I had a good chuckle when my friend posted about her son’s amazement at people actually camping during campmeeting.
This summer will mark ten years since I spent the whole ten days of campmeeting sleeping in my beloved “homeless shelter” type dome tent under the stars and quaking aspens. A heap of blankets and thick pajamas protected my body from the cold night air.
Some of my brightest childhood memories include the dusty paths of Redwood Campmeeting. From editing sermons in what we lovingly dubbed the “Tape Place,” to belting out praise songs in to the dusk under the redwood trees. It was also where I learned some of the most foundational truths of a successful Christian experience, such as salvation by faith.
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The tradition of campmeeting started in England and Scotland by Protestant Christians and became increasingly popular during the Second Great Awaking of the early 19th century. Christians came together to hear great preaching, sing hymns, and enjoy religious worship.
Adventism grew from the Second Great Awakening, thus campmeeting would be an integral part of our tradition. A place where we meet to attend sermons and seminars on biblical principles, healthier lifestyles, practical living, and other topics to inspire a rich and holistic Christian experience. Campmeeting can still be a tremendous blessing and an enriching experience.
Here are 5 things that you are missing out on if you have never been to campmeeting:
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
There’s something special about living out doors. Yes, it’s hard. Mice might chew up your camping chairs. Flies might land in your cornflakes on Sabbath morning. Your quarters might run out in the shower. Watermelon bugs might inhabit your tent. Ticks might leap of the tall grass onto your head. You might have to brave the port-a-potty. You’ll have to find creative ways to keep yourself cool without A/C. Yet, it humbles you. It brings you closer to God and others. And who knows, it just might prepare you for the end times!
At campmeeting we are challenged when out of our comfort zones.
“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow…”
Some one might point out that you can make friends, hear great sermons and get inspired at GYC or the One Project. Not to mention that you’ll be in a cushy hotel. However, those convocations are generally for young people. Campmeeting isn’t limited to young people. It’s a family event. Every age group is represented.
At campmeeting we chatted on the makeshift porch of the grandmas and grandpas. We helped our mid-aged friends set up their tents. We took our little toddler friends to play in the creek. We attacked the older teens with water balloons. We helped the pastors set up camp. We volunteered at Juniors recreation time. We were all there together for each other. Almost like heaven.
At campmeeting we have a unique opportunity to connect with all generations.
“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
― John Joseph Powell
There’s nothing like 10 days of living in tent city to create lasting friendships. Epic water fights would break out to help us survive the heat. We would potluck together. We found watermelon bugs in our tents and discovered that they hissed. We terrified each other with lizards. We trekked up Poison Oak Creek for a Sabbath Hike. We danced the conga line to “Undignified.” We covered ourselves with Sharpie ink, mascara and eyeliner to depict the struggle between good and evil and Jesus’ redemptive power. We got kicked out of the men’s powder room by a hatchet-wielding security guard.
Some of us met our future husbands and wives at campmeeting. Now some of us are married. Some even have kids. Best of all, some of us are still friends despite being spread out all over the country. We still come over to visit. We still chat on Facebook.
At campmeeting, we cultivate deep, life-long relationships.
Special Closeness With God
“Nature testifies of God. The susceptible mind, brought in contact with the miracle and mystery of the universe, cannot but recognize the working of infinite power.”
— Ellen G. White
Nature is God’s second book to us. As we absorb the handiwork of God, we learn of him in a very special way. Hence, Jesus drew many of his object lessons in his teachings directly from nature. What better way to enjoy the presence of God, than to spend some undiluted time in nature?
Worshiping God in the beauty of nature is simply a different experience. There’s something mesmerizing about belting out “We are Soldiers” under a canopy of redwood trees. The stories from Norma Youngberg’s Nyla and the White Crocodile read by Pastor Nathan in the darkness of the forest night will be forever imprinted into my memory. I won’t ever forget sitting beside the Eel River with my other pre-teen friends and the pastors. Someone had a guitar and our voices rose in the cool morning air. Then, there were the tearful morning prayer meetings as I grappled with the complications of being a teenager.
We can experience God a special way at campmeeting.
Unique Spiritual Growth
“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
— C.S. Lewis
Back when I went to campmeeting we didn’t have anything like Adventist Preaching or AudioVerse. We would record sermons and burn them unto CDs, MP3s and cassette tapes (yeah, those things were a thing back in the day). Since I worked at the “Tape Place,” I had access to a wealth of sermons on various topics. It was through Pastor Clarissa Sproul’s sermons that I learned that I could only obtain salvation by faith in Jesus and that God would make me perfect little by little. It was through Herb Montgomery’s sermons that I was able to see God for the loving god that He is. Of course, there’s nothing like hearing the great preachers like Jose Rojas in person.
I grew up in a tiny country-side church with few people our age. It was refreshing to get together with other youth. Some of the highlights were creating inspiring mimes and performances with the youth tent drama team. I also had the opportunity to pray with Jose Rojas before his sermon with my prayer group.
One of the best things about Campmeeting was learning from others how to have a better relationship with Jesus. We got CDs of Scripture Songs from Pastor Derek Morris which I still sing today. My appetite for mission stories was sparked by the nightly story time at the Junior Tent. We learned to sing new songs. Then, I was able to bring back what I learned from the drama team to my own church.
During campmeeting, we have the opportunity to grow in a special way.
For these reasons, I encourage you to get out that tent and head to campmeeting this summer! You’ll be blessed.
Do you have some favorite memories from campmeeting? Feel free to share!