5 Reasons We Need Camp Meetings Now More Than Ever

5 Reasons We Need Camp Meetings Now More Than Ever

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Each summer I do something odd by most American standards: I spend one week with my extended family, we sleep in a crowded cabin with no air conditioner, and we go to worship services three times per day—alongside of hundreds of others—in an open air structure with a sawdust floor. The songs we sing were written long before I was born and the sermons last much longer than fifteen to eighteen minutes.

Each summer I go to camp meeting.

Camp meetings are uniquely American institutions that were developed during the early years of the Second Great Awakening. At the time, they were a new method for evangelism and revival that sprang up all across the country. Camp meetings often provided a place for those who lived in unsettled areas to worship and gather as a community for a short period of time—typically during the late summer. They began with very temporary arrangements such as tents, wagons, and brush arbors to worship under. Over time, these gatherings established more permanent structures and began to draw people from all over the surrounding communities.

Francis Asbury once called camp meetings “a battle ax and weapon of war” that broke down walls of wickedness throughout America. He believed they were a great means of grace. And in 1811, he estimated that these spirit-filled gatherings brought together one-third of the total American population.

More than 200 years later, thousands of people continue to make the pilgrimage each summer to camp meetings that have withstood the test of time.

Here are five reasons why I think we still need them today:

1. They provide an opportunity for true Sabbath rest.

The first thing most people feel when they attend a camp meeting is that they have passed from busyness to tranquility in just a few small steps. Nestled away from billboards and rush hour traffic, part of the beauty of modern camp meetings is that most have literally been set apart from the world and inherited the simplicity of the times in which they were started.

You’ll rarely see a laptop, television, or gaming console. You’ll often see porch swings, laughter, and lounging. Many who attend take the week of camp meeting as vacation from work, and when no one else is worrying about being productive or efficient, you won’t feel the need to either.

The experience of camp meeting is difficult to describe, but Eugene Peterson’s description of Sabbath does a phenomenal job: “uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing.”

2. They aid in the slow work of cultivating true community.

Today, the average worker stays in their job less than five years. The average homeowner sells their home in less than ten years. Sure, in five to ten years, great relationships can be built. But like cast iron skillets, the best relationships are formed slowly over time.

This summer will mark my 26th camp meeting. I’ve shared the crying years of infancy, the awkward years of middle school, and the growing years of being a young adult with an intergenerational community that hasn’t gone anywhere. Each year in this community babies are celebrated, deaths are mourned, people with cancer are cared for, and wayward children who once attended are lifted up in prayer.

Although I sleep in a cabin at camp meeting each night that holds three generations of my family, generations of others have helped them raise me and shape who I am. And they’re not all from the same church. As they were in the beginning, camp meetings continue to be a place where Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and others truly come together for the gospel.

3. They are a foundation that helps with recalibration.

Questions like “who am I?,” “where am I headed?,” and “what’s the purpose of all of this?” aren’t anything new. Yet in a VUCA world—one that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous—these questions are more challenging than ever and it’s easy to lose one’s bearings. Camp meetings are the antithesis of VUCA. Many of them are now 100+ years old and they exude steadiness, embody regular life-shaping rituals, and offer simplicity.

The altar calls, Sabbath time, and community that surround camp meetings provide just the kinds of opportunities through which one can easily explore the deep questions of life and experience the Holy Spirit move in a powerful way. They also come with the advantage that you can count on them every year.

J. Ellsworth Kalas once preached, “As marvelous as grace is when it invades our life, grace needs many continuing opportunities to invade our lives if we are to go on marching.” Camp meetings provide the time and place for this abundant grace to invade.

4. They serve as a reminder that we don’t have to make faith up as we go.

As Christians we’ve been called “to contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints.” Yet as contemporary Americans, we often act as if we can make Christianity up as we go along.

Sitting under old brush arbors and tabernacles, walking with friends where others have walked for many years, sleeping in cabins that have been with families for generations, singing old gospel hymns, and listening to someone preach with the fervor of a second great awakening preacher each serve as a reminder that we’re part of something that started well before us. And the fact that camp meetings survive in our world today also serves as a testimony to the unstoppable nature of the gospel.

Countless institutions have closed down since the turn of the 20th century, but for some reason God has preserved camp meetings. I hope they don’t end anytime soon.

5. They form Christians in a deep way.

According to James Bryan Smith, spiritual formation is the process, empowered by the Holy Spirit, in which we adopt the narratives of Jesus as the narratives of our lives, adopt the practices of Jesus as the daily rhythms of our lives, and spend time with others doing the same.

Camp meetings are a place where these three things happen in an intentional way for one week each year. Every day preaching, teaching, and conversation take place which help replace false narratives adopted from the world with the true narratives about God that Jesus regularly taught. Throughout the week, countless opportunities arise to spend time alone in prayer, care for broken and hurting people within the community, and encourage others with love. Every moment is spent with other people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to these same tasks.

The fruit of this formation is evident at many camp meetings. Simply visit and ask around, “How has God used camp meeting to shape your life?”

Better yet, leave a comment below about how God has used a camp meeting to shape your life so that you can serve as a testimony to others that God isn’t finished using this unique institution just yet.


104 Responses

    1. I am a product of Camp Sychar, Mt Vernon Ohio. At the age of 2 my grandmother started bringing me. I was saved at 10 in the childrens tabernacle. Sought a deeper, more fully surrendered life st 14, called into ministry in my 30’s. God has used this camp in a huge way & grew me up into the believer i am today. Every thing you said is true. Sychar is growing because families desire that kind of family vacation…..that makes a fifference. Donna Lou Yaussy

      1. AMEN, Donna! From fellow Sycharite and spiritual product of Mom & Dad Shiltz, and also the ministry of children’s evangelists Eva Clausen and Celeste Richardson! I also love visiting other camp meetings: So far I’ve been privileged to visit Camp Sharon, in Sharon Center, Ohio; and Camp Sebring, in Sebring, Ohio. Is-n’t God Good?!

