Carlson’s Family Legacy Builder Story

Steve and Luana Carlson

I first heard of Camp Arcadia when Steve was teaching at Concordia Teacher’s College in River Forest in the mid 1970’s.  Dean Richard Korthals and his wife Lynn left Concordia every June to spend the summer at Camp RKD on the shores of Lake Michigan.  It sounded idyllic to me.  Growing up in Michigan, Steve had heard of Camp Arcadia, but never been there.  In the late 70’s we moved to Lansing, MI.  Steve’s parents lived in St. Joseph, within walking distance of the Lake Michigan beach.  Our children loved to visit them and, of course, go to the beach whenever possible!    

I had grown up in northern Indiana regularly attending Camp Lutherhaven in the summer.  We tried several Lutheran children’s camps for our girls – both Camp Concordia (Gowan, MI) and Camp Lutherhaven (Albion, IN) for week long stays with varied success.  Steve and I were intrigued by Camp Arcadia’s family week program, but always felt it was financially out of our reach.  Then in Dec.1989 Rev. David Maier became our church’s new pastor (Our Savior Lutheran in Lansing, MI).  The next summer he was Dean for camp’s Labor Day weekend retreat.  We decided this was a heaven-sent opportunity to get to know our new pastor better and see just what Camp Arcadia was like.  What an awesome weekend that was – we all “fell in love” with camp!  Suddenly a week at camp became high priority and we began attending family weeks the following summer, immersing ourselves in the atmosphere, the activities, fellowship, the beach, and the feeling of being surrounded by God’s love and fellow campers.  All three of our children loved being at camp so much they served on summer staffs during college.  Then they introduced their prospective spouses to camp.  Our second daughter Andrea and finance Joe Meiser even decided to share camp with family and friends for a special weekend when they celebrated their October 2005 wedding at Arcadia.

Drinking a malt at Arcadia


During those summer family weeks in the 1990’s, we became aware of the Bill and Ida Meyer family (fellow church members from Our Savior).  They attended camp with their children and grandchildren.  Steve and I were very impressed with this family’s generational sharing of a Christian vacation experience.  We decided this was something we hoped would be possible for our family in the future. God has certainly blessed us in achieving that goal!


Our six grandchildren (currently ages 3 to 9) love to come to Camp Arcadia and look forward to “their next week at camp” as soon as they return home.  In fact, they have been known to even “play” being at Camp Arcadia!  The kids all have favorite activities, but the top ones are the beach and the trading post for treats!!  The craft shop, hikes, searching for Petoskey stones and the archery range are close behind.  Naturally, not everyone can come every year due to life’s complications.  Those that are unable to come are greatly missed. It is fantastic to have a family vacation without any of the worries of meal preparation, clean-up, activity planning, etc. 


Each time we arrive at camp I feel we are again at our “home away from home”.  To me the physical setting of camp is the closest I can get to heaven on earth and I feel we are truly are in God’s presence.  The staff is so welcoming, the sun (or rain), the woods, the beach, the waves, the beauty of the sunsets, the majesty and fury of a summer storm all contribute to help put our busy lives into perspective.  We are continually reminded of the vastness of the universe He created for us to enjoy and what a tiny part we each individually really are.  Every year we are strengthened in our faith, restored and renewed by time spent at Camp Arcadia with God and family.  


Carlson Family 2014

When we recently updated our will, we especially wanted to include Camp Arcadia as a beneficiary.  We have found camp to be such a blessing to our family it made sense to provide financial funds to help ensure camp can continue to bless future families.  Life is unpredictable.  Since we have no idea how long we will be blessed to use our financial resources here on earth, we decided the best distribution of our final assets was to bequeath a percentage of our estate to camp’s future needs.



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