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Legion Campground expands, welcomes new managers

The American Legion Campground has seen some big changes this season.

Neil and Joyce Erickson signed on as managers as of May 1, and the 24 new seasonal sites were opened this spring, and Neil said all but two are already leased.

Ericksons moved from Cokato Lake Resort, which is 50 miles west of Minneapolis. They had lived at the resort for 11 years and managed it for the previous five.

"We heard the previous managers were retiring. On a whim, we decided to (move to Detroit Lakes)," Neil said.

So far, they haven't been able to enjoy Detroit Lakes like a tourist would because they are tied to the campground. But, they said, it's been great so far -- except for the road construction.

The best part has been meeting people, Joyce said, and Neil added, they liked the camping atmosphere.

"It's a great group of people here. They've been nice to us," he said.

As managers, they handle everything from getting people parked and settled in their spots to handling disputes between campers.

The Legion Campground is a family campground, steering clear of young partiers. People must be 21 to camp without supervision.

On weekends, the campground has security posted to help keep unwanted guests from the sites.

The campground hosts 148 campsites, with over 100 being seasonal sites. The reservable sites are booked through mid-August too.

Not only do the Ericksons see their campers on a regular basis, they also see members of the neighborhood. Joyce said kids love to come to the store for the 2-penny candy, and Neil said some people stop in for milk and other supplies rather than fighting the traffic at the grocery stores.

Once the season ends in October, Ericksons pack up and head for Arizona, where they work at the flea market in Mesa for the winter. The American Legion Campground then opens again May 1.

Beginning in January, Ericksons take reserves for the summer. Joyce said it's a fairness issue for all involved.

"It's not fair to people who don't know their vacation until the first of the year," she said.

The American Legion Campground opened in the 1920s after a resident donated the land to the city of Detroit Lakes for tourism. In 1946, the American Legion took over the campground and now leases the campground and Post Home from the city.

Money generated from the campground pays for the lease from the city, memorial plaques at funerals and the Legion's baseball program.