        1. Paul….I am enjoying Sharon Camp this week. I am one of the camp evangelists. I was converted here 53 years ago, July 4, 1963 under the influence of my dad, Dr. J. Harold Loman’s preaching.

  1. Love camp meeting or Family Camp as it is now called @ Whitehall Camp & Conference Center in Pa. I gave my life to the Lord there many years ago. Thanks for this article.

  2. I grew up going to, not one, but 3 campmeetings every summer…Victory Grove, Vermontville and Binghamton, all in New York State. They were Pilgrim Holiness and later merged with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, thus becoming the Wesleyan Church. Great times!!

    1. Actually the New York district of the Pilgrim Holiness Church never merged with the Wesleyan Church and they are still Pilgrim Holiness.

      1. Actually actually, at the time, (early 50s) about half of the NY PH district merged with the Wesleyan Methodists and became the Wesleyan Church. The other half decided to remain Pilgrims. I was there.

      2. The merger was in the early 50s and about half of the PH churches in NY merged with the Wesleyan Methodists and became the Wesleyan Church. The rest remained Pilgrims. I was there.

        1. The merger took place around 1968. We were the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist ( which still exist).

          1. Of a truth camp meeting has shaped my life in numerous ways and I have always long to join the any opportunity of God’s people gathering.

  3. I also grew up in camp meeting and look forward to it every year. My 20-something children also love camp meeting. chuntsman, Victory Grove, Adirondack Pilgrim Holiness Camp (used to be Vermontville), Richland Camp, and Binghamton Camp are all New York camps that are still going.
    One of my favorite parts is always the congregational singing. The Pilgrims can raise the roof! I also love getting to hear some of the best preaching and singing available.
    I also have wonderful memories of camp meetings in many other states. Lifelong friendships have been made at camp meeting.
    I got my feet down spritually in Camp Meeting, and continue to go for all the reasons you have mentiioned.

    1. I also loved the congregational singing at camp…it was much more meaningful than the modern music some use today…we call it 7-11 music, 7 words repeated 11 times! Nothing quite blesses you more than the old hymns of faith (Fanny Crosby etc.) I bet I even might know you!

    2. After looking at your website, I DO KNOW YOU…or know of you! My first boyfriend, met at Victory Grove, was a member of your church. We are still friends even after 55 years! Today I am a Certified Lay Minister and pastor a small, rural Methodist Church.

  4. We just finished camp meeting in Boyne City, Mi. No.MI. Holiness Camp meeting. Several different denominations participating. The 103rd annual meeting in the same campground. God blessed in so many ways. Evangelist, Eddie Phillips and Dan Hays, singer. I love camp meeting.

    1. We are Just starting camp meeting in West Chazy Holiness Campmeeting NY with Rev Eddie Phillips, hope you didn’t wear him out. Prayers would be appreciated for a great week of camp!

  5. If you’re a regular at a camp meeting, I’d love for you to reply with when/where/website so that we can help new people connect!

    1. Indian Springs Holiness Campmeeting Flovilla, Georgia!! This year July 14-24. There is a website: indianspringscampmeeting.org. This will be my 33 year….. It is almost unexplainable the impact of being consistently taught holiness for a few days each year over the course of a lifetime! It is clarification and confirmation of truth in ways that rarely occur elsewhere today even within the Christian community. It is service to God and family members and sacrifice of time and comfort, but an invaluable investment. My family has an extensive connection to Campmeeting as my mother and three siblings travelled all summer every summer from one camp to the next with their parents, J. Byron Crouse and his wife, Ailene, as they served as Song Leader and accompanist. He was known as Your Southern Gospel Singer.

      1. My father Rev. Harry E. Stanley, worked with Bro. Carouse, in meny camps and church revival meetings in the Wesley Methodist Church from New York to South Carolina Kentucky, Georgia, and the Florida camp in Lakeland Florida! I can remember the excitement of us preachers kids when we knew brother Byron Crouse was going to be the musician ! What great memories !! Tom Stanley

        1. It was my privilege to work with Byron Crouse at Mt. Olivet Camp near Hinton, WV in 1972. He and my dad, Dr. J. Harold Loman, were contemporaries. Great memory and great honor.

      2. I have a long heritage at Indian Springs on both sides of my family. My grandparents went for almost their entire lifetimes. My parents have been going since they were very young children. This will be my 56th year. I have two sons who have always loved campmeeting and my sister and her three girls do also. Our husbands do as well. Our families own at least 8 cottages there. It is a wonderful place to learn and grow…and also to reunite with family and friends.

        1. Just finished a week of Shingle roof, just up the road from Flovilla in McDonough, Ga. My fa,ily has been attending since the beginning in 1830. I just celebrated my 61st year there, attending in my mothers womb my first time. My maternal Aunt Marcella Mote has attended 92 consecutive camp meetings. It is a family tradition, and treasure.

          1. Christine, I met Mrs. Mote and her husband in the mid 1980s while visiting Shingleroof campmeeting! Such a lovely, refined, and kind person. She and Mr. Mote visited Holbrook Campground that same summer via my invitation. I was so happy to fellowship with them. Holbrook Campground is near Alpharetta and Canton, Ga. in Cherokee County. I think maybe 8 generations of some families still go to campmeeting each year. Such a blessing and traditional.

      3. Wow! Just found this article and your comment when I searched for information on granddaddy, Karen. Good insights on what camp meeting means to us. Love this article, Paul! Hope your camp meeting is still going strong.

    2. The amazing campmeeting I attend is called Smith Mills Camp located in Dartmouth, Ma. It takes place for ten days and the youth plan is seven days. This year it starts August 12 and ends the 21st and the youth plan starts the 15th. We are all so excited to see what God is going to do. This place has given me a family like no other and has helped me strengthen my faith. If you are in the area come and check it out! We are also on facebook.

    3. Love Camp Meeting, fact of the matter is, I met my wife there, June 10, 2003, Pleasant View Baptist Church Taylors, SC! Neither of us had ever been there ’til that week, but the LORD had us meet and we grew a lot while there over the years. Our home church, Pleasant View Baptist Church McQuady, KY, has a great Camp Meeting/Jubilee every year and I personally believe, the LORD has moved his anointing to that meeting, as was in the olden days in Taylors.

