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Ceraland now available to public

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Ceraland Park is opening to the general public for the first time this spring to generate extra money for one of the region’s premier recreation facilities.

The park’s amenities had been limited to Cummins employees and associated companies, but a 2012 decision about how the park is funded prompted a change.

The decision to open the park to the public was made primarily to generate additional revenue, Ceraland General Manager Jim Kreutzjans said.

“We had to change our business model to survive,” he said.

CERA (Cummins Employees Recreation Association) was founded in 1961 to provide Cummins employees with family and individual recreational programs. Ceraland Park was purchased two years later and, until recently, was supported by the vending commissions from Cummins’ Southern Indiana manufacturing plants.

Located on rolling land southeast of Columbus, with an abundance of trees and a large lake, the facility became a popular retreat for employees.

Ceraland was exclusive to Cummins until 1987, when affiliate corporate partners were permitted to purchase memberships.

Additional recreation options have been added over the years. Ceraland now includes 348 acres and a wide range of activities.

Kreutzjans said there has been some resistance among Cummins employees, but when the economic reality of the situation was explained, most accepted the change.

“There was some pushback, and there still is; but once we get through the explanation, most people understand,” Kreutzjans said. “We recognize that the pride in Ceraland among Cummins employees is second to none that I have seen, and to let that go a little bit usually takes a long conversation.”

Passes replace memberships

Cummins employees still receive generous discounts, but annual memberships are available for everyone. The annual pass, which is $500 for non-employees, may include a spouse or recognized domestic partner and any legal dependents living in the household.

Beth Dawson, business/marketing manager for Ceraland, said memberships have been replaced with day passes or annual passes, much like a state park.

“The annual pass gets you unlimited use of the park, and it’s kind of all-inclusive. So purchasers can use the pool, the miniature golf and other facilities at no additional charge. The day pass gets you in the front gate,” Dawson said.

Annual pass holders also receive discounts on amenities not included in the cost of the membership, including campsites, cabins and shelter house rentals.

Daily admission is available for $2 per person; and most daytime activities, including admission to the aquatic center, are $5 per person.

“Anything and everything that we have is open to the public,” Dawson said. “Anyone can come in and rent a cabin. But if you are a pass holder, you get a better price. The same is true for our shelter rentals and all of our athletic facilities.”

Park features include the 11-acre lake, which is stocked with fish regularly, a campground with 324 sites and six cabins, an aquatic center, a miniature golf course and a driving range, a 30,000-square-foot sports and recreation center, an archery range and tennis courts.

Other recreation options include an amphitheater, rifle and trap and skeet ranges, a disc golf course, refreshment centers and several athletic fields and courts.

Facility upgrades

Ceraland has upgraded the facility throughout the years as recreation habits have changed and continues to make changes to accommodate the anticipated wider audience.

The go-kart facility is being upgraded this year, and the old miniature golf facility, built in 1967, has been replaced. The gun club facility was recently upgraded, and four new ball diamonds were added three years ago.

A new facility management software program allows employees to control and monitor park usage. It also provides a customer service function that allows users to make purchases online. Next year, the service will be available for activities such as reserving campsites.

In the meantime, visitors can call the park on the day of a visit and have a preferred campsite tagged by using a credit card.

The membership goal for Ceraland has traditionally been 30 percent of Cummins employees, and that remains the target number to meet or exceed for annual passes. There are target goals for other categories, including affiliates, the general public and senior citizens, and Kreutzjans is optimistic that those goals can be met.

“As long as we continue to provide the recreation that everybody wants, we hopefully will meet and exceed those numbers,” he said.

Dawson said one of the biggest challenges has been to get the word out that Ceraland is now open to the public.

One advantage to the change in the business model is that Ceraland now can be evaluated and rated as a public recreation area. The Good Sam Club, which rates campgrounds throughout the United States for its members, recently ranked Ceraland third in the state.

Ceraland is finalizing the event schedule for the season, which will activities such as outdoor concerts, karaoke and movies at dark throughout the summer and some new camping-themed weekends.

A complete list of facilities, activities and pricing is available on the Ceraland website.

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