Family Camp is a tradition that is part of my life blood - - - so familiar to me that I forgot others may not have a CLUE what I'm talking about. When I say Family Camp, I am not talking simply of a local church congregation having a camping weekend. Those are wonderful - - - but this isn't that.
Family Camps grew out of the really really old tradition of Camp Meetings. Originally Camp Meetings were days or week(s) long preaching events held under a tent or a brush arbor and people drove in by covered wagons or other animal drawn conveyances and literally camped around the preaching shelter.
Later groups developed slightly more permanent encampments. These consisted of a permanent structure called a tabernacle which housed the preaching. Eventually shelters in which people could sleep were also constructed.
Our denomination, the Wesleyan Church, is divided up into regions or areas called districts. Historically, most or all districts built a campgrounds for the purpose of holding annual camp meetings and youth camps. (In this district we annually have a kids camp, a junior high camp, a senior high camp and family camp.) Back in the days before easy access to entertainment, these camps boomed.
In many places now, the cost of maintaining a campgrounds, insurance and health regulations, and changing of people's interests have made Camp Meetings go by the wayside. Even many of our own Wesleyan Districts have sold their campgrounds and ceased holding camp.
In our district, Camp Meeting evolved into Family Camp. We still have the spiritual emphasis of group worship times, be we have incorporated family-friendly activities into the schedule as well. I'm happy to say that during my LONG tenure on the Family Camp Committee, I helped to initiate that change by suggesting we were going to lose our camp if we didn't change from a Camp Meeting into a Family Camp. I was promptly made the chairman of the programming committee - - - for which I have my big mouth to thank.
I was very short sighted, however. I was only envisioning KEEPING what we had by making it more family friendly to folks who already enjoy camping in state parks etc. I will tell you, that when I returned this year I was quite SHOCKED at the popularity our camp now enjoys - - - but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
Camp is a place where life long friendships are forged, and old friendships are renewed. It is a place where people who worship God and wish to instill godly principles in their children gather for encouragement and help on that journey.
Many of my friends met their spouse at camp. Many, myself included, put down spiritual roots at camp - - - committing their lives to the Lord. Some, including my own mother, were BORN on the campgrounds DURING camp. For the length of camp, BEING a christian and GROWING spiritually IS the POPULAR lifestyle. There is that short time of drawing away from the rest of life - - - and the results can be amazing.
The main purpose of my post today is to show you where people stay at our campgrounds in Fairmount, Indiana.
The first option is a dorm room. The fee for staying in a dorm is very minimal - - - I believe it's $3/night. We have dorm rooms available to teens, with counselor supervision, and to families as well.
The teens in our district love camp so much that many of them return, without their parents, for family camp. Other teens, not wishing to be under their parents nose for the week (uh, that would be MY kids when they were still living at home - - - what am I talking about, that was ME back in the teen day) also choose the dorm option.
Families may also rent dorm space at a family rate. There are enough dorms on this grounds to have separate dorms for families so they don't have to share in the noise and exuberance of the teen dorms.
Other families have purchased small cottages on the grounds. You own the cottage itself, but not the land upon which it sits. You pay a small annual maintenance fee and then you may use your cottage whenever during the summer you so wish. (Most are not winterized.) We have rows - - -
And rows of family cottages at Fairmount. Some are old, having been passed down in a certain family for generations, and are dearly loved. Others are brand new and just beginning the family tradition.
I love to wander among them and see all the cuteness. Some people have gone to great lengths to make their cottage a tiny, decorated home.
For several years one of the camp activities offered was a "Cottage Tour of Homes." It was AWESOME!!! If they were having that THIS year, I'd go around with my trusty little digi-cam and show you some cute interiors. I do have some friends with cottages - - - I'll see what I can do about getting some interior pictures for all of you who are saying, "I WANT TO SEE THE INSIDE!!!"
Then we have people who bring their own camper or tent and actually CAMP right on the grounds.
This is the part that SHOCKED me when I returned this year. Our camp sites are literally JAMMED full!!!!
When I first started camping out here with our family - - - there were empty sites all over the place. Oh, my dear friends, that is NOT the case any more. There are campers in every nook and cranny. I heard we've had RECORD attendances this year - - - and I can BELIEVE it.
Of course, I am one of those campers. Here is my little home away from home - - - this time with no SUV in my living room!!!
I have MORE camp stuff to share - - - so tune into this station again!