Rev. Phil & Vonda Harrington
(Camp evangelist in 1978 and 1982; Camp musicians in 1978, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1994 and 2000)
When the Harrington family arrived in Hortense, Georgia, for camp meeting for the very first time, we thought we had come to the end of the world! We knew that we certainly were in "the sticks"!
We were definitely not prepared for the damp, extreme heat. It rained every afternoon and/or evening, which cooled the temperature. But during each day, the sun would pull the moisture up out of the ground, and we were so hot that it hardly did any good to take a shower.
Because we had two little boys (David, six months, and Philip, three years), we were blessed to be allowed to use Iris Smith's room, which was larger than most of the rooms. But no matter how large the space, it was a struggle to stay organized, in either mind or body, with the oppressive heat.
It was so hot that we decided it might help if we would buy a fan. Our reasoning was that at least we could get our skin dry enough to get clothes on. But upon purchase of the fan, we discovered that the wiring was so poor that the fan would only run on low speed, even when it was set on high.
Philip especially loved the floor of the tabernacle. It was a small boy's dream to have straw on the floor in which to play during services!
Philip and David were quickly "adopted" by everyone, including Mrs. Clyde Bryant, the evangelist's wife. She was a big help and watched the boys while Mommy was occupied up front.
The dampness affected the piano drastically. After the first few days of camp, the keys of the piano began to stick. By the end of camp, some of the keys had to be physically pulled up before they would strike again. This certainly slowed the speed of the songs! Perhaps the condition of the piano kept everyone guessing. After all, did the pianist good, or was it the piano?
And then there was the okra! We had never had okra before, in any form, and having it boiled was certainly an experience. What made it even more memorable was when the leftovers from one meal were combined with new for the next. Slimy okra is something one must adapt to! I don't think we ever managed adapting to it.
In spite of our difficulty with the weather, and the food changes, we made permanent friends at that first camp, friendships that have endured a lifetime. Who would have dreamed that at the end of our years in evangelism we would settle in Brunswick, Georgia!
We have continued to make yearly trips to Hortense for camp meeting. Now we enjoy air-conditioned rooms, a carpet on the floor, and many other modern things. But the real reason we come to camp is to visit with long-time friends and meet with the Lord. We would keep coming back for more no matter what the camp conditions were like.
We still worship in the heat and rain, but it doesn't matter. Camp has always been a life-changing experience. This year will be no different.