  6. they very well need but its shame lot districts have it anymore lot problem is pastors dont even support it im from illinois

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed this blog about camp meetings. Pleasant Grove Campmeeting, Mineral Springs, NC, (not far from Charlotte) opens the third Sunday of July each year for a week, closing on the fourth Sunday of July. More info our our FB group: Pleasant Grove Campmeeting, Mineral Springs, NC. Come experience camp meeting with us!

  8. i am now a seminary student because of my campmeeting experience. I was living in St. Louis, teaching, struggling. I never found a church while I was living there, so my faith was weakening. I was not walking close to the Lord, but I am so in love with campmeeting that I attended every summer like always. During that time I felt the Lord stirring in my heart. I prayed fervently that God would do a radical work in my life and that whatever changes needed to be made would happen. I prayed that God would, “make it blatantly obvious to me what I should do.” God answered my prayer. When I returned home to St. Louis, my relationship with my boyfriend fell apart in a dangerous way, and I saw who he really was. Because of that relationship, I needed to leave St. Louis, and God made that possible. God protected me, and directed me to exactly where I was supposed to be. God provided an opportunity for me to go to seminary, which was a call that had been on my heart for years, but I dismissed because I thought it was impossible to follow. I am so grateful for the time spent in prayer at campmeeting, and the prayers of the saints around me, because I am now happier than I have been in years. I am ministering and learning and growing every day. If you have never felt God move in a dynamic way in your life, you should take the time to attend campmeeting.

      1. I can identify with your story … Campmeeting was/is a critical part of my spiritual formation, and I first heard the call to ministry at Rawlinsville Camp Meeting.

  9. Is this the Salem, Ohio camp? My parents went to Salem Bible College, and I went with them! I was so proud of my black SBC sweater! I still have it!!! Dad and Mom: David and Marylee (Harkleroad) Hastings. Was there in about 1965 or 1966. I remember the ball field that was really funny to watch because I was little enough that I thought adults didn’t play games. LOL.

      1. There’s also a Salem Campground near Lucedale, Miss. My husband pastored on the 4-point charge where Salem UMC and Camp were active. Camp still meets in October, and he’s been back several times to preach. What you described is beautiful. He has preached at several camps across the nation, some have been mentioned in comments. May God continue to bless these meetings.

  10. Jonathan, this is so beautifully stated. It is always difficult for me to explain the camp meeting experience even to believing friends. I encourage them to join us, experience it for themselves – we have room in our cottage to spare!

    I am part of the Hollow Rock Camp Meeting community. My family, along with others, can trace our ancestry back to the original pioneers who gathered on these same grounds in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Ohio. Records in the Wellsville Historical Society support the camp records that the Hollow Rock Camp Meeting was organized in 1818 as a result of a similar movement that started in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in the early 1800s. These are the same Hollow Rock grounds used today. As we approach our 200th Anniversary, it is my understanding that Hollow Rock is the oldest camp meeting still in operation today. My mom, Eleanor Smith has written a book about the history of Hollow Rock and camp meetings on general. Anyone is interested in getting a copy of the book: it is available through the Hollow Rock website as a free digital download or a printed copy can be mailed for $11, http://www.hollowrock.org/history

    As many people now travel quite some distance to come to Hollow Rock, I am reminded of the difficulty of traveling even short distances in the 1800s. We come for those reasons you mentioned, Sabbath rest, community, recalibration, and spiritual formation. But what astounds me the most is the number of youth that come to Hollow Rock. We have consistently had approximately 100 teenagers at camp for the past couple of decades. Kids, some from unchurched homes, come to this place with no swimming pool/lake or nice accommodations, just hot humid Ohio weather. There is no WiFi and you’ll be lucky to hold a cell signal if you stand at just the right spot on Cooper Hill. They love Hollow Rock and the relationships that form here, returning year after year. It’s that setting apart where they find a different kind of rest. Of course it is our greatest hope they nurture a deep love for The Savior.

    In the 70s my dad wondered whether our family would continue coming to camp after his parents generation passed away. He then began to recognize the vital youth and children’s ministry at Hollow Rock and knew that here lay the camp’s future. He worked tirelessly, along with others, for the camp until he passed away this December in his 87th year. As more of these heroes pass on, it’s time for the next generation to pick up this mantle.

    The photos below were taken at the same spot, 1903 and 2013.

    1. Thank you for sharing! It has always been difficult to explain campmeeting to people who haven’t experienced it.

    2. Thanks Juli for your comments. I too have been a art of Hollow Rock all of y life. We were talking the other day and realized that we are now in the sixth generation of our family to attend. It’s a spiritual feast each summer.
      for ten days. This ear’s dates are July 21-31. come join us.

  11. I am so grateful for your blog. And I am glad my cousin, Juliana Barker, wrote below to share about Hollow Rock Camp Meeting. Like she said, it is so hard to explain to people what it is and what it means. So thank you!! I know that much of my formation as a follower of Jesus Christ is attributed from being a part of this community at Hollow Rock for those ten days of camp in July annually. He used my experience at camp meeting to guide me to my life’s work among Native American people in the Southwest. The reminder each year of the need to be yielded to Him and to be available for Him.

  12. Come visit us at Holbrook Campmeeting! This year is July 8-17

    We are located between canton and cumming just north of Alpharetta GA. We would love for anyone to attend! Most nights you might be invited for homemade ice cream and pound cake after service!

