Renewal of Spirit

The following is an excerpt from Days Filled With Sunshine: 100 Years of Camp Arcadia written by Dr. Stephanie Jass. To pre-order your copy, visit the Mementos section of our 100th Anniversary Website to place your order!


RKD provides abundant opportunities for guests to renew their spirits, both in a religious and psychological sense. There are worship services, devotions, and singing designed to rejuvenate our connection to God and fellowship activities to entertain, build community, and remind us that having fun not only lifts our spirits, but is an important part of a balanced life.

Worship was naturally a central part of the earliest RKD program. In addition to Sunday church services—held at Camp until 1934, then transferred to Trinity Lutheran—the schedule had Vespers services on Sunday and, starting in 1940, on Wednesday evenings. Weather permitting, they were held outside, first on the west side of the Assembly, then on the patio. Once the Chapel in the Woods was built in 1946, Vespers moved there, with occasional special services held at “the Blowout” (now called “Old Baldy” and a part of the C. S. Mott Nature Preserve). If the week had a musical emphasis, Vespers might take the form of an evensong at the end of the week. During Teen Weeks, Vespers are a spirited nightly event that include both singing and dancing! The 2000s brought some interesting changes to worship, including a new Chapel on the Beach, nightly Taizé services and, in place of mid-week Vespers, a family service ending the week on Friday night. It provides a fitting conclusion to the week as campers prepare to leave and return to their homes, refreshed and rededicated to God’s service.

In keeping with Lutheran tradition, music has always played an important part in the culture of RKD, and it is a vital part of the weekly worship experiences. In addition to entire weeks dedicated to Lutheran music heritage, campers have chances to sing every day. Kids sing praise songs in their Morning Program, performing their favorite every week at the Camper Talent Show. Adults often open the dean’s program with hymns, and there were years when guests could sing praise songs in the evenings in the Round Up. The singing of repetitive harmonic songs is an important component of the Taizé services, and those who connect to God through music find those services inspirational.

For those who connect to God through the natural world, Camp Arcadia serves as its own kind of church—a place where worship can take the form of a quiet walk through the woods, solitary reflection on the beach, or wondrous gazing at the stars—anywhere where Arcadians feel the presence of God and take a moment to honor, acknowledge, and praise the Creator of such a beautiful place.

But “spirit” also means one’s emotional and mental state, and Camp Arcadia has programs designed to refresh spirits by providing plenty of activities that are meant to be lighthearted or entertaining, thus encouraging guests to relax, let go, be silly, and enjoy fun for its own sake. Many of these programs—the campfire, the talent shows, and the square dance—also serve to build community and fellowship with others, which strengthens bonds between families, friends, AND Camp Arcadia.

[The] absence of distraction is a natural refresher, and one of the main reasons folks return from an Arcadia week feeling renewed.

At RKD guests can be completely present for an intensely personal conversation, can bond with extended family as they make a craft together, can create new friendships as they sit and enjoy ice cream at the Trading Post counter, can create a lasting memory over a funny turn of events during a sporting event, and can experience a strange and wonderful gratitude as they scan the patio and see so many familiar faces representing generations of shared history. RKD even allows campers to lose their watches or phones; the Camp bell rings to alert when the next event is going to happen. This absence of distraction is a natural refresher, and one of the main reasons folks return from an Arcadia week feeling renewed.

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