An Arcadia Welcome

This is a reflection by Gretchen Jameson on her family’s welcome into the Arcadia family.

IMG_5648 (2)As lifelong Lutherans, and church career professionals in the St. Louis area, of course our family knew about Camp Arcadia. Often, it seemed everyone in our network had ties to the sleepy stretch of sandy shoreline in the far reaches of northern Michigan, but until the summer of 2014, we had never experienced it firsthand.

The unexpected invitation to join longtime family camp Dean, Rev. Dr. John Nunes as a lecturer came as our family also wrestled with our decision to God’s Call to serve in the Milwaukee area. Leaving St. Louis meant leaving grandparents, our dearest friends, and ministry that we cherished, but GO was the clear Call. Little did we know the unexpected blessing that God held for us at Arcadia.

And so, in the midst of our young family’s most chaotic summer, just one short month after waving goodbye to the familiar and getting to know the unknown in Wisconsin, we rambled along M22 and arrived (at last) at the ‘Camp we all love best.’

It is a remarkable achievement for a ministry to work out its mission with constancy and focus, especially almost 100 years into its existence. That mission-heart is perhaps the most incredible blessing of Camp Arcadia. Within the first few hours of our arrival, our rumpled and frayed family found ourselves wrapped in peace and wholeness that was extended not through facilities, or programs, or songs, or amenities, or outstanding cuisine (though Arcadia boasts all of these in abundance), but through the genuine invitation we received from the staff and other campers to come into Christ-centered relationship.

We were welcomed into the Camp Arcadia Family.

Nowhere more clearly was that relationship extended than by the young adult staff to our six year-old daughter, Sydney. She had come to camp worn out from the “newness” of her new life. Usually an outgoing kid, the first few weeks in Milwaukee had turned her inward. Arcadia brought Sydney back to herself. She immediately connected with the two counselors, Charlie and Aislin, who led her age group. Their love and care for Sydney, the extra time they gave, even when tired after putting in a long day, made an impact that we, as parents, will never forget. Our gratitude overflows to this day. When we returned in 2015, having Charlie and Aislin waiting at the Turn-Around led Sydney to shout, “We’re here! We’re home!”

We couldn’t agree more.

What our family has discovered is that the Spirit of Arcadia is as genuinely found by new families as by Arcadia’s legacy guests; quietude of spirit and soul is granted as freely to young as to old. And so it is that the Arcadia story, which finds its source in God’s Word lived out in Christ-rich community, becomes part of our family stories. What an unexpected blessing, indeed.

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