The Spirit of Arcadia – Dr. Frank W. Miller

October 27, 1981

Today is our last day in the cottage for 1981 and we will be going through the familiar routine of closing for the winter. It’s time to go. The cottage was built for warm weather use and the last few days have been quite cold. Max, down at the service station, says he can’t recall an earlier Fall. For the past week, Al Buckner has been showing the new caretaker the routine to be followed in boarding up the cottages.

It’s cold and hazy/clear this morning. It seems strange to hear the “summer sound” of the Frankfort foghorn when the ground is covered with frost. Up the beach, some workmen are preparing to enter the lake in order to rebuild an old breakwater. Brrr! They’ll be earning their money today!

The Camp seemed rather desolate yesterday. Without doubt, there is nothing so forlorn as empty, shuttered buildings on a cloudy, windy day. The Plaza itself is empty of furniture and the drifting sand is already beginning to pattern itself into miniature dunes. Only a few hardy Marigolds in front of the Wigwam brighten an otherwise drab scene. Hordes of leaves are skittering across the tennis courts as if to blot out forever the memories of volleyball games and square dances. But, of course, they can’t and they won’t. Images may dull, albums may fade. Yet, the changing season and passing years become part of the endless rhythm of eternity. By the Grace of God, Camp Arcadia has survived to celebrate its 60th Anniversary. The hopes, dreams and prayers of thousands of campers over six decades haunt the rooms and corridors and echo along the forest trails and beaches. There is a depth of feeling here and sense of coming home that is difficult to describe to an “outsider.”

The original campers of 1923 are few in number today. The young and vigorous people in the early photos are shown laughing in the sunshine of their youth. Now their time is past and they are gone, along with their bobbed hair, their middie blouses and their knickers. But their energy and spirit and hope for the future fills the corridors of time. Generations have felt it and passed it along. Styles may change, people may age and cultures may shift with alarming speed. But in this little corner of the world it is easier to sense the eternals. We feel the love of God in the friendship and love for those around us. We see it in the beauty and orderliness of the Universe before our eyes. We sense it as the endless chain of human continuity encompasses the third and fourth generations of Arcadia families.

Perhaps this tiny Camp has existed so many years and survived so many crises because we have found, within its boundaries, at least a portion of that for which we constantly search – peace of mind, goodness of heart, the meaning and direction of life. Perhaps, indeed, that is the real Spirit of Arcadia.

Frank W. Miller


This is a letter from Dr. Frank W. Miller – and an excerpt from “Camp Arcadia: The First Sixty Years,” available for purchase in the Trading Post and gifted to every new Lutheran Camp Association member.


5 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this letter. I understand completely how you were moved by this letter. It touched me deeply too. As I have grown older and just beginning my 70th decade on this earth, I appreciate those special moments I have at the Women’s retreats with my sisters-in-Christ and the sanctuary the Lord has blessed us with through Arcadia. May God continually bless this Heaven on earth and all who serve there. ❤️✝️

  2. Great letter!!! I have read it several times. Frank expresses emotions so well!! It’s poetry.

    Is Frank correct that the first campers came in 1923? I have always thought that there were campers in 1922.

    1. Hi Ken! While Camp was established in 1922, the first guests didn’t arrive until summer 1923! If you have “Camp Arcadia: The First Sixty Years,” you can read more about it on page 18. (Or you can purchase/borrow a copy while you’re at Camp sometime!)

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