Curt Strouse said he always kind of wanted to own a camper. Now he owns a campground, and a busy and successful one at that.
Strouse, 51, a 1984 graduate of Ballard High School and a native of Huxley, is the new owner of Twin Anchors Campground at Colo.
Being from Story County, Strouse said he knew both the Moores (Earl and Bonnie) and the Angells (John and Corky), all former owners of the property. So when he found out John and Corky were ready to move on at the same time he was ready to do something different in his life, it all came together.
“I’ve known John (Angell) since forever, since fifth grade,” Strouse said.
For much of his adult life, at least the past 25 years, Strouse had been in Wisconsin working in the car sales business, mostly in training and managing dealerships. Running a campground, while very different, utilizes his skillset.
“This is just managing and working with people,” he said. But it’s much more leisurely and a whole lot of fun, he’s found.
For starters, Strouse sits at a picnic table inside the campground’s recreation center, a building at the front of the property that also houses the campground store and snack bar, featuring homemade softserve ice cream. He slides back a few folders and a laptop to make room for one more to sit down as he visits.
Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Strouse is ready for another day of campground management, which started for him when the campground officially opened for this season’s permanent seasonal and weekend campers on April 21. March 1 was Strouse’s official ownership date.
“My days are filled with things like cleaning, trimming, keeping the place tidy,” he said. “It’s not glamorous by any means; it’s maintenance on the bathrooms, barbecue pits, doing firewood…” He said he’s happy to have one full-time worker with great knowledge of the campground. Brian Angell, the son of the former owners, is his right hand, he said. “He’s been a big part of the transition…good kid.”
What Strouse and his dog Webster — a black terrier mix that follows him around or goes off on his own, knowing now which campers have the best treats — love most are the people. “It’s a good, good group of people… a good mix of young and old,” he said.
Strouse gets a kick out seeing kids have a great time. “It’s a great place for kids. The beach, the water slide and hanging out and meeting people,” he chuckles a bit about the teens and the possibility of first loves being formed at the campground. “There’s probably a lot of lasting memories made here.”
For adults too. “It’s a good place for camaraderie and people to gather,” he said. “There’s always good food and good spirits here,” and he admits his own grocery bill has gone down a bit this summer, as he gets invited to a lot of cookouts.
Strouse hasn’t made many changes at the campground, but said he’d like to do some facility upgrades in the future. For now, no big fixes are needed. “It wasn’t broke,” he said. “I’m just kind of continuing everything, keeping things going.”
During this first year of ownership, Strouse said, “what I’m doing is getting a grasp of it, and next year, I’ll probably put my stamp on it. I’m open to suggestions from the campers, and they’re all giving me plenty,” he jests. But bottom line, “this was a good business to come into.”
He’s also glad to be back in the Midwest. “You can’t beat the Midwest for people, hard working, good values. And some of my family is still around here,” he said.
Some may remember Strouse’s dad, Rich, was a high school football coach at Ballard; the Ballard football field is named after his father. His dad is now deceased, but his mom, Sue, still lives in Huxley. He has a brother Phil in Polk City, another brother Marty in Clive, and a sister, Ann, in Ogden. His twin sister, Chris, is a little further away, but not too far. She’s in the Kansas City area.
As for his own children, Strouse has two who are grown — a son, living in California; and a daughter, living in Florida. “When I want a warm weather destination this winter,” he said, “I’ve got both coasts covered.”
Strouse said he hopes to be at the campground for the long term. He likes that even with 150 permanent campers and another 100 or so campers who come in for weekends, it’s a place with very little drama, and a place with lots of planned activities, especially on the weekends.
He looks forward to the big fireworks show, sponsored by the Twin Anchors Golf Course. He’s also excited about the upcoming sweetcorn feed and other great weekend activities that are scheduled.
If people are interested in coming to Twin Anchors, Strouse encourages everyone to check with them to see what’s available, either now or for the future.
“Come see us,” he said. “I want this to continue to be a home away from home, a place to meet people and a place to make memories.”