Do you live near a camp-meeting town?
June 19, 2016 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I have an ongoing research project to document and map locations of camp meetings, which originate in 19th century religious revivals. I've mapped more than 50 (listed inside), including some famous ones like Oak Bluffs, MA, Bay View, MI, and Indian Springs, GA, and am now looking for others. I'm interested in three kinds of sites: current active camp-meetings that still operate as a religious camp or revival; "legacy" sites where the camp meeting evolved into a town or incorporated secular association; and defunct sites where a camp once was before being abandoned. Any and all links, vague memories, and coordinates welcome!

The Chatauqua movement is also associated - so if you know of any Chatauqua sites or hybrid camp meeting/Chatauquas like Bay View, I'm all ears for that too! Also, I'm concentrating on the US movement but would be glad to know of camp meetings in other countries, too. Thanks all.

Here's the list of places I currently know of:
Canada: Grimsby Beach
Australia: Ocean Grove
California: Pacific Grove
Connecticut: Willimantic, Camp Bethel, Bolton
Delaware: Careys Camp, Rehoboth Beach
Georgia: Shingle Roof, Indian Springs, Smyrna, Effingham, Indian Fields, Holbrook, Lumpkin, Tattnall, Poplar Springs, Pine Log, Morrison's, Marietta, Covington
Illinois: Lake Bluff
Kentucky: Cane Ridge
Maine: Old Orchard Beach, Ocean Park, Empire Grove,
Maryland: Denton, Washington Grove
Massachusetts: Cadmans Neck, Douglas, Craigville, Smith Mills, Oak Bluffs, Asbury Grove, On-I-Set, Onset Community of Christ,
Michigan: Bay View
New Hampshire: Alton Bay, Weirs Beach, Exeter
New Jersey: Ocean Grove, Ocean City, Seaville, Cape May Point, Malaga, Atlantic Highlands, Delanco, Pitman Grove, Groveille, Island Heights, Mt. Tabor, Seaside Park
New York: Campwoods, Sea Cliff, North Merrick, Shelter Island Heights, Round Lake
North Carolina: Rock Springs,
Pennsylvania: Summit Grove, Patterson Grove, Bowman Park, Island Grove, Mt. Gretna, Chester Heights, Mt. Lebanon, Landisville, HIghland Park
Rhode Island: Portsmouth
Virginia: Wharton Grove

(Note: I asked a similar question six years ago but would like to try again, as much more is now online.)
posted by Miko to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
North Battleford SAskatchewan had a long standing pentacostal one, and the Adventist conference still has one in the foothlls of Alberta. I know a lot about the North Battleford one, so if you wanted to memil me that would be fine.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:02 AM on June 19, 2016

Bayside, Maine. Category 2, in the town of Northport, between Belfast and Campden. Originally a Methodist camp. Mrs. Beagle and I rented a cottage there a few years ago — very peaceful and I nice base of operations for exploring mid-coast Maine.
posted by beagle at 10:03 AM on June 19, 2016

Also this paper might have some more info for you.
posted by beagle at 10:04 AM on June 19, 2016

And, there were two in Vermont, in Montpelier and Northfield.
posted by beagle at 10:06 AM on June 19, 2016

There's one in Johnson, Vermont called Ithiel Falls Camp Meeting. They have a website which seems to be down at the moment. Here is some information about their 2014 meeting and here is their 2015 brochure.
posted by Redstart at 10:07 AM on June 19, 2016

Chautauqua, Boulder, CO.
posted by cecic at 10:10 AM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's one right down the road from me here in West Texas, the Paisano Baptist Encampment
posted by attentionplease at 10:13 AM on June 19, 2016

I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but the Methodists have a camp meeting site at Lake Okoboji in Iowa. (Lake Okoboji is a popular summer resort area.) I think that it was an early 20th century attempt to revive the idea of camp meetings, though, rather than something that evolved organically from earlier camp meetings. It looks to me based on this local history from 1902 that there probably were Methodist camp meetings at Okoboji in the 19th century, but not at that exact spot, and they had died out some time before the Methodist "camp meeting" site was set up in 1915.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:15 AM on June 19, 2016

The one I find most intriguing is Lily Dale, NY, which has evolved into a spiritualist mecca filled with purported mediums. There was an HBO documentary on it called No One Dies in Lily Dale.
posted by cecic at 10:17 AM on June 19, 2016

Have you looked at Holy Ground, Too: The Camp Meeting Family Tree (by Kenneth O. Brown, 1998)? Supposedly it contains a list of 3000 camp meeting sites worldwide:

The book is divided into three parts. Part one is the story of the camp meeting family tree, and it is a well-documented account. Part two is a bibliography of camp meeting materials, and there are 2263 entries. Part three is an historical table of more than 3000 sites world-wide. The book is well-illustrated with photographs by Wendy Erickson.

Kenneth Brown sadly passed away in 2009, or you might have wanted to contact him. He founded "Holiness Archives, a publishing enterprise devoted to research of camp meetings," but I don't know whether it's still active.

