Hortense Camp

in the Wesleyan tradition

100 Years Celebration: 1904 - 2004

Rev. Steven Wright

(Camp musician in 1970)

Thank you for your invitation to attend the 100th anniversary celebration of the camp.  I have nothing but the fondest memories of Hortense and the dear people near there who made their ways from surrounding towns and cities to that remote area for such a fabulous spiritual event.

As a pastor at the Wesleyan Church in Savannah, I had the joy of driving over and finding a place to stay or commuting to the services.  We would bring our folks and teens to the camp meeting, always thrilled at the way God worked.

As a worker, I was a youth and song evangelist at least one year.  Not sure that the title is correct but the job was just that.  I had the joy of working with Burl O. Crowe.  We became instant friends and he was a tremendous spiritual mentor to me.  I received far more blessings than I imparted.  Here's some funny stuff I remember:

When I arrived at the camp, one of the workers who cared for the workers' quarters was leaving my room with a box and a broom.  I introduced myself and asked him what was in the big box.  He said, "Preacher, you don't want to know."  I said, "Now I am curious.  What is it?"  He was right.  When he opened the box I didn't want to know.  It was a rattlesnake family!  I asked him if he would keep this between us and not tell my wife until camp was over.  A married man himself, he understood and agreed. 

I remember how cold the water to shower was.  You had to be serious about cleanliness to lather up and run under the water.  No one warned me, so I was very surprised.

One evening the July Flies / June Bugs were more fierce than usual.  Brother Crowe had been preaching for several nights.  He would speak, use a hand funeral home fan to cool himself and step on bugs that landed on the platform.  All without losing a eat!  I was impressed.  On this particular night, I sang a solo and one of the bugs flew into my mouth and down my throat!  Like Crowe, I just kept going.  No one said anything to me after the service except a young man sitting on the first row who said, "Mister, where'd that bug go?"  I said, "I at him. He flew down my throat and kept flying into my belly."  Nothing in my ministerial training had ever prepared me for swallowing such a big bug with my mouth open, nor for answering a question about it.  The little boy said, "Man! That's unbelievable!  It's a miracle"  I held on to that promise throughout the night as I wondered if the bug would attempt an escape.

I remember the heat... great food... sulphur water... altar calls... the tears of repentance and joy... the renewal... the singing... the special musicians... the evangelists' zeal... the hard working people who cooked, cleaned, kept the grounds and even collected the snakes.  I have spoken in many places since and been camp evangelist again, but I always had the fondest of memories and inspiration from your camp.

Now more than thirty years later, each summer I wonder about the good folks who love Jesus so much at the Hortense Camp.  I hope that you all are blessed.