Nurturing the Camp Meeting Experience

August 23, 2018 | Heidi Baumgartner

The guest services phone line rang consistently before and during Washington Adventist Camp Meeting with requests for lodging and general camp meeting information. Days before camp meeting started, all but 85 reservation sites were claimed out of 668 possible sites — and those sites were going fast.

“The level of interest was incredible this year,” reports Gayle Lasher, whose team handles lodging reservations. “We asked people why they were coming, and the response we kept hearing was: ‘We’re coming to experience camp meeting.’ We had just as many returning attendees as newcomers this year.”

Experience carries many levels of meaning to each person, so we asked camp meeting attendees what they liked best about camp meeting.

“We like ice cream and our meetings,” say two young siblings who came with their grandmother.

The brother added, “I like swimming, and I just learned how to swim.”

“My favorite things about camp meeting are the friends, the food, the games,” says Vinny, a preteen from Bonney Lake, Wash.

Best friends Maia and Madeline, age 10, from Puyallup, Wash., assisted with the beginners 2 program. “I like hanging out with my friends, walking around campus, hearing stories at my meetings, and this is my first year actually tenting,” says Madeline.

“It’s really nice to hang out with new kids every single day,” adds Maia.

Brennan, a teenager from Sumner, Wash., helped with camp meeting security and parking and says, “I like helping people here at camp meeting and giving them hope about Jesus’ return.”

“My best memory was going to the prayer tent with my grandson, praying for our family and having God answer our prayers,” says a 30-year camp meeting attendee from the Greater Seattle area.

“I love the fellowship with like believers,” says Cheryl Burke, a day attendee from Sumner. “The different meetings available — like relationship topics, the grieving class and the Bible classes — are just amazing.”

“Interacting with people, seeing kids’ face when they make something in Pathfinders and singing songs about Jesus — that’s what’s special about camp meeting,” says Donna Meador, a teacher from the Chehalis, Wash., area.

“I’ve seen lots of people that, if I didn’t come to camp meeting, I wouldn’t see them at all,” says Rich Roberts, from the Kirkland, Wash., area. “It’s fun to visit with people and see where they’ve been.”

“Camp meeting is like family reunion, it’s like alumni homecoming, it’s a spiritual retreat, and it’s all of the best of those rolled into one,” says David Candler, a longtime children’s ministry leader from Graham, Wash. “I heard a child say, ‘Mommy, camp meeting is like a little bit of heaven.’”

“My favorite thing about camp meeting is being together with God’s people,” says Craig Carr, Washington Conference vice president for administration and camp meeting coordinator. “The camp meeting experience will live on through remembering the ‘By Our Love’ theme song, the seminar materials, underlined Bible texts heard during messages and realizing that God’s love is revealed by our actions.”