It’s 10 days that give them a chance to see people they don’t get to see any other time of year, an opportunity for fellowship with loved ones and a way to worship in the great outdoors.
Now in the middle of the 148th camp meeting held at Morrison Campground, the attendees span generations and bring an old-fashioned approach into the modern world.
“There are no televisions out here, minimal cellphone reception and, obviously, no air conditioning,” said Nic Snow, as he gestures at a box fan set up on the porch of his family’s cabin.
Snow has been coming to the camp since he was just a baby. In fact, his mother, Nancy Snow, tells the story of how her son, in his striped sleeper suit, was resting in his baby carrier and had a photo taken of him by a photographer from the Rome News-Tribune, 37 years ago, when he was just 6 weeks old.
Now, he makes the trip yearly from Spartanburg, South Carolina, with his wife and children.
“I grew up coming here,” Nic Snow said. “I was here at 6 weeks old, I was here as a child catching frogs in the creek and riding a bike and now as an adult, I bring my children and speak during the services.”
His sister Neely Whiteside also grew up coming to Morrison Campground every year for the camp meeting, she said.
“I love seeing everyone,” she said. “It is a way to get away from the modern world. You don’t pay attention to the hard things happening, you stay here and get a break from all of that.”
The time they’ve spent at the campground has changed their lives for the better, they agree.
“I do feel different,” said Nic Snow. “When I grew up here, I woke up and I’d visit every single one of these cabins and have breakfast.”
He laughs and gestures around the wide circle bordered by dozens of cabins surrounding the center arbor where worship services are held.
“Every door was open,” he added. “You knew when you came that you brought groceries for everyone. We still do that. Kids roam around and everyone watches out for each other.”
Emma Robinson is attending her first-ever camp meeting with her fiance, Caleb Freeman.
“It is relaxing,” she said. “It can be hot, too, but it is always entertaining. I will definitely come back.”
Freeman nodded as she said that.
“It’s kind of a rule for me and some of the others,” he said, smiling. “If you aren’t willing to come here every year, a relationship isn’t going to work. We are right on the line between dead serious and joking about that.”
Freeman is spending his 12th year at the camp. “This is my favorite time of the year,” he said. “This is pretty much the best place in the world. There’s no news channels, no computers, you can just focus on the simple things.”
As the 11 a.m. worship service begins, Margaret Grogan and her daughters, Nancy Creel and Trina Dean, took time to explain their love for the campground.
“I have been coming since I got married 48 years ago,” Grogan said. “We bought a cabin in 1985.”
Creel explained the whole place “is like family.”
“I love having the worship outside,” she said, “even though it is hot. You have a chance to get back to nature.”
The public is welcome to attend the daily services at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., running through Sunday morning. The free Vacation Bible School for ages 4 to 12 runs 10:30 a.m. to noon through Friday. Click here to see a Google map of Morrison Campground.
Vacation Bible School students will perform songs and speak about what they learn throughout the week during a performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
An activity day with water slides will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and is open to the public as well.