    1. I was there last night, and it was a true delight to be there again. MoP was an integral part of every summer while growing up. I am now a pastor, and I am so very grateful for the foundation of faith, of which campmeeting is a part, that I was blessed to receive. Although as warmly nostalgic as the memories are, I must confess that as Mom and I were walking up to the entrace last night, with the high 80’s temps and 90% humidity, I said to her that I was some kind of happy to be stepping into an air conditioned building rather than heading into the open-air tabernacle on Ohio St:-)

  13. Since the early 1800’s the Taylor family has been camping outside of Brownsville, TN around Tabernacle Methodist Church. The camp houses are regularly enlarged to handle over 700 “cousins”. There are 3 services offered each day beginning on Friday evening and running for a week. We have had outstanding preachers over the years. This year’s speaker is Leonard Sweet who has become a regular for us, preaching every 4 years. Ellsworth Kalas did the same, beginning back in the 60’s.
    Cokesbury hymns are still in favor. I have served as a musician there for 31 years and hope to continue for at least a few more. It is know as Kinfolks Camp meeting.

  14. I attended Damascus Camp Meeting (formerly knows as Bealls Grove Camp Meeting), outside of Browningsville, MD. The floor of the tabernacle was sawdust and I remember playing in it during the services when I was little. Later , they updated to concrete! I have many cherished memories from camp. Best of all, that’s where I gave my heart to Jesus and felt the call to full time Christian service! We went every year, 10 days in August! I was so excited when I was old enough to stay on the grounds in the youth dorm. Even though I only lived a mile away, the stay at camp was anticipated yearly! My famiiy and relatives helped with the annual cleaning of the grounds and cabins in July every year. Our youth group always cleaned the main tabernacle and the snack bar, and racked leaves. Our church canceled Sunday morning service for the 2 Sundays of camp and everyone attended the 11 o’clock service and ate dinner afterwards in the dining hall! LOVED camp meeting!

  15. It was serious family time at the Nazarene Campmeeting in Capitan, NM. Our kids loved to go with grandparents. And the food was great!

  16. Camp Meeting on the Greenbrier in Hinton, WV, every Labor Day weekend Thursday to Labor Day for over 60 years! I’ve attended for 38 years, haven’t missed a year since I was in the womb. The Holy Spirits shows up and shows off every year! Lots of generations of great friends and family, with the same core families coming every year. I love camp meeting. I got saved in the tent at the wooden rail alter, kneeling in the sawdust. We’ve hosted several great gospel music groups including The Hoppers, The Green’s, and many more. Hope more will join us this year on Labor Day weekend for Camp Meeting on the Greenbrier at Camp Summers, in Hinton, WV.

    1. every summer from the time i was 6 years old, my family would visit a sunday evening service at Sebring Camp Meeting and later on at Hollow Rock – both in Ohio. but those were only the warm-up for 10 days in august when my mother would pack my brother and me up for Camp Sychar in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. my dear dad would need to work but would come both weekends and then drive back home late on sunday night. there was no air conditioning in any of the buildings the and creature comforts were at a minimum – but it didn’t matter – my family loved Camp Sychar – and it was the highlight of my summer. Rev. Clyde Wendall, the camp president for many years, would say in his opening remarks at the first service of the camp – if you need anything – please let us know – and we will tell you how you can get along without it! my brother and i forged friendships at Sychar that have lasted a lifetime – and provided sweet memories of challenges to our faith, loving friends that we could hardly wait to see again every summer, working with those friends whether it be in the cafeteria or setting up tents, etc., talking and laughing till the middle of the night – wanting to cram as much fun and laughter and connection in to the 10 days as possible! i remember a particular service when i was in high school – when the evangelist asked if we felt God’s call on our lives – and if we did – to stand. i stood and recall that my body was trembling. i didn’t know why i was standing – i had not heard the audible voice of God – but that trembling signaled to me that God was calling me to something. i went to Asbury College in the 70’s and waited to see where God would lead me. God “called” me through my interests and who i am as a human being he had created and loved. it started with social work and moved into a graduate degree in clinical psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University in California. those days at Camp Sychar were so important in combining God’s Word and the love of his people – and helped me understand that my life of service would take the turn of seeing and addressing the emotional needs of people. i meet so many Christians that love the Lord – but cannot experience His grace. camp meeting preached the truth – and the people there preached His grace – and i will be forever grateful to those folks who gathered – and still do – every year for 10 days – to listen to God and one another.

  17. every summer from the time i was 6 years old, my family would visit a sunday evening service at Sebring Camp Meeting and later on at Hollow Rock – both in Ohio. but those were only the warm-up for 10 days in august when my mother would pack my brother and me up for Camp Sychar in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. my dear dad would need to work but would come both weekends and then drive back home late on sunday night. there was no air conditioning in any of the buildings the and creature comforts were at a minimum – but it didn’t matter – my family loved Camp Sychar – and it was the highlight of my summer. Rev. Clyde Wendall, the camp president for many years, would say in his opening remarks at the first service of the camp – if you need anything – please let us know – and we will tell you how you can get along without it! my brother and i forged friendships at Sychar that have lasted a lifetime – and provided sweet memories of challenges to our faith, loving friends that we could hardly wait to see again every summer, working with those friends whether it be in the cafeteria or setting up tents, etc., talking and laughing till the middle of the night – wanting to cram as much fun and laughter and connection in to the 10 days as possible! i remember a particular service when i was in high school – when the evangelist asked if we felt God’s call on our lives – and if we did – to stand. i stood and recall that my body was trembling. i didn’t know why i was standing – i had not heard the audible voice of God – but that trembling signaled to me that God was calling me to something. i went to Asbury College in the 70’s and waited to see where God would lead me. God “called” me through my interests and who i am as a human being he had created and loved. it started with social work and moved into a graduate degree in clinical psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University in California. those days at Camp Sychar were so important in combining God’s Word and the love of his people – and helped me understand that my life of service would take the turn of seeing and addressing the emotional needs of people. i meet so many Christians that love the Lord – but cannot experience His grace. camp meeting preached the truth – and the people there preached His grace – and i will be forever grateful to those folks who gathered – and still do – every year for 10 days – to listen to God and one another.

