Camp meetings have been a tradition in protestantism for more than 200 years. For some on the American frontier, they were a welcome opportunity for spiritual revival and social interaction for believers otherwise isolated in their rural settings. When the Adventist church sent two pastors, J. N. Loughborough and D. T. Bourdeau, to California in 1868, they made sure to send a large tent with them. Working their way north from San Francisco, Loughborough and Bourdeau had great success with tent meetings in Petaluma, Windsor, Piner, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg.
Today, camp meetings still provide unique opportunities for spiritual revival and social interaction. Buggies and wagons have yielded to cars and RVs, and canvas often is replaced by rip-stop nylon or more permanent structures, but the experience of stepping away from one’s daily grind to rub elbows with other believers in a concentrated focus on relationship with God still fills an important need in our hearts.
Though Paradise no longer hosts a camp meeting as it did in the mid-20th century, there are a number of events within driving distance (see list in the sidebar). Why not take advantage of one of these camp meetings and experience a modern version of an honored tradition. You may come away agreeing with J. N. Loughborough that: “None of us, it seems to me, can doubt the utility and practicability of good camp-meetings. They are almost indispensable to the work of our cause.”