As Mineral Lake shone green in the morning sun on Saturday, folks walked around the lakeside Lions Den Campground with coffee mugs in hand and grins on their faces.
One man approached camp manager Tina Moore to say he just had the best Lions Den Campground sleep of his life — he’s been staying there for 40 years.
Thanks to “hundreds of man hours,” according to Steven Mayer, vice president of the Lions Club, the campground received major upgrades over the last few months. Over a dozen volunteers joined in the process. Upgrades were made for both aesthetic and safety purposes, such as fixing up docks, cleaning trash out of the lake, adding new gravel and mulch to the ground and installing a sign near the entrance with information on the history of Mineral.
The volunteers are still going, too, with plans to add flower beds and other park-like features.
With the start of fishing season, campsites were teeming with happy families on Saturday. The campground will now remain open until the beginning of December.
For decades now, the campground, which borders the picturesque Mineral Lake, has been occupied by the same campers year-after-year rather than being open for reservations. Now, thanks to the Lions Club’s efforts, the Lions Den has an online reservation system where campers can choose their sites on a map. Sites start out at $35 per night with an occupancy of six people. Lakefront sites, sites with electricity and water, and RV/trailer spots cost more.
Mayer recommended getting a few campgrounds for a family reunion or similar event.
Before the upgrades, Moore said folks sold campgrounds for thousands of dollars even though the property was never theirs to sell.
In their efforts to fix up the space, Lions Club members saw some opposition from those folks, especially on social media.
“But, the objective is: Let’s make the town better. It’s a nonprofit. We can help the town even more. It’s all for the better of everybody. The businesses here, they profit,” Moore said.
The area will also now be able to host events for local children and those staying at the campground. Over the Easter weekend, they hosted an Easter egg hunt.
“It feels great. Can we do more? Absolutely, and we're trying and it's going to continue to build up, but the amount of time and work that's gone into this — It’s been ‘stress, stress, push, push,’” Mayer said. “This is what needs to happen for this town, for this campground and for our club. It really is. All this money gets donated. There’s a donors board. We don’t get paid for doing this; it all goes out into the community. We’ve bought fire trucks. We put roofs on the fire station. We put sidewalks in here. We donate to the food bank. That’s what this goes for.”