  18. I’m a Children’s Pastor at one of the largest UMC churches in West Ohio…and was Children’s Evangelist, with my husband, at Camp Sychar (Mt Vernon, Ohio) for 10 years…have attended camp meeting all my life with 3 generations of my family. SO hard to explain Camp to my colleagues and SO appreciate your post! In a world of modern worship and media/entertainment heavy work camps for teens, folks can’t understand why we go away for 10 days to go to church every day and our teenage son can’t wait to sleep in a metal barn, with no AC, work in a kitchen washing dishes and have limited cell service…but he does (with over 100 other youth) and our family is better for it!?

  19. What a GREAT article!! This Summer will be MY 46th year of attending a camp meeting @ BROWN CITY MISSIONARY CAMP in Brown City Michigan. This is the camp that my husband grew up attending & yes it goes back to HIS great grandmother!
    My mother-in-law told me that her grandmother brought her to camp meeting when she was 6 weeks old & ” she didn’t miss a camp meeting in 86 years ( until her death) .
    This will be my husbands 71st year of camp. When our children heard that Dad hadn’t missed a ” camp time in … Years ” they decided to try & keep that tradition going!! ( Grandmas record of 86 years is the goal to beat!! ) If you can make it to camp meeting even for 1 day it still counts,
    So now this will be our daughters 43rd year, & 31st year, & now our Granddaughters will celebrate 9 years & 6 years of attending BCC!
    Wonderful traditions to hold onto, & yes we do stay in the cabin my husband grew up in! ( they acquired the cabin when he was around age 11 & before that they stayed in tents! )
    Just one thing about your article that I am disappointed in is: we don’t seem to sing as many of the old hymns as we used to, the Praise choruses ( I call then 7-11 songs. Same phrase sung 7-11 times over & over ) have crept into the worship services. Scripture tells us that we need: Psalms HYMNS & Praises, so maybe the old hymns of faith will return!
    Thanks again for a great walk down memory lane of Camp meetings!

  20. My husband and I have gone to the Black Hills Free Methodist Camp in Grafton, WV since we were babies. My husband is 58 and this will make his 59th year of attending. Our parents were faithful camp goers and we have raised our children at that camp and now have grandchildren running around. We all look forward to it every year. In fact my grown children and their spouses are at the camp right now as leaders in our Teen Camp. The camp celebrated its 75th Anniversary last year and has a strong group of people who love God and who love camp that are attending; young ones are coming up to step in the older ones shoes in making sure that God’s word is spread throughout the hills of West Virginia. Camp meeting has been a life changer for all of us in more ways than one. Praise God for His faithfulness in meeting us there!! Getting excited for Camp Meeting 2016 which starts July 7th and goes to July 16th.

    1. It has been my privilege to speak at Black Hills on two separate occasions….great camp with great folks keeping this camp meeting alive and vibrant.

  21. Thanks so much for the article Jonathan! You’ve been able to describe what motivates us to willingly lay aside a variety of creature comforts to spend a week or two at campmeeting. The influence of camps on my life is immeasurable; I’m the product of two Ohio campmeetings; Sychar and Hollow Rock. My mom’s family has been a part of Sychar for several generartions, including three who currently attend. It has been one of the primary influences on my Christian life; I responded to an altar call as a child in the children’s tabernacle, sensed a deeper calling as a youth to a fully surrendered life and heard a call to pastoral ministry there as well. I’ve told my kids countless times “The best friends I have all came from Sychar.” The dates of Camp Sychar this year are July 28-Aug.7. http://www.campsychar.org
    My dad’s family still is a part of Hollow Rock; my aunt and cousins have cottages there and consider the days spent there as the most precious of the year. My Grandpa Brookes served Hollow Rock as President for quite a few years until shortly before his death in 1979. Some of my fondest memories as a kid are of spending the night with my grandparents at Hollow Rock. Hollow Rock’s dates are July 21-30. http://www.hollowrock.org

  22. This is an excellent article! I’ve attended Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting in Flovilla, GA for 54 of my 56 years. We now have 4 generations in our hundred year old cabin. It’s home for us.

  23. Thank you for a trip down memory lane! My pastor father took my brothers and I to camp every year as our family vacation. My husband and I continued taking my Mom after he went to heaven. My husband and I began taking our children as babies. We now take our grandchildren, or meet them at Indiana South Wesleyan Camp in Orleans Indiana. This year’s camp is July 17-25 with Ray Lassell, Aaron Willis as evangelists & the Mark Duebbeld family as singers. We will stay in our family cabin. Our girls will stay in the other two cabins we bought. If you have never been to a camp meeting, you can’t explain the wonderful Spirit of God in the services!

  24. Enjoyed this article and the replies. I grew up in eastern North Carolina and attended Falcon Camp Meeting from before I was born! My dad was a minister and Falcon Camp Meeting was a must. We always had the best ministers the Pentecostal Holiness Church had to offer. And the singing was wonderful. There is nothing like the old hymns with hand-clapping beat and the gospel message. It began over 100 years ago in a little octagon-shaped church. As the crowds got larger, tents were used, then a wooden building with a sawdust floor and benches made of slats of wood. Now that is gone and a well-appointed brick multi-purpose building is used. I still go to Falcon Camp Meeting in late July and still enjoy the spirit of the Holy Spirit that permeates the place. Falcon is located east of I-95 near Dunn,NC. It will always have a piece of my heart.

  25. Thank you for sharing about the experiences of camp meeting all across our wonderful Christian country. I am seen in a picture of my Dad holding me in his arms and on the back of the picture is written….”Esther @ Grandma and Grandads at Dimock Camp Meeting on her 1st birthday. I am now 78 years old and I have a cottage at that same camp ground .My college degree was in Christian Education and I taught classes @ Dimock Camp Meeting for several summers for the United Methodist Church. Dimock Camp Meeting has services every Sunday evening beginning the 4th of July week-end and ending the Sunday of Labor Day week end. It is located in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania about 10 miles off of interstate 81. The county seat is in Montrose, Pa. and that is about 8 miles from Dimock Camp Meeting. There are approximately 20 cottages, a dining hall, a chapel, a visitors guest house, a small lake and is marked as one of the 300+ historical sites of the Wyoming Conference of the United Methodist Church. You can learn more about the campground if you check out our web site. I could write pages and pages about the history of Dimock Camp Meeting and how it is still changing peoples lives and deepening their spiritual development from babies to 78 year old life-time of memories . Experiences NEVER to be forgotten

  26. Carey’s Camp in Millsboro, Delaware will be holding its 128th annual camp meeting beginning Weds July 27th and running through Sun Aug 7th. Camp holds many special memories for me. Met my Lord there, had my spirit filled there, met my husband there, had our children christened there and 3 years ago my son got married during the 125th year celebration. My children and now my grandchildren believe it is one of the GREATEST places in earth! God is surely alive and well!!

