When Lake Arrowhead Campground in Montello first opened for business in 1971, it consisted of around a dozen campsites and a small camp store.
The original owners and developers of Lake Arrowhead Campground, Bea and Arnold Malsack, moved to the Montello area in the 1960s with the desire to start a campground business.
What started as a plot of farmland and forest in the 1960s has grown into a multiple-campsite operation and three-generational family business.
“We’re a family business, in the business of helping families have fun and make memories outside together and we really love that we’re able to offer that to people at our campground,” said Emily Truell, one of Arrowhead’s current owners and granddaughter of the Malsacks.
This year is the 50th year of Lake Arrowhead Campground and it was celebrated with a 50th-anniversary weekend celebration back in June.
“For that weekend, we had a ’70s-themed parade, we had a live band that played ’70s music and we did a ’70s dress-up contest,” Truell said.
Campground staff also celebrated the business’s history with a historical presentation that weekend with pictures over the 50 years from the Malsack family and customers.
“We have a lot of third- and even fourth-generation customers who sent us photos from over the years and we just talked about the years and the campers,” Truell said.
When Bea and Arnold Malsack first began developing the campground in the 1960s, they built some homes and a few dozen campsites, Truell said.
The campground got its Lake Arrowhead name from the pond on the campground and the many arrowheads found on the property during the original development.
By the time the campground opened, it was staffed by just four people: Arnold, Bea, their son Phil and Phil’s fiancée, Linda.
In 1973, Phil and Linda got married on the campground property and a couple of years later, in 1975, they purchased Lake Arrowhead Campground from Arnold and Bea.
“Since then, they have been working at expanding and growing the business,” Truell said.
While Phil was running the campground, he also served for Marquette County Sheriff’s Department for 22 years as the chief deputy and sheriff, Truell said.
Phil and Linda lived in a small house attached to Lake Arrowhead’s camp store until 1989, when they built a home adjacent to the campground to fit their growing family, said the campground’s website.
In 1998, the Malsack family expanded Lake Arrowhead Campground by purchasing the nearby Puckaway Shore Campground.
The family renovated the Puckaway Shore Campground, and reopened it as Lakeside Campground in 1999 as an all-seasonal park and campsite.
The owners further expanded their campground in 2016, when they bought another neighboring campground, called “Lighthouse RV Park.”
“At that point, we went from about 95 sites to 120 sites,” Truell said.
Then, in 2019, the family purchased more property west of Lake Arrowhead, adding more than 300 feet of frontage on Lake Puckaway to their campground.
“Currently, the Lake Arrowhead and Lakeside campground operation has grown to more than 71 staff members and more than 360 sites,” Lake Arrowhead Campground’s website said.
Phil and his three children — Adam Malsack, Jessica Malsack and Emily — now own and operate Lake Arrowhead Campground.
“Phil is still around, but is mostly retired,” Truell said. “He likes to do more of an advisory position at this point.”
Truell said she and her siblings’ children even help to run the business now.
“We make lots of jokes about how the fourth generation is already in training because the eldest of the fourth generation is eight and she likes to be a part of things,” she said.
Lake Arrowhead Campground offers a variety of camping experiences including overnight sites for tents, trailers and motorhomes, cabin rentals, seasonal stays and waterfront camping.
Beyond the campsites, Lake Arrowhead’s campgrounds offer an array of amenities for all ages to have fun and enjoy their stay at the campground.
“We have a variety of amenities; we have pools, jumping pillows, playgrounds, basketball courts, volleyball courts, fishing ponds,” she said. “We also have our own boat launch and swimming access.”
Lake Arrowhead Campground also has family friendly events and activities each weekend from spring to fall.
Each weekend, the campground has a theme and plans events around them. In September and October, the campground has a few different Halloween-themed weekends with trick-or-treating, costume parties and pumpkin patches.
With events every weekend and an array of camping amenities, campers who stay at Lake Arrowhead are sure to find something fun to do during their stay.