By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN “It’s been our life for seven years, but the decision feels right,” said Lois Nedegaard, who has managed Codger’s Cove RV resort with her husband, Mick, since 2005.
“We both decided, at the age of 73, we should take advantage of our reasonably good health, and embark on a new chapter in our life,” Mick said.
The couple will be spending their winters in Arizona, and summers in Royalton.
As the new adventure stretches out before them, Mick and Lois reflect on the adventure they are completing.
“This has been a real roller-coaster ride,” Mick said.
Mick’s brother, Bruce, offered to purchase the campground if the Nedegaards would manage it.
“We said ‘sure,’ even though we knew nothing about managing a campground,” Mick said.
The adventure began with mud, rocks, trees, gravel roads, and plenty of work to be done, Mick noted.
“But with an ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality, it came to fruition,” he said.
The entire campground was leveled, and a new resort was built from the ground up.
“It was fun seeing the campground come together,” Lois said. “It took that whole first year.”
During the first big holiday weekend after opening Memorial Day 2006 there were only nine weekend campers. By the end of the weekend, the Nedegaards had rented six seasonal campsites to them.
“That really tickled me that weekend,” Mick said, proudly.
That first year, everything was new to Mick and Lois, who grew into their role as managers as the campground membership grew.
By Oct. 1, 2006, when all the seasonal campers from that first year left, Lois remembers thinking, “There goes everyone I know in Howard Lake.”
However, she soon found out that she and Mick “totally enjoy having the campground all to ourselves in winter.”
Although they found the winters to be refreshing, the Nedegaards also have been “blessed with wonderful seasonal campers.”
“The campers have been so good to us all along,” Lois said, noting they are constantly inviting Mick and Lois to share their food, and including them in activities.
“There are so many good memories,” she added.
“It’s always hard losing campers,” Mick said, referring to three who passed away this year. “You get pretty attached to these people, you know.”
Lois has enjoyed watching the children of the seasonal campers as they have grown through the last seven years, noting how different they can be when coming back six months later.
“Kids are fun watching them try to figure out how much something costs, and if they have enough money that’s fun,” said Lois, who is in charge of the store.
One of the highlights for the Nedegaards was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at the resort in 2010.
They also had seasonal campers come caroling one Christmas. “We opened the door, and they started singing to us in tune!” Mick joked.
While many happy memories have been created, there are a few things the Nedegaards won’t miss. Lois noted she will not miss the 24/7 commitment for five to six months out of the year.
“We chose this, but didn’t understand how difficult it is,” Lois said of the time commitment of being resort managers.
Mick won’t miss being responsible for the campers during bad weather, even though the Howard Lake Fire Department was always good about alerting him.
“There were only two trees that went down out here, in the same year, on the same camper,” Mick noted (nobody was hurt).
In their retirement, the Nedegaards look forward to having weekends off in the summer. “It’s been a long time since we had a weekend off,” Mick noted.
Lois is also looking forward to doing “a whole lot of nothing,” she said.
Taking over the management operations of the campground will be Rod and Renee Ellison, who have been seasonal campers at Codger’s Cove for six years and winter in Goodyear, AZ.
Many in Howard Lake will be familiar with them, as Renee is the daughter of Donna and Shelly Reddemann.