  27. A poem I wrote about my years of youth camp in the 1960’s and early 1970’s at Scottsville Camp:

    My Life at Scottsville Camp
    By Peter Plank

    SCOTTSVILLE CAMP, a special place
    of tall pine trees and wide open space.
    As a little boy how could I know
    that it was here my spiritual life would grow.

    Through all of my counselors and all of my friends,
    the pastors, the laymen, there was no end
    to all of the people that cared for me
    and helped me to grow in my Christianity.

    This camp was filled with everyone
    from layman’s daughter to preacher’s son.
    Filled with excitement and sleepless nights
    of water balloons and pillow fights!

    We would sneak out at night and never thought
    that we could possibly ever get caught.
    We would look all week for the girl that we like
    to ask her out on the Friday night hike.

    Ping pong, horseshoes, we had it all
    from shuffleboard to fast-pitch softball.
    The All-Stars of the softball team would play
    the preachers team on Saturday.

    The whole campgrounds would turn out
    to watch Bro. Bob Collins stumble about,
    and Bro. Buddy Little would look over to see
    Bro. Bob Williams yelling at the referee!

    And Bro. Ark Noel could hit that home run
    I wondered how that could ever be done!
    When our All Stars would win the preachers would say
    that the sun was too hot or we cheated that day!

    Well, the campgrounds seem so much smaller now,
    the dorm rooms have shrunk and I don’t know how.
    The roads are much narrower, the cabins so small,
    and the pine trees don’t look quite as tall.

    It is me that is tall for I have grown,
    I now have a career, a family, a home.
    And life is much busier than it was back then,
    the days are so short and the nights quickly end.

    But my goal is the same as it has been through the years,
    I am going to HEAVEN where there will be no more tears!
    And all will be worth it, the joy and the pain
    for I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    So, I thank God for the people who spent time with me.
    For nothing can take the place you see
    of those precious grounds, God used as a lamp
    to light up my life, old SCOTTSVILLE CAMP!

    1. I was at Scottsville Camp every summer from 1975 to 1989 when I left Dallas District. Sometimes for several weeks for teen and Children’s camps. Our son Jason grew up on Scottsville.Fond Memories.
      Geoff and Sharon Gunter

  28. Seyfert Camp Meeting, located near Reading, PA was where I first remember going to “camp”! I still attend the camp as a retired Pastor. Everything you said about camp meetings and their importance in our spiritual life is true. It was at Seyfert where I made an eternal YES to the Lord answering his call. There were many camp meetings here in South Jersey, but sadly most have disappeared. Seyfert remains strong! Always held the first Sunday to the Second Sunday in August!

  29. The 173rd Lake Creek Campmeeting begins July 31 just southeast of Smithton, MO, about two hours east of Kansas City and three and a half west of St. Louis. Check out our Facebook page for more info. All are welcome.

  30. West Chazy Holiness Campmeeting Association, west Chazy, NY was formed about 7 years ago by individuals who couldn’t bear to let a historical 150 plus year old Campmeeting die. We bought the grounds and public buildings from The Wesleyan Church district, and have restructured membership and ownership! The 4th generation of our family is experiencing the bond of travel to camp , my particular family from NC, my sister from KY. We don’t share our cottage, but each family has it’s own…. Love Campmeeting!

  31. I’ve been a camper all my life. I’ve been Camp Director, Camp President, Children’s Director, Youth Director, cleaned toilets for two years, helped with most major projects, Missionary and Camp Evangelist (twice) – ha ha ha ha… It was where I made major spiritual decisions throughout my life! My kids were immersed in it and still participate. We’re taking our grandchildren this summer. We attend the Tri State Free Methodist Family Camp in East Liverpool, OH. This year, our tabernacle is 90 years old! 🙂

  32. After a two year break, we will have camp meeting again in South Carolina for the Wesleyan Church. I attended my first 65 years ago at Greer, SC and more recently at Table Rock, SC. So many, many memories and altars. Pray that God will come down again this year July 21-24

  33. I appreciate reading all the comments concerning the importance of the Holiness Camp Meeting movement. I have just had the opportunity of ministry at the Beulah Holiness Camp in Excel, Alabama. We had a great camp with many young people in attendance and seeing them making commitments around the altar was such a blessing to me. It was at Cherry Run Camp in Rimersburg, PA. , that I was called into the ministry. I was blessed to have had the opportunity of being invited to speak at Cherry Run Camp in 2013 as they celebrated their 150 Anniversary as a Holiness Camp. Cherry Run has had a vital part in my spiritual journey. It was at Cherry Run that I first heard of Asbury University and also Asbury Theological Seminary through the ministry of Rev. Maurice Stevens a United Methodist Evangelist from Wilmore, Ky. We need the Holiness Camps more than ever in our society today. Pray for the Camps throughout our nation, that the sparks of Revival will take place that will bring another Great Awakening to this nation and to the local churches all across this great land. We need to hear the message of heart holiness and perfect love that removes fear. May we stand against the spirit of darkness that is coming across our nation and let the Light of Christ shine through us to a generation that is starving for truth. Truth that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ and His indwelling Holy Spirit.

