Campmeeting a fam­ily tra­di­tion

The Covington News - - News - A.J. Archer ajarcher@cov­news.com

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.”

A.J. Archer/The Cov­ing­ton News

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.

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