ARCADIA — The Lutheran family resort Camp Arcadia turned 90 this year.
To celebrate both the camp's big birthday and the lives of longtime members Fred and Mildred Kuhlman, the resort built Chapel on the Beach to hold services and events on the shores of Lake Michigan.
"The idea was that we have the opportunity for families to worship along the lakeside," said Camp Arcadia Executive Director Chip May. "We wanted to have a better facility, create a separate space to use for this and take advantage of the location where we are at."
The lakeside outdoor amphitheater seats 300 and features a cross created by Camp Arcadia caretaker John Jaff. The space won't just be used for worship; it also has been the site of several weddings and is suitable for campfires and concerts.
"We've had a wedding here and a bunch of different worship services," May said. "There have been different family weeks and anniversary services there. We've not had a concert there yet, but it has a sweet sound system."
Dedicated at the end of July, the amphitheater also opens a new door for Camp Arcadia and the non-camp members in the area.
"This is new for us, that we can welcome the community for certain events," May said. "We don't have a big master plan. It's not an afterthought, more of an additional bonus to having the structure there."
Chapel on the Beach garnered favorable reviews from campers and the surviving family members of the Kuhlmans, in whose memory the structure is dedicated.
"The whole (Kuhlman) family are members of the camp and use the camp throughout the summer," he said. "They are very happy with it."
The community has reaped the benefits, too.
"Camp Arcadia is a wonderful, unique place that has been very generous in giving back to the Arcadia community," said Brad Hopwood, Arcadia resident and chair of the Arcadia Township Planning Commission.
While the amphitheater has yet to be used to its full potential, it's already fulfilled its main purpose of benefitting the families of Camp Arcadia as they praise God.
"What's been most rewarding is to see all the families that come to camp to worship together as we look over Lake Michigan and sort of enjoy God's creations," May said. "That's the number one reason why we have it."