Denver residents Sunny Reeves and Julie Smith have been attending the Rock Springs Methodist Camp Meeting since birth.
Now they both frequent the annual two-week spiritual revival with their husbands and children, hoping to make the experience as memorable for the younger generation as it was for them.
Three years ago, the women established a way to keep children active at the faith-filled meeting and prevent families from going home between morning and evening worship services.
By offering the area youth a fun-filled kid’s day where they can fellowship and compete with others their age, Smith and Reeves believe the children will develop life-long friendships and memories.
“Growing up, we always stayed out here every day,” Reeves said.
Smith couldn’t agree more.
Now mother to two children, seven and 10, she remembers the days when she and the other camp meeting children would play barefoot under the arbor, engaging in whiffle ball, kick ball and other outdoor games.
Her mom would take off work for one of the weeks in order to spend time with her daughter and other youth, cooking the group a big breakfast each morning.
“We would play and play and play and be filthy dirty,” Smith said.
She, too, made a promise to attend the event with her kids each year and remain true to her family’s long-standing tradition.
On Tuesday, more than 50 children participated in rowdy team competitions outside an area of wooden tents. Game themes were based on the popular television show “Fear Factor,” Smith said.
While scaled down quite a bit, the games still required an element of skill and courage.
Not only did children attempt without using their hands to eat powdered donuts dangling from strings but they also bobbed for candy worms in large bowls of water.
Shouts of innocence and excitement filled the camp meeting air as teams cheered each other on toward victory.
Families crowded around the activities with cameras along with Smith and Reeves, each dressed in tacky superhero costumes.
Smith said the children and even adults are most looking forward to the meeting’s last day of celebration when every year, following a final worship service and large-scale singing event, all campers engage in a water fight.
“No one leaves dry,” Camp Meeting Board Trustee Scott Killian said.
In past years, some participants have been known to roll each other in the dirt and cedar shavings that still comprise a minimal number of tent floors, Smith said.
Most individuals are still in their “Sunday best” when the fight begins.
“We love to get people wet in their dresses and church clothes,” Smith said.
Even in its 183rd year, Rock Springs Methodist Camp Meeting remains a hit with the community.
Daily services and weekend bluegrass and gospel concerts will take place through Sunday.
For more information visit rockspringscampmeeting.com.