Some call it vacation. Others say a family reunion. But for all that walk the hallowed grounds of Lumpkin Campground each summer, campmeeting is a weeklong spiritual revival and celebration.
"It is the most wonderful place on earth," Kris Rowan said. "It is a great place to worship God, feel Christian hospitality and just enjoy the beautiful holy grounds."
The 183-year tradition continues Monday with the first service at 7:45 p.m. beneath the open air arbor at the center of the 40-acre grove.
Local Methodists began meeting for summer revival at Lumpkin Campground in 1830 after 40 local men each donated $1 for its purchase.
Later, as Baptists married into those founding families, Methodist and Baptist ministers began sharing the pulpit.
This year's ministers are the Rev. Glenn Ray, who is Methodist, and Larry Draper, who is Baptist. The Rev. Johnny Ray will be the song leader.
In the early days, families would pack up their horse drawn, covered wagons with blankets, pots and pans, canned foods, cows for milk, live chickens for fresh eggs and supper, hay for the animals and enough pies and cakes to last a week.
They'd stay for the week in rustic family cabins they called tents, where they met up with family and old friends to pass along stories of faith and rejoice in the spirit.
Time slows down for campmeeting, according to Rowan.
"I have attended Lumpkin Campmeeting all my life," she said. "Family and friends sit on the porch swing and talk and enjoy the company.
Some things about campmeeting have changed over the years. The campground got electricity in the early 1940s, so the tents have gas stoves, running water and many have air conditioning.
But many of the traditions from years gone by remain unchanged, including one that began before the campground had electricity.
The trunks of the hardwood trees were whitewashed so that members would not run into them as they made their way to the arbor for services.
Even though the campground is well lit, the tradition to gather on Sunday prior to campmeeting to paint the tree trunks continues today.
Services will be held daily the rest of the week at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. on Lumpkin Campground Road, across from Bethel United Methodist Church.
There will also be teen services led by Lollie Elliott at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and youth programs from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily beginning on Tuesday.
"Melinda Patrick always plans great worship time and lots of fun activities for the kids," Rowan said. "You really need to come out and take part in this truly amazing week."