Hortense Camp

in the Wesleyan tradition

100 Years Celebration: 1904 - 2004

Rev. Arnold Beard

(Former pastor of the Hortense Wesleyan Church)

I have been asked to write concerning my time spent at the Hortense Camp.  It is a real privilege to share my memories.

My family and I were in the parsonage for a total of three years as pastor in Hortense.  Some of our best memories revolve around the camp.  God blessed in many ways during our time there.  I saw many people blessed of God and many who found real help at the camp.

I remember the hours we would spend along with many others preparing for camp meeting time.  The raking, the cleaning, and the praying, and meeting in order that all would be prepared, was a good time of fellowship and bonding together.

I served as camp president for one year while pastoring in Hortense.  This was a great year at the camp.  I recall telling the board that I refused to beg for money.  The board agreed.  But after about the third or fourth night some people came to me and tried to get me to change my mind about this.  They said, "We need the money to meet the expenses".  But I had committed this to the Lord and I was going to trust Him to meet the needs.  The following night, four people came to me and almost demanded that I stress the need for money or we were going to be in trouble by the end of the camp meeting.  I said, "I didn't ask for this position.  If either of you wish to state the need, please feel free to do so, but I can't."  God blessed in every service and I would receive the offering but would not press for more.  As God often does, He more than supplied the needs of the camp that year.  We were blessed in so many ways.  At the end of camp meeting, the treasurer reported that all bills were paid and there was some money left over.  As a matter of fact, the treasurer reported that what was left was the most the camp had had in the treasury ever according to the records.  God certainly did bless in that meeting.

Another memory is on the funny side.  I was young then and full of energy, and spent a lot of time with the young people of the community, especially at the camp.  As you might guess, we were up to a little harmless mischief.  

The evangelist, Rev. Dick Whitener, was staying in one of the cabins.  He liked to take a walk each day.  This particular morning, some of the youth from the Hortense Church went along.  We got a into a discussion about the huge rattlesnakes in the area.  An idea was born.  Some of the young people, I'll not call names, but you know who you are, killed a big rattler.  While we were walking, they sneaked back to Brother Whitener's cabin and placed the snake under his bed in a position that it could not be missed as he came into the cabin.  When he walked into the room, he didn't notice the snake until he sat on the bed to take off his shoes.  He looked down and saw the coiled snake.  What a show he put on!!!  He ran out of the cabin about half dressed, in a hurry to be somewhere else.  You could have heard him yelling all the way to Waycross.  It took some time and effort to convince Brother Whitener that the snake was already dead and could do him no harm.  When he found out that I had something to do with it, he threatened my life.  Sure glad we had been friends for a long time.

My children have fond memories of the camp as well.  Often we have talked about the camp and the great times we shared while there.  The years we spent in Hortense were great times.  The times at the camp were wonderful times for us all.  We all have fond memories of those times.