Camp Meeting Memories? [Main Story]
As a youth (I’m now 57 years old), one of my favorite family memories was our Southern Union camp meeting summer tours. Some of my favorite memories were the smells of the wood chips on the floor of the giant canvas tents, and don’t forget the heavy-duty wooden chairs.
One Sabbath morning a long line of dark-suited people entered the main stage, and all of them sat down at the same time on the very back of the stage. All of a sudden the stage tipped up into the air and the seated dignitaries fell into the wall of the tent and disappeared as the tent wall floated down!
The audience’s reaction was a moment of disbelief with silence, and then laughter as the stage participants began to lift the tent wall and climb back onto the stage.
Ron Whitehead, Berrien Springs, Michigan
I took my children and later my grandchildren to camp meeting at Shenandoah Valley Academy. My sister brought her “tribe” and gave her heart to Jesus there. My husband, after he surrendered to Jesus, loved camp meeting.
There were so many wonderful seminars. I got help with my marriage, my anxiety, teaching my children. And the sermons from such speakers as Henry Wright, Morris Venden, Ruthie Jacobsen, and C. E. Bradford telling us that evangelism is just “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread!”—each one brought us closer to the Lord!
The wonderful music, the great fellowship; for me, camp meeting was just a preview of what heaven will be like.
Ann Williams, Petersburg, Virginia
In South Africa camp meeting takes place over the Easter week. One of the campgrounds is outside a little town called Hartenbos. This year our family arrived a day earlier, and we were able to enjoy seeing the tents go up until the entire grounds were covered in tents and caravans of various shapes and sizes. Despite the fact that we had rain on and off for much of the weekend, we experienced a fire in our hearts.
One precious memory comes from the divine service on Sabbath. I was singing one of the hymns, and I realized the magnificence of the moment. Looking around me, I saw the huge tent full of hundreds of Adventists singing praise to God. That moment gave me a little foretaste of heaven.
Karen Thomas, South Africa
My favorite camp meeting memories are from my childhood when Eric B. Hare, home on furlough, would come to the children’s tents and tell stories about his work in Burma. Clever Queen was one person I remember him talking about. You could always tell which tent he was at, as there was no standing room around the outside from all the adults there to listen to the stories.
Marie Nix, Seattle, Washington
I remember taking my younger brother in a baby carriage to my junior and earliteen classes in Southern New England Conference, where Mark Finley was one of our leaders. Oh, and the Dorcas building and buying my mom pot holders and aprons that the women had made. We didn’t need a lot of money, just a dime or a quarter, but we proudly presented Mom with her gifts each year.
In Northern New England Conference we stayed in an old school bus one year, and since I was the oldest child, and needed “more room” than toddler siblings (seven younger ones), my parents let me and some public school friends that came with us for the week, sleep under the back of the bus on the ground in our sleeping bags. I was glad for good weather that year.
Christie Decker, Wilton, Maine
At Gladstone camp meeting as a married young adult I finally understood through Morris Venden that God was trying to get me into heaven, not trying to keep me out! How overwhelmed with love I was from then on! What a relief to understand what Jesus did for me, and that I just had to let Him save me! I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to help others understand and accept that wonderful truth.
Pam Hilde Baumgartner, College Place, Washington
I remember squishing 10 of us from one small church into one dorm room to stay the week of camp meeting. An older couple took all the youth to camp meeting, and it was the greatest time of all. We tried to put toothpaste back into the tube after we squished it all out. We went on a hike, and a friend and I fell into the water. We had to dry my friends’ clothes and shoes in the dryer while hanging out in blankets waiting for them.
Carrie Hope Wickham, Tullahoma, Tennessee