  34. Brown City Missionary Church Camp is the camp meeting where I attend every year. As of yet, I have not missed a year where I have not attended at least one service … College years were hard to take the full week off. I am now 57 years old and anxiously look forward to camp this year. We began staying in tents and cooking outside. We moved on to campers and now we own a cabin with our own shower (and 95% of the time, the water is hot). Camp meeting is a time of true Sabbeth rest – Get away from the rat race of life. Slowing down gives us the ability to hear God’s voice better. Camp meeting is about family, friends and God. I look forward to all of my family being at camp.. My parents had come majority of their lives. We live in miles apart from cousins, aunt and uncles, friends from our childhood and enjoy time catching up with them. This year both of my kids will be able to join us as well as our son’s fiance and our foster son and his wife. Memories are made. It does seem odd to the weird to the world that we would take a week off of work to go to worship services and Bible studies for a week to ten days and that after one year, people are anxious to go back year after year. God always shows up and teach us and show us many new things. Keep praying for camps to continue to be what God wants them to be.

  35. As I type this, I am at Sharon Camp near Wadsworth, Ohio. I came here as a teen with my dad, the late Dr. J. Harold Loman. I was saved at this camp under the influence of my dad’s sermon July 4, 1963. Now, 53 years later, I am the evangelist at this camp. Camp meetings helped establish my spiritual DNA. Thanks for your insightful and timely article. By the way, my dad was a founding member of the Iron Dukes Booster Club at Duke. His name is on the wall in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Go Blue Devils!

  36. What a great article, and the responses are fantastic. My own camp meeting background would be at the Wesleyan Methodist camp in Stoneboro, PA. The camp this year begins August 2 and continues to August 11. I think the camp is 116 years old. As with others who have written, conference (June), Youth camp (July), and camp meeting (August) were formative forces in my early life. In following the Lord to God’s Bible School & College, I was also impacted by the camp meeting there (and heard J. Byron Crouse every year as he led singing, blew his trombone, and raised money), and its vast array of holiness preachers.. Was also acquainted with Salem Bible School, Victory Grove camp, Binghamton Camp (as mentioned in earlier posts. And as a missionary speaker, and holiness preacher, have, and still do, attend scores of different holiness camp meetings, generally associated with the Interchurch Holiness Convention. My wife, incidentaly, attended Mount of Praise camp in Circleville, OH as a child. Other camps not mentioned above with which we have some association are Camp Freedom, in St. Petersburg, Sea Breeze Camp in Hobe Sound, FL, Penns Creek camp in PA, Comargo camp (Cincinnati area), Mid-west Pilgrim camp in Frankfort, IN, … oh well, there are too many. But please know this has been an exciting and rewarding trip, enjoying the original article and then the comments that followed. ( we live about 14 miles from the Orleans Wesleyan camp.)

  37. I’m reading this on the first Monday of the 78th annual week long Camp Meeting (ya gotta capitalize it – it’s that special!) of Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church in Fort Valley, GA. Four meetings a day incl. the 7:30 a.m. prayer service, cafeteria and dormitory in the grounds with a bunch of “cabins” (old term that is still used even though some are brick modern homes now) that folks stay in. I’m 57 and have attended every CM since I was a year old. My parents built a 4 bedroom cabin in 1973 that they brought all 5 of us boys to every year. A couple of years ago they had it remodeled and they built a new brick 2-story 5 bedroom “cabin” across the street. This year they and 3 of their 5 sons + assorted grands and great-grands have those 9 bedrooms filled… and another son and other grands are staying in other cabins on the Camp Ground. Our Camp Ground and specifically our annual Camp Meeting has been the glue that has kept our association of CSHC congregations together throughout the years! Lifelong friendships start and continue here and lead to visits and increased fellowship from congregation to congregation in the 51 weeks between every Camp Meeting! We now webcast our services from every CM and they are watched around the country every year. During the years the main sanctuary has gone from a wooden building that lasted from 1939 to 1949. In 1950 a brick sanctuary was built that seated 800-1,000… it was air conditioned in ’73 +/- (praise God!) and it lasted until 2003. It was razed the week after CM 2003 and a modern sanctuary was built on the same spot that was ready for CM 2004 (official “capacity” is 1,088, I noticed on the certificate last night). Thank God for camp meetings everywhere and for CSHC Camp Meeting in my life! Great article and comments here!

  38. I’m singing with my church choir tonight at the Singleroof Campmeeting in McDonough GA! I wish I had grown up with this tradition. I love attending, singing, and listing to the awesome preaching!

  39. I go our camp meeting to get my spiritual recharge every summer. We own a small cottage that can sleep 7 people. I could probably sleep even more if I got our loft fixed up. We have glorious old trees at our camp meeting which keeps the temperature about 10º cooker than at home. However, last summer we had 2 air conditioners put in as my husband can not stand the heat. We are also very blessed to have a community pool at our camp meeting where I enjoy cooling off.

    I love camp meeting time but the time I enjoy being at camp the most is after the season is over when there are just a few campers left. When we first bought our cottage in 1992 there was two continuous weeks of camp meeting. That was pared down to 1 week. Now we have a ‘Long Weekend’ that goes from Wednesday morning to Sunday night. We hope to add another long weekend next summer.

    While it is wonderful to have a special place to go to owning a cottage at a Camp Meeting is not for everyone. You need to look at it as real mission, not only to the camp community on a large scale, to each other at camp on a personal level, but beyond the gate and into the world.

    This year I had our 3 grandsons stay with me at our cottage for much of the summer. They love the freedom of the camp, the pool, and the wonderful game room that was created for the kids -complete with many Christian oriented movies. The almost 12 year old gets bored as I allow very little time on electronics. Instead I make sure they all had a bike to ride.

    For the past few years we haven’t had any children’s activities or classes during camp meeting week. It was a real shame. When we bought our cottage there was a real focus on the children. Hopefully the program director will address the issue next summer. There was a lot of feedback of people desiring it. Camp meetings will not be able to bring in young families if there is nothing for the kids to do while mom and dad are at camp meetings.

