Some years come and go, but others beg to stand out and demand to be noticed. 2019 was such a year. I will forever remember 2019 and for years to come I will be telling stories of how God used his servants to make sure Camp Arcadia not only survived but thrived.
I will tell how the Camp Arcadia family came together, as it has throughout our almost 100 years, to save Camp. I will tell how grateful we all were for spending over $1 million to protect our buildings and grounds from rising lake levels. I will tell of the generous supporters who funded the largest capital campaign in our history, with almost $3.7 million for the Spirit of Arcadia campaign.
I will tell of how the lake levels continued to rise and peaked in October as violent storms ravaged shorelines up and down the coast. I will tell of daily and sometimes even hourly meetings with our caretaker, Franco, to problem-solve our shoreline issues. I will tell of the October 16th storm that changed our plans as it changed our shoreline with 50 mph winds and 12 – 15 foot waves. I will tell how we were forced to close off the small pocket beach in front of the Inn and put in more rock along the boardwalk and in Sunset Beach. I will tell of being so grateful we were dealing with this instead of emergency efforts to save our buildings.
I will tell of how I was forced to my knees in prayer in 2019 and how I learned to more fully rely on God to provide for me and Camp Arcadia.
I will tell of how two young caretakers, Franco Marano and Joe Frederick, managed the largest projects in Camp’s history. I will tell how calmly they responded to the challenges and how persistent and creative they were in finding the right solution for Camp Arcadia. I will tell of tense contractor meetings and of contractors working late into the evening as the sun sank below the horizon in early June in order to get the project completed on time. I will tell of the last construction equipment leaving Camp just hours before the first guests arrived.
I will tell of wonderful Inn additions to our kitchen and shanty, as well as new first-floor Inn rooms with universally accessible private bathrooms that allowed families to come to Camp that previously could not have.
I will tell of the hours upon hours of guests relaxing and enjoying God’s creation as they sat on our new patio and boardwalk.
I will tell stories of our kitchen from 2019. I will tell of dismissing a chef just days into the season with no real plan for how to get through the next day of meals. I will tell of our how our staff came together to get us through this crisis. Of how our courageous college-aged summer staff stepped up to the challenge and how adult volunteers and Jess (program director) and Leah (operations director) kept our meals flowing. And of how the Golf & The Gospel guests were so gracious and understanding throughout the whole week.
I will tell of how within a week of the departure of the outgoing chef, we had a new chef. I will tell of how Taryn Woell, having just graduated from college, quit her job in Chicago, to come and serve at Camp Arcadia. How with no time to prepare, she stepped in and continued Camp’s tradition of healthy and delicious meals. I will tell of how God was able to work through Taryn and her staff and give them the strength, patience and courage they needed this past season.
I will tell of how Jess McCallum, while training her twelve program staff for the summer, and after helping run the kitchen during our first week of the season, then served as our Camp health officer during half of the Alpha teen retreat. I will tell how our program staff, through her leadership, delivered an amazing two weeks of teen retreat programming for over 250 teens.
I will tell of how Rachel Catanese, as our office manager and senior staff member, kept us together as a team. I will tell how she provided stability and calmness when things got chaotic and gave helpful feedback when we were problem-solving.
I will tell of how God worked through our management team when it mattered most. In crises they kept their cool and worked together to solve the problems that needed to be solved and kept focused on our mission. At every turn I felt supported by this team of professionals who care deeply for each other and carrying out Camp’s ministry.
I will tell of a full season of guests, registrations surpassing our goals, and the success of a new men’s retreat. I will tell of sharing the Arcadia experience with over 3,000 people this past season.
I will tell of the flood of 2019, where a torrential downpour brought flash flooding to our Inn and Wigwam basements, and how our summer and management staff responded with quick thinking and fast action to limit the damage.
I will tell how Ryan McKenna and his archives staff and volunteers organized a wonderful 50th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Lutheran Camp Association and brought our history alive in a new archives exhibit.
I will tell of how the LCA board met numerous times this summer and fall to address the various challenges at Camp. I will tell how they were thoughtful and supportive, never taking their eyes off of Camp’s mission. I will tell how they celebrated my twenty years as Camp’s director at the LCA annual meeting in November. I will tell of the love and support I felt from them and the entire Camp family.
Finally, I will tell of how I was forced to my knees in prayer in 2019 and how I learned to more fully rely on God to provide for me and Camp Arcadia. I will tell of how God continued to make Camp Arcadia a place of renewal of spirit, mind and body for so many people who so badly need a place to be embraced by a community of believers and to remember that God loves them. I will tell of how in 2019, I was reminded of the long and storied history of Camp’s ministry and that through the ups and downs God has preserved this place. I will tell of God’s grace shown to me over and over again by the people I served with and by those I helped serve.
I can’t wait for God has in store for Camp Arcadia in 2020 and I look forward to telling you all about it.