Being a son of an Adventist preacher, I will never forget the camp meetings. We were out there. We were out at the camp when my father and the other workers worked to get the camp in shape for the visitors and members. I can still remember seeing preachers who you normally see gracing pulpits instead cleaning stalls throwing away trash and cleaning kitchens.
I then remember the encampment itself. There were programs for the youth. I still remember the “happy time tent.” It was an era when little kids could roam and discover the landscape of our old “Camp Shady Hill.”
I remember walking around everywhere. I can remember getting chiggers and mosquito bites. I can remember seeing frogs and other animals as we invaded their teritory. Those were great days.
Then the meetings themselves. Of course you got to hear the other preachers from the conference. You could hear T.A. Mcneally and Butch Rice and the rest of the preachers out there. But then you could also hear the best of the preachers outside of the conference. people like Henry Wright, C. D. Brooks, E. E. Cleveland, and Calvin Rock would come in. Then there would be singers some you have heard of like Walter Artist and some who you may not have heard of although well known out side,
Camp meeting was more than meetings, it was a time to interact with the children of the other workers. Folks who I still remember and many who I even interact with on occassion today. It was a time to become a community. We were a conference. But more than that, it was a time for many, who find themselves at very remote areas, to recognize that there were more Seventh-day people than just the 30 or 40 who meet at their congregaton.
It was a time to be reminded of who we are and why we are here. It was a time to be encouraged that the end is still coming and Jesus is still coming again.
I sometimes wonder what the moving of camp meeting online means for camp meeting. Certainly it is a different era than the era of a 10 year old kid running around “Camp Shady Hill” in the 1970s, but I miss it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ability to turn on camp meeting online. I did it this year. I looked at Kentucky-Tenn, South Central, and 3abn camp meetings online. I love seeing these preachers and musicians sing and preach to the glory of God. I love the lack of heat and travel. In short, I love the convenience.
In an era when camp meeting attendance during the week seems to be going down, one wonders if the one week on an encampment makes sense financially, but I must admit that I will miss it if it goes away. And I will always remember singing and doing crafts at the “happy time tent.”