Campmeeting a family tradition
For Ansley and Reba Ogletree, the Salem Campmeeting has been a tradition in their family since 1828.
“My great-great-grandfather was one of the first attendees when the campmeetings first began here,” Ansley said.
Ansley is on the board of trustees at the campmeeting and stays in a tent — a small, white, cottage-like building — that houses four generations of his family including: his wife, daughter, grandson and great-grandson.
“It’s like a big family reunion,” Reba said. “The children keep carrying on the tradition and it is a big part of our summer.”
The campmeetings hold a special place for the couple, who have been married for almost 60 years.
“Our first date was here at the Salem Campground,” Ansley said.
This year’s campmeeting begins Friday and continues through July 15 at the grounds off Salem Road. The event will feature Bible classes Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. and various praise activities, including music and sermons.
The campmeeting is not part of a church and is interdenominational. The preachers in attendance will be Don Martin of Alpharetta and Brian Dunks of Waco, Texas.
The Ogletree family travels 368 miles from North Carolina each year to come to the campmeeting. Through the years they have seen some changes.
“It used to be that you could walk around the whole campground without touching the ground because everyone’s
porches touched,” Reba said.
The Ogletrees have encamped in several tents as the years have progressed.
“ We used to have the cottage next door to the one we own now, and before that we had one closer to the front of the entrance,” Ansley said.
Their current house was rebuilt in 1987 due to its age, but the family kept some things just as they were in the past.
“ The wall partitions don’t touch the ceiling and we use curtains instead of doors,” he pointed out. “ We put floors down instead of the traditional wood shavings that covered the floor.”
Through all of the changes, one thing stays the same: The enthusiasm of the campers.
“ There are about 200 people in the classes we put on in the mornings,” he said. “ There are still about 100 bicycles that ride by in the mornings. When they’re all in the parking lot, you can’t even drive through.”
Ansley and Reba Ogletree had their first date at the Salem Campmeeting almost 60 years ago. Their families have been attending the camps since 1828.