There is also this online directory of currently active camp meetings:
posted by crazy with stars at 10:18 AM on June 19, 2016

There's an Adventist camp in Mechanic Falls, Maine, not far from Empire Grove.
posted by Knappster at 10:21 AM on June 19, 2016

There's Brandywine Summit Camp Meeting in Pennsylvania. Also the Delaware Historical Society has some information on African-American camp meetings in Delaware.
posted by interplanetjanet at 10:43 AM on June 19, 2016

Seventh-day Adventists still do campmeetings in (almost?) every state "conference" every summer. I live near the Wisconsin site outside of Westfield and have attended many times. coincidentally i was just over there this morning. Campmeeting every summer (in NY) was part of my childhood. What would you like to know?
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:49 AM on June 19, 2016

Sorry, i just re-read your question. I can post better info when i get to my desk Monday.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 11:22 AM on June 19, 2016

I think that Montreat, NC and Ridgecrest, NC fit either 1 or 2 depending on some of your definitions. Western NC was full of these sort of places. Other NC candidates that I know less about but that might fit your definitions: Lake Junaluska and Blue Ridge Assembly
posted by hydropsyche at 11:42 AM on June 19, 2016

Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, in Florida.
posted by jon1270 at 12:00 PM on June 19, 2016

Northfield, Massachusetts
posted by Jahaza at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2016

Chautauqua, Sac City, Iowa. I have been to many events there, including re-created Chautauqua-type events. DPLA has many images & texts about the Chautauqua movement.

Minnesota Methodists had camp meetings at Red Rock.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 12:54 PM on June 19, 2016

Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay (pop. 700, only accessible by ferry) used to host Methodist camps and still has a very strong Methodist tradition. You might be interested in learning more about the "Parson of the Islands" who was behind a lot of it.
posted by whitewall at 1:11 PM on June 19, 2016

Salem camp meeting in Covington, ga. Biggest and oldest in state I believe. Emory did a documentary about it a few years ago... I believe it's on the website. My family "tents"
Every year.
posted by pearlybob at 1:38 PM on June 19, 2016

Fabulous and helpful answers, everyone - thank you, and please keep them coming! Many are new to me.

It is ridiculous that I haven't read Holy Ground, Too - I've known about it forever but since it is slightly more expensive, had not splurged on it yet. I don't think I realized it contained a database, but now that I'm aware of that, I will send for it. It'll be interesting to compare and follow its threads to help build my map.

Another excellent book on the grounds and architecture of CMs is Ellen Weiss' City in the Woods.
posted by Miko at 1:44 PM on June 19, 2016

The Monteagle Assembly, in Monteagle, Tennessee.
posted by devinemissk at 4:10 PM on June 19, 2016

Chautauqua, Illinois
posted by LoveHam at 5:57 PM on June 19, 2016

Laurel Park in Hatfield, MA
posted by plinth at 6:11 PM on June 19, 2016

Others in Georgia: Dooly Campground, in Dooly County, a still-active Methodist camp meeting, and Taylor Campground, in Taylor County, a Holiness camp meeting that still meets, but it isn't a 19th century camp--only began in the 1930s.
posted by stanbrown32 at 6:54 PM on June 19, 2016

I'm not sure exactly if this fits the criteria, but Seventh Day Adventists have something they call a camp-meeting, and one happens in Gladstone, Oregon (19800 Oatfield, Road, Gladstone, OR 97027).

I grew up very close to there for many years, and if you'd like details you can memail me, but mostly its also a giant pain in the ass when it happens each year. Mostly because there's a huge influx of people and the local infrastructure isn't really set up for them. There's also a serious uptick in aggressive door-to-door proselytizing.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2016

Winona Lake, IN.
posted by michaelh at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2016

Laurel Park is actually in Northampton, MA (tho the Hatfield town line is a stone's throw away). I lived there and owned a house there for eight years until last July, and I was active in the Laurel Park Association, which is a non-profit dedicated to continuing the kinds of Chautaqua-ish events the camp held more than 125 years ago. I know a fair amount about the place. Feel free to message me to learn more.
posted by chowflap at 8:05 PM on June 19, 2016
posted by vespabelle at 9:18 PM on June 19, 2016

There's a Pentecostal camp meeting/campground in Louisiana - Tiaoga, LA, I believe. I'm pretty sure there's a Pentecostal camp meeting/campground in pretty much every state. I could probably get a decent list together of the Pentecostal ones, but it would take a few days. Memail if interested.
posted by TurquoiseZebra at 11:21 PM on June 19, 2016

I don't know if your focus is more on the northeast and midwest, which has some different traditions, but the southeast is pretty full up on extreme religious traditions. I'm not affiliated with either example, but based on FB "likes" I do know someone affiliated with the South Alabama example (2nd link):

This one in Hartselle Alabama claims to have been going on annually for over 100 years:

(the referenced page is their history page - looks like they didn't use search-friendly links in their CMS)

This campground has been around as long as I've been driving by it on I-65. It's a large, modern campsite with metal buildings, permanent covered meeting areas, etc.:

posted by randomkeystrike at 6:25 AM on June 20, 2016

Camp Chesterfield, near Anderson, Indiana, is a Spiritualist camp founded in the late nineteenth century.
posted by percolatrix at 7:02 AM on June 20, 2016

Yes, I'm interested in the entire USA, and in any and all religious traditions - nothing is really too out there for inclusion, as I'm interested in the form and historical evolution. Thanks!
posted by Miko at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2016

In PA,
posted by Dashy at 6:13 PM on June 20, 2016

After checking, it turns out the only example I have for you is South Lancaster, Mass. All the others I had in mind have moved periodically so are not tied to specific communities.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 7:47 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm interested in them as physical places, though - so if there was, for instance, a site that was a camp meeting for years a century ago but has moved since, I would still like to document it. If it's more of a thing of moving from church to church year after year, though, I think I would not need to document that geographically.
posted by Miko at 8:26 AM on June 24, 2016

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