Steve and Linda Strauss, with the help of their children, set sail on a dream to build a pirate ship that would sail in the Eagle River chain of lakes during the summer months. The couple once ran a small resort on Duck Lake in Eagle River, and after recognizing a need for more family attractions in the area, they developed and pursued their vision.
Steve said, “With my background as an area carpenter for 15 years, in 2004 I decided to finally refurbish and customize a houseboat to build our ship.” Once it was built, they officially set sail on July 4th, 2004, and Eagle River Pirates was born.
“Being entrepreneurs and dreamers, we have developed a great appreciation for people that are passionate about their projects,” said Steve. After meeting Lolly Rose and hearing about Angel On My Shoulder, they experienced Lolly’s passion and wanted to be a part of it. “We spoke with Lolly and set up donated rides where the kids could have fun, join the adventure, and experience the beauty of our area lakes as they worked through the difficult times that brought them to camp in the first place.”
Steve said they always have fun with the Angel On My Shoulder crew. They do two events through the summer, one with younger campers, and one with Camp Teen Angel.
“When our younger campers arrive they are greeted by pirates and bravely board the pirate ship,” said Steve. “We set sail, and throughout our journey on the water, kids enjoy popcorn and lemonade (two true pirate delicacies).”
The kids each have blank white T-shirts and fabric markers. They decorate each other’s shirts, and get their shirts “tattooed” by Captain Steve, and signed by first-mate-Stevo (son Steve Strauss).
“The conversations and decorating of the tees throughout the cruise provide a nice bonding experience amongst the kids,” Steve said. “Also, they can document their memories on the lake with one-time-use cameras.” A similar experience awaits the Teen Angels, except they’re given a shore lunch and get to walk the plank!
“Our mission at Pirates Hideaway is to inspire a sense of imagination and play within the individuals that join us on our journey,” Steve said. “We feel honored that our services have the opportunity to inspire tremendously deserving children as they cope with changes that have such a personal impact on their lives.”
Steve, Steve-O and the Strauss family have been working with Angel On My Shoulder long enough that it’s hard to pinpoint just one standout experience among the many they’ve had. According to Steve, just getting to know the organization over the years has been heartwarming. He added, “Going from perceiving their mission, to truly understanding it, and really becoming a part of it has been beyond special and will always be memorable for us.”
When asked what he would say to anyone interested in getting involved, Steve said, “You will never regret it. By volunteering with Angel On My Shoulder you have the opportunity to share in a community where the founders, counselors, and volunteers all share the same positive passion and purpose. The privilege of working with the children is empowering, and you can truly make meaningful differences in their lives with your interactions and participation.”