100%
What are the primary activities your clients or customers do on public lands? Hiking, camping, kayaking, biking, horseback riding, and sometimes just meandering!
Why Ellijay? Karleen: I grew up in Atlanta. We love the North Georgia mountains and knew we wanted to retire here. Robert: We were doing [outdoors] stuff on our own, and she asked, “why don’t we share this with others?” There are people from here who haven’t been to Springer Mountain, Bear Creek, Carter Lake, so Stay Active came to be to help introduce people to these places. Karleen: Also, getting outside and being in nature is so relaxing; it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle. My family has one of the largest catering and event planning companies in Atlanta, so I know how to organize events. Our economy is heavily-based on tourism, and I was asked to be the Events and Tourism Coordinator [for Ellijay]. I’m very passionate about Ellijay, and I really want to help. We were taking our friends out and realized we could get more people out. Robert: It gets us out too, and it builds relationships. We’ve met people from all over the place we would never have met otherwise.
What are some of your favorite spots on public lands nearby? Bear Creek, Springer Mountain, and Carter’s Lake