  40. I grew up attending the Denton Wesleyan Camp, formerly Pilgrim m Holiness. I have many great memories as a youth. Hearing some of the great evangelist of the Holiness movement, such saints as Joshua Stauffer, Paul Pierpoint, and others. My first visit to the camp grounds was in 1955, at the age of 11. I have witnessed many conversions, healing, and dedications of one’s life to the Lord. Over the years I have served on the camp board and currently serve as treasurer, what a blessing to be working for His Kingdom, playing a small part in keeping this vibrant camp alive for future generations.
    Bill Arnold

    1. I grew up going to Denton Camp with my family in the 80s-90s. We drove every year from PA to attend, and it was an integral part of building my faith. Today I’m living in Atlantic Canada, and we attend family camp here every year, and every year I’m thankful for the legacy and impact that both camps have had in my life!

  41. I haven’t seen a mention of the Seabreeze Camp meeting at Hobe Sound Florida. It is still vibrant, spiritual and focused on the evangelistic areas of the church. Missions Day, Bible College service and full children’s camp services. Anyone who has memories of the “old-fashioned” camp meetings of a past generation would love it!

  42. 2017 Holbrook Campmeeting starts July 14 th thru July 23th. Located off Hwy 20 Cherokee Co/Forsyth Co Ga line. Everyone is welcome. Services everyday 11:00, 3:00 and 8:00.

  43. Bethlehem Camp Meeting is north of Panama City/ Bonifay, Florida. I am so happy to see so many states still have Camps.
    bethlehemfamily camp.org = website. We meet in late June of each year Friday – Friday in the week that avoids running into 4th of July weekend. Started in 1931 camp has run continuously, only missing one year during World War II.

  44. Palmer Creek campmeeting in Saucier MS it starts on July 6, 2018 and for through July 15, 2018!

  45. Union Bible College & Academy (of which Joshua Stauffer – mentioned above – was a former president) is still actively engaged in camp meetings every summer. Our PR groups travel throughout the summer (basically coast to coast) and many of our faculty and staff are active in speaking, singing, etc. Usually, I personally participate in about six camps per year. As I write this I am sharing preaching responsibilities at Ebinezer Holiness Baptist Camp in Columbia, South Carolina.

    Rev. Adam Buckler
    President, UBCA

  46. It has been my privilege to serve as evangelist in a number of the camps mentioned above. Numerous others I have heard about for many years and thank God for every one!
    My roots are in the Mississippi Annual Conference, Congregational Methodist Church, and our campground was near Laurel, MS, on the edge of a Choctaw Indian reservation. From childhood I remember the sawdust floor and splintery benches, the hot summer nights and funeral home fans, the sound of tree frogs and the old well pump kicking on in the middle of the sermon… all vivid, beautiful memories. But best of all, I well remember the the old preachers – Lentz, Alman, Trueblood, Loman, Humble, and more – who poured out their souls to win others, wiped the sweat and the tears from their face as they preached, pled with sinners and backsliders to repent, exhorted unsanctified believers to seek the fullness of God… I remember how powerfully God spoke to my heart and drew me to the Christ! God spoke to us and no one needed to explain that. His presence and power were real and the Word was pungent. We could not leave there the same.
    I weep when I now see the poor, sad substitutions offered nowadays in many places for the powerful movings of the Holy Spirit and deep conviction we knew in those days. I am tired of seeing so many stirred but so few changed. “Oh God, do it again!”

  47. Rawlinsville Campmeeting is 2 weeks of heaven on earth! July 30th to August 12th. Located in southern Lancaster County, PA. God has been at work here for 134 years! Come and check it out!

  48. I was raised next door to the American Holiness Campground in West Branch Mi. Many times I poured out my heart to God at the altars there. It is part of my heritage my grandfather donated the land and the properties were my backyard playground. I listened to many men and women of God bring the Gospel messages that God put on their hearts. I too loved the singing and believe that many of my experiences there prepared me for how I serve in my local church now. My dad was a bivocational Pastor. Many times we would go looking for Daddy around the house and find him at the campground praying. Now I am married and live in Tennessee. My family loves to attend camp meeting at Foothills Camp and Retreat Center in Louisville TN. Both of my children have sought God at the altars here, have enjoyed many fun activities and made life long friends. My son recieved his call into ministry at these altars. I agree with everything you wrote in this article. Thank you for sharing. I am a little bit homesick to see the camp in Michigan now. ? it is in campmeeting week this week and my nephew is the evangelist. He is the third generation to preach at the camp.

  49. My wife and I have attended many camp meetings over the years. We went to Beulah Camp in Alabama yesterday, first time there. We plan to go to Beulah Holiness Camp in Illinois at the end of July. Glad camps are still going!

  50. We’re heading down to Indian Springs Holiness Campmeeting in Flovilla, GA this week. In the 1990’s and 2000’s our cottage was full of our children and their friends. This year it will be filled with our grandchildren and THEIR friends! Wonderful legacy to pass on!

  51. My family had 6 generations that attended South Seaville Methodist Camp Meeting near Ocean City and Sea Isle, NJ. What wonderful memories of long, hot South Jersey summers spent at my grandparent’s cottage. Bible School in the morning, games on their huge porch or bike rides in the afternoon and church services at night followed by ice cream at the boarding house. I’m 62 now, my great grand and my grand parents have been in Heaven for many years and now my father is with them and the cottage has been sold, but those memories live fresh in my mind. The best time of my life.

  52. It caught my attention when you said that attending summer camps could awaken people since there will be preachers and gospels that will be shared all throughout. This is something that I will consider because I want my two teenagers to have an open heart and mind in accepting and understanding the gospel of God. Maybe, I can find a Christian youth conference event where I can register their names within the week.

  53. I love attending family camp meeting and Youth Ministries Camp Meeting. It help my spiritual growth, period to relax, pray more, meditate and have social interactions. It also a good time for me to reflect on my activities and plan better. It is a time of thanksgiving to God for wondrous things He has done for me reflecting on my activities since last camp meeting. Another camp meeting is coming up soon – August 27-September4, Ede Nigeria. It is a family camp meeting of Seventh day Adventist Church in Osun Conference. I am Elder Gbadeyan Adebayo M. +2347064747251.

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