Lynn Nahlik looks forward to campmeeting at Lumpkin Campground all year.
"Campmeeting is something you focus your life on in a way, because it's something that we would not miss it. There is no way," she said. "We move in on a Friday and we move out 10 days later on Sunday. It's just something that's a part of you. You just feel like you have to be here."
The 184-year tradition continued Monday night with a service 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.
"It brings us a lot closer together with Christ and with each other and it just helps us realize how much we really need each other," said 12-year-old Chloe Bennett.
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.
Nahlik was 8-years-old when her parents built their tent.
"When I was younger than that, we would come up to the day services and I would just cry and cry because I didn't want to go home. I wanted to stay. When I was 8, three weeks before campmeeting started, mom and dad said, ‘let's build these kids a tent.' They built this tent in three weeks by the car headlights," she said.
She says the moments she shares with her family at campmeeting are among her most cherished memories.
"When campmeeting comes, we're all here together the whole week, and I think that means more to me than anything. It's a time for everybody that has roots in this campground comes back together," she said. "You see people that you haven't seen since the last campmeeting and we all come together and it is a time for us all to remember our spiritual roots and to praise God for everything that we have."
Services will be held daily at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. through Sunday.
Lumpkin Campground is located across from Bethel United Methodist Church on Lumpkin Campground Road.