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.
Adjacent to the north of Camp there is a group of cottages called the Arcadia Cottage Colony Association. Over the years Camp Arcadia has sold lots to devoted Arcadians and to date there are over 50 privately owned homes in the colony. Cottagers, as they are known, passionately support Camp Arcadia’s ministry through attendance at retreats and through their time and talents. If it were not for the support of the cottagers, Camp Arcadia would not be the thriving ministry it is today.
Camp Arcadia continues to be a unique mix of tradition and change. Members of the LCA, now just over 1,000 families, have a strong love for the Camp’s rich heritage (which includes programming, architecture, music, and more) along with a dynamic vision for its future.
For further information on the history of Camp Arcadia, see: 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.