The Early Days
Since 1922, Camp Arcadia has served families and individuals, offering unique “vacations with God” along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Inspired by a Ludington-based Methodist Episcopal Camp, “Epworth Heights”, Camp Arcadia came into being through a generous gift of land from the Henry Starke family, the town of Arcadia’s lumber baron and a dedicated Lutheran.
Inaugurated by the Walther League (the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s national youth organization) as a “young persons training camp,” Arcadia quickly broadened its embrace to people of all ages. Its three original buildings (the Assembly, Inn, and Wigwam) were constructed by local builder Leo Tondu and his sons. The buildings remain today, a testimony to Leo’s talent and the sturdy old-growth wood harvested from the ground which they inhabit.
From the summer of ’23 until his death in the fall of 1963, William “Chief” Weiherman, along with his wife Hildegard “Mom,” ran the Camp. Even through the Depression and War years, Arcadia offered a summer vacation schedule for guests.
Camp continued to operate under the auspices of the Walther League until 1968, at which time the League agreed to sell all 110 acres to a group of campers . This group of men and women formed the Lutheran Camp Association (LCA) which bought the Camp and has run it since 1969. Today, the Lutheran Camp Association (LCA) is a group of over 1,000 families, women and men who own and operate Camp Arcadia.
The Arcadia Cottage Colony was created as Camp sold lots to devoted Arcadians over the years, and to date there are over 50 privately owned homes in the colony. In addition, Camp’s community includes a number families who own homes in town (“Town Cottagers”). Both of our cottager communities passionately support Camp Arcadia’s ministry through attendance at retreats and through their time and talents.
100 Years… and 100 More!
In 2022, Camp Arcadia celebrated its 100th Anniversary. Camp Arcadia continues to be a unique mix of tradition and change. Members of the LCA, now over 1,000 households, have a strong love for the Camp Arcadia experience and are invested in ensuring that Camp continues to thrive for the next 100+ years to come!
For further information on the history of Camp Arcadia, see: Days Filled with Sunshine: 100 Years of Camp Arcadia, by Stephanie J. Jass, Camp Arcadia: The First Sixty Years, by Dr. Frank W. Miller, J.B. Publications, Manistee, 1982 and The Hopes and Dreams of All: The International Walther League and Lutheran Youth in American Culture, 1983-1993, Dr. Jon F. Pahl, Wheat Ridge Ministries, Chicago, 1993.