Campground Becomes Family Destination
A different style of camping has returned to Tama County, Iowa, according to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.
Nestled in the woods and hills between Tama and the Meskwaki Settlement lies the Outback Campground and Resort, a private business that boasts a swimming pool, miniature golf and many other amenities.
It’s those differences that owner Luke Squiers, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, hopes will draw families and others from around the state.
“A lot of people tell you Iowa’s so boring. There’s just nothing to do in Iowa and everyone wants to leave,” Squiers said. “I want to try to change that a little bit at least in this community.”
Beyond golf and pools, the campground also features an A-frame lodge, a convenience store and 40 campsites. More than half have electrical and water hook-ups. Outback also has several hiking trails.
Future plans include expanding to about 100 sites and adding several cabins. Squiers also bought an adjoining property with a pond that he wants to stock with fish.
Outback is Squiers’ second business venture. He is in the process of selling Squiers’ Logging, a timber business his parents started, so he can focus on the campground.
“I have not done a whole lot of camping myself,” Squiers said. “It’s a new adventure for me.”
The 40-acre property has a long history as a camping destination. It first opened as Bolens’ Arrowhead Campground in the 1960s. Several other owners operated the haven for campers over the years.
The property sat neglected for 14 years until Squiers decided to reopen the area in May at the urging of a friend, Rodney Perry of Cedar Falls.
“We were just kind of putting little bugs in his ear,” Perry said.
Squiers’ biggest obstacle starting out was restoring the main campground, which looked more like a jungle at that point. Old campers overgrown with trees dotted the property. Walking paths were unrecognizable, and the grass alone was tall enough to bale.
The pool, Squiers said, was another story.
“We had to evict a lot of frogs. That was their home for a long time.”
Then providence smiled on their efforts, Perry said. They managed to catch several breaks, such as finding the owners who originally installed the pool. With that discovery, Perry and Squiers found out what was needed to rehabilitate the pool.
“It was amazing, the more we talked about this, the path just opened up,” Perry said.
The business is generating plenty of interest. Nearly half the camping sites were filled during the last two weekends.
Perry noted the campground has a strong family appeal because it’s not far from Waterloo, Cedar Falls or Cedar Rapids. It also offers activities for younger children that many large public campgrounds may not offer.
Squiers said he intends to make the area a destination for more than just camping, too. He wants to convert a storage shed into a community building groups can rent for functions, like family reunions. He is also working on finishing touches on the lodge and wants to start up other regular activities, like an outdoor movie night.