In January of 2000 a trusted friend for many years called us with a unique vacation opportunity. It was 5 degrees below zero, a foot of snow on the ground, and four months before our youngest was to be born. He described a Christian family camp on the shores of northern Lake Michigan that had been the setting of their best ever extended family vacation the previous year. He was extending an invitation to join them there for a week the coming summer. As wonderful as it sounded, I had more than a few concerns about a 10 week old, 2 & 4 year old all “sleeping” in the same room with us. I think the last time I had slept through the night was in early 1995.
My nautically minded husband said, “It’s on Lake Michigan.” I said, “We have to all sleep in the same room.” My husband said, “It’s on Lake Michigan.” I said, “The bathroom is down the hall.” My husband said the Lake Michigan thing again and I mumbled something about time share seminars. In the end, I caved. I really like Lake Michigan too.
Not soon after checking into the Inn, any anxieties I had about Camp Arcadia were quickly and forever laid to rest. All the fresh air, sand, water, and play was inducing an anesthetic like state of unconsciousness for extended lengths of time, especially at night. The kids were sleeping great too! The entire dining room experience was one of laughter, service, fantastic food, fellowship, and tradition. Giving thanks to God and the expression of joy from one end of the dining room to the other was a true reflection of Christian living. Chef Harvey’s ability to produce one delicious meal after another and attention to detail did not go unnoticed either. With these basic necessities of life so completely taken care of by the staff and setting we were free to enjoy all that Camp Arcadia offered. It was a bit like being made to lie down in green pastures only this was sand, water, and woodlands. We ended the week rested, refreshed and renewed.
Thanks to our friend’s invitation, we began a long term relationship with Camp Arcadia that continues to this day. Many of our children’s earliest vacation memories are of Camp Arcadia. The legendary influences of Karl, Kyle, and Aaron in the youth program caused our kids to anticipate their week at Camp Arcadia as much, if not more, than Christmas. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, new staff members joined the veteran crew and Captain Pepper passed the baton to King Neptune, our kids graduated from bozo buckets (where everyone is a winner) to Capture the Flag to now, Gaga Ball.
Since that first family camp adventure, we have added teen weeks and women retreats to our calendar. For me, listening to 180 women sing “You are Holy” is worth the trip alone. It is soul restoring. Sharing family camp, teen weeks and retreats with other friends and family has added to the untold blessings Camp Arcadia has brought into our lives. We have biked the roads, cruised the waters, climbed the dunes, and watched our kids grow up year after year at camp. We have celebrated birthdays (thank you, Ian, for your dining room rendition of “When You Are Young at Heart”), anniversaries (Roger, we forgive you for eating our pie), and assorted milestones. Our visible Camp Arcadia souvenirs include tournament ribbons, craft shop projects, t-shirts, hats, and packed photo books. These we appreciate and keep in special places. Our invisible Camp Arcadia “souvenirs” include strengthened family relationships, new and deeper friendships, family vacation traditions, seeing the heavens declare the glory of God through nature, being taught truths about God from Scripture, and collectively singing His praises. These we treasure and store up in our hearts where God does His deepest and most lasting work.
Martha Kleindienst for the Kleindienst Family