Camp Meetings survival secret

Here is what I think is the secret to Camp Meetings survival.

What do YOU think?

keith drury


Ken and Marilyn Blake said...

Sounds reasonable but I am wondering if it works. Do you know of any such camps making it?

Lisa Mattoon said...

I think this is what will end up happening with the Eastern New York/New England District's former camp in West Chazy, NY. The district has sold the camp to an interdenominational group of Evangelical Christians (mostly former attendees of the camp). The group established an association and 2009 was the first year that the camp ran again.

There is much hope in the survival of this camp. There are a lot of good thoughts here and I do agree that the camp became a financial burden to the district and that the local churches of the district were not supporting it. However, I would also say that the district can be blamed for poor leadership over the camp and that the DBA was not able to provide the proper oversight for the finances of the camp. The camp could have been more self-supporting if the district had maintained a vision for the financial matters of the camp.

Ken - Seyfert Camp in Birdsboro, PA is a good example of a former Evangelical Christian Church camp that is independent now and is making it. I hope that one day West Chazy Camp will be able to thrive as Seyfert has.

Jim Schenck said...

This has already happened in West Michigan District. A few years ago, the Disctrict Conference set the camp free with some hefty monetary front money. Many - and I have to include myself - were upset with the move, some seeing it as the District Board trying to sabotage the camp, etc.
The camp has done pretty well. I believe the finances are stable, attendance is pretty good throughout the summer, and the main camping time is good.
There are still issues, hiccups and challenges, but the people do feel more ownership/responsibility for the thriving of the camp.

Cecil said...

I am the President of Seyfert Camp, (Birdsboro) near Reading, PA (www.seyfertcamp.com). Seyfert was the denominational headquarters of the former Holiness Christian Church and Evangelical Christian Church. When we merged with the Wesleyan Church a number of years ago, we assumed that the Penn/Jersey District would come in and operate the camp. The opposite was true. We formed our own Board, and went totally independent. We have no support from the District, however, we do host the Kids Camp each year.
We are not only surviving, but improving the grounds, and are starting to see many new and younger families get involved. Financially we are holding our own, even in these difficult economic times.
I totally agree with this column. There is a renewed interest in both volunteer work, and in giving. I know it works, and we expect greater things in the days ahead as the Lord gives us wisdom to plan this ministry opportunity.

kerry said...

Indiana Central District (Wesleyan Church) just made this move. They could have sold the camp for 5 times the money that they actually got. But instead they sold it to friends who will run it as a private not-for-profit who will develop it and continue to make it available for summer camping, training events, etc. This is good news for FLAME and for the many who care about the Pilgrim heritage of that property (spill over from your other Tuesday topic this week). The proof will be in the pudding, but I am very hopeful. The new owners now can appeal to financial backers and users MUCH more broadly than the few dozen churches in the Wesleyan district.

Schuyler Avenue Wesleyan said...

I have seen it work (West Michigan) and I now Pastor in the Indiana Central District and am excited for the camp making this move. It was the only way for the camp to survive. To put it into the hands of those passionate about camp but to not be a hinderance financially to a District wanting to plant churches and evangelize the lost.

Eric + said...

I agree one hundred percent! One thing I do think is a possible benefit is the use of the space for more than just "camp meetings." Ideally, the camp meeting would be self sufficient and could even be used as a conference center, a retreat center, etc. I've even seen some with retirement villages for retired missionaries & pastors.

Let me go on a bit of a tangent. I am a young pastor (early 30's) in the Church of the Nazarene. While I am not a huge fan of traditional camp meeting preaching or traditional camp meeting hymnody, but I am a huge fan of campmeeting. I happen to pastor very near a major independent camp meeting (Hollowrock Camp). So I usually attend both Hollowrock and our District Camp. Let me compare the two and then make a couple comments.

Hollowrock is very traditional with a morning Bible study, an afternoon service, an evening service, prayer hours throughout the day, programming for children and youth, and plenty of cottages for people to stay in during the 10 days of camp.

Our district camp has transitioned to a "family camp" approach. There is one service each day - in the evening. Some evenings it is so informal I wouldn't even really call it a "service." Each day has a theme "Primetime Day" "Special Needs Day" "Pastor's Appreciation Day" "Missions Day" etc. There is very little structure so as to be "family oriented," and the living space is minimal.

While I have no problem with being "family friendly" what I love about the traditional camp meeting is the spiritual emphasis. Three services a day, community prayer times, lots of quiet time, a real sense of intense spiritual journeying. For most of my people, this is the closest thing they will ever experience to a spiritual retreat. That is a good thing. Our people need that experience. Our people need periodic times of intense spiritual focus. Our people need intentional times of community prayer. Our people need the spiritual structure.

Now, I do think we could manage to update the facilities a little (as well as some of the music choices and sermon styles), but there is something of the simplicity of open air tabernacles and 2x4 pews that provide the space that many will never otherwise get to reconnect with God in an intentional way.

Tim said...

In NC West, we sold our camp (Shady Grove) and up sprang 5 or 6 regional area revivals. Their combined attendance is far greater than when we had a single camp AND perhaps more importantly,, far more lay people are involved in ushering, choirs, music, etc. than before. We've bought new land in the Mountains and are developing a retreat and conference center. We have a District Campmeeting again but it is primarily attended by those who live nearby and the regional camps continue to thrive.

There's this: Attendance at the Regional Camps is tied pretty closely to the popularity of thepreacher. It seems the attraction used to be fellowship or God's presence or something else.

Thanks, too for the three Pilgrim articles. Very helpful. You're right, in membership class, I only tell the slavery side. I won't do that now.

Anonymous said...

sad to say that many campmeetings are no longer "meetings" but vacations and play time. Where do we go for spiritual feasting?? I grew up going to "God's Holiness Grove" camp in Sunbury PA and now it is totally gone and is replaced with Willow Lake which is more like a good time. The Pilgrims (Midwest and New York)and the God's Missionary churches still have campmeeting like the old days.