What Camp Meeting Is All About

August 27, 2018 | Dick Duerksen

Camp meeting. It was never really about camping.

Through the years, thousands of God’s children have Come to Meeting with pup-tents, family tents, funny little bicycle tents, trailers, campers, motor homes and even an occasional sleeping bag rolled out on an ancient army blanket.

But it’s never really been about camping.

This is where many of us make our finest lifelong friends.

Where we eat Pronto Pups and laugh with new friends.

It’s where primary and junior campers watch the Bird Man, or the Reptile Man, or wait for the Mad Scientist to blow up the tent.

It’s about playing Rook in the RV. Dipping ice cream for a thousand customers. Riding in a golf cart with LeRoy. Buying books at the ABC. Finding the love of your life.

There’s a rumor going around that the first time our pastor and his wife held hands was after the evening program in the youth tent at camp meeting!

Camp meeting. No, it has never really been about camping.

Although, because we were camping, we got to eat “camp food” for a whole week. You know, haystacks on top of haystacks. What a wild way to get kids to eat salads — just pile the green onto Fritos!

Luckily we have Michelin-quality culinary experts in our cafeteria. Awesome food at affordable prices. Wonder if they’ve ever thought of starting a chain of vegetarian restaurants … .

Then there are Mom’s baked beans, Gram’s potato salad and many family potlucks under the trees. 

Let’s go back to the haystacks for a minute. Did you know there’s a right way — and a hundred wrong ways — to make the stack?

Camp meeting is Tillamook ice cream in the morning, Mexican sweet corn at noon, flavored ice a couple times during the heat of the day and handmade vegeburgers for dinner.

And mountain huckleberry ice cream — with Pronto Pups — after the meeting.

All this incredible cuisine is made possible by an army of volunteer cooks, bakers, stirrers, dippers, slingers, stabbers, money-takers and table-cleaners.

Camp meeting. It was never really about eating.

Hearing the words … camp meeting … fills my mind with memories of long lines for the showers, steamy hot afternoons, stinky mosquito repellent and nights with a squillion blinking stars. 

It takes work, lots of work, by an army of more than 400 volunteers, investing their skills — and time — to pull camp meeting together for us.

Security officers, leaders for the kids’ departments, nurses in the clinic, cooks in the cafeteria, shelf-stockers in the ABC, audio and video and lighting people in every tent around the grounds. Why, there must be a volunteer for everything except making sure I remember to get up in time for the morning meetings.

You know what gets me up in the morning? The singing!

Maybe camp meeting is really about the singing. Jaime Jorge brought his violin last year. Another year I heard Del Delker sing with the King's Heralds. The Heritage Singers another year. And, once again, the Oregon Men's Chorus was a hit.

This year’s music included Pastor Randy with his guitar. Pastor Wilson with his harmonica. The Big Lake Camp staff on the platform in "The Big Tent," a school choir and a vocalist who could win any night on America’s Got Talent.

One evening the juniors sang about 400 verses of "We Are One in the Spirit," just so they could keep holding hands

Remember the year the power went out and no one could remember the third verse of "Redeemed"?

Camp meeting. It was never really about camping.

Maybe camp meeting’s about preaching.

I sure have heard some awesome sermons. One pastor talked about how Grandma will one day water ski on the Sea of Glass. Another made the Second Coming so real I could feel my feet rising. 

Dan Jackson reminded me of why I am an Adventist

José Rojas made me smile, cry, laugh and dedicate my life to God. And that was just in his first sermon.

Don Schneider’s stories of faith made me cry — tears of love for the God who cares about ME!

Dad Linrud made me proud to be in the Oregon Conference.

Camp meeting includes a variety of preaching: Bible stories for the kids and expository sermons for the aged. Sometimes, Bible stories for the adults too. Or, dramas of Martin Luther!

For many of us, camp meeting is where we hear grace so clearly that we ask God to forgive — and write our names in His book.

No, camp meeting isn’t really about camping, or eating, or singing, or even holding hands.

Camp meeting is all about Jesus.

Making friends with Him.

Learning to know Him better.

Discovering new ways of serving Him.

And better ways of sharing His love with others.

Camp meeting. It’s all about loving being loved … by God.

Watch this year's camp meeting wrap-up video on Vimeo.