The Case for the Beach Project

20160821_133020-300x168Camp Arcadia is a beach-centered camp. It is a major part of what we do at Camp, from a recreational and setting perspective. Could you imagine Arcadia without sand and sunsets? We all take seriously any plans to address our beach erosion situation. Our current beach system is in disrepair and the lake levels are up four feet since 2013. As the Camp’s leadership has looked at the beach we have considered many options before recommending the proposed shoreline stabilization plan. We decided on the proposed plan by using five criteria – building protection, beach access, address the safety hazard of our current structures (jetties, etc.), do no harm to our neighbors, and how likely the system could be permitted.


We are confident that the proposed rock revetment and pocket beach will protect our buildings and provide beach access even in high water periods.  This new stabilization system, according to our analysis, will not harm our neighbors and will be able to be permitted. Also, with the removal of the existing structures, our beach will be safer.


It should be noted that in 2005 Camp created a Beach Erosion Control Committee with the same goals as the current effort, except for the consideration of how likely the system could be permitted.  Here is language from their charge: “to research and develop “a long-range, effective beach erosion solution that protects Camp Arcadia’s buildings and provides a usable, safe shoreline, while respecting our neighboring shorelines.” In the peer review’s final recommendations they also add the following language to the charge: “This effort is to focus on two objectives: 1) Protect buildings; and 2) Preserve and enhance the beach for guest use (more sand, remove obstacles).” The current effort to find a shoreline stabilization solution is not a departure from past efforts but a continuation of the same effort with the same goals.


cad-pocket-beach-smIn our decision process we highly valued security and predictability. We wanted a beach stabilization system that we were confident would protect us from high water and storms. With the investment that Camp has put into its facilities, protecting them is vital. We also wanted a system that would allow us to have a beach that guests could access and use every summer, not just in low water periods. With a disappearing beach and a high dune in which to navigate to the small beach, fewer and fewer guests were able to use the beach. We want all guests to enjoy the beach, including our disabled and infirm guests.  The current proposal allows for that.


We all wish we could have a beach with no rocks, no jetties and endless sandy beaches in front of Camp, but we do not see this as a realistic view of the future. We are taking a proactive approach that sets the stage for building and program improvements for the coming years.


Donna Crittenden, Arcadia Cottage Colony Association Vice President, reflects on the proposed plan,

“I think we all agree that we would love to see a beautiful beach in front of camp, but due to current regulations other options are not legally or fiscally possible at this time.  While change is hard, doing nothing is not a good option.  After walking the property with the Smith Group consultants, I was impressed with their attention to our needs and concerns as well as their intent to complete the project as aesthetically pleasing as possible.  Our buildings will be safe, we will have a beach, and we will still have our lake and beautiful sunsets to enjoy.”


The beach in front of the Wigwam patio, Assembly and tennis courts was virtually non-existent and difficult to access even in low water periods. There is no beach creation system that we could find that could be permitted and protect our buildings. Plus, there is not enough space to put in pocket beach in these areas. In our research we could not find any structure this close to Lake Michigan that was not revetted by rocks or major seawalls.


beach1The area to the south of Inn observation deck has been the area where most guests swim and use kayaks and stand-up-paddle boards. It is tempting to remove the jetties and just let this area go natural, but a pocket beach offers a more predictable outcome – a beach that more people can use and protection for the Inn and Chapel.


We have hired a very qualified firm to design the project, and we have investigated and researched many other options. Smith Group JJR is a leader in coastal engineering on the Great Lakes and around the world. We are confident that this project meets our criteria and creates a foundation for Camp’s ministry to thrive.


Phil Jones, current LCA board member, and former city manager and public utility manager, comments on the proposed plan,


“I am grateful for the prayerful, methodical, and in-depth approach the staff, board, and key stakeholders have taken in pursuing options to stabilize Camp’s beach. As stewards of Camp, we have followed the best-practices available in engineering and infrastructure management. In partnership with one of the strongest shoreline engineering firms in the country, the group has fully vetted options like moving buildings and beach nourishment, has studied the lake’s wave patterns and local climate information, and now knows what is able to be permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. We are on the right track to implement a long-term, cost-effective solution to preserve Camp Arcadia for future generations.”


I hope you will prayerfully consider supporting the LCA board’s proposal.


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