Year after year, in the sweltering August heat, people return to Tucker’s Grove campground for camp meeting. Minuette Floyd, now a professor at the University of South Carolina, came to Tucker’s Grove Camp Meeting as a child with her parents. She returned to the campgrounds on Friday for the blessing of the grounds.
“It was what people did during those times to be with family and friends,” she said. “To see people who you haven’t seen, in some respects, since the last camp meeting. When you’re young, you think about the concession stand area and those types of things but we always went to the arbor first. After that we would walk around and get something from the concession stands. My family didn’t have a tent on any grounds but we always went to camp meeting. My dad knew a lot of people.”
The author of “A Place to Worship: African American Camp Meetings in the Carolinas,” Floyd rekindled her relationship with camp meetings as an adult. After she finished college and moved from Florida to South Carolina in 1996, her brother asked if she wanted to ride with him to camp meeting. As soon as she stepped on the grounds, Floyd writes in “A Place to Worship,” her childhood memories came back to her. She saw a man taking photographs and decided that she too had to capture what was camp meeting.
A few days after she returned home, she conducted some research and discovered that there was little written about African-American camp meetings. She discovered an article written in a 1872 issue of Harper’s Weekly about “a Negro camp meeting.” Floyd wondered how someone could write about a tradition,which had been very important to her growing up, with no prior knowledge and in such a stereotypical manner. This prompted her to write, “A Place to Worship.” Over a period of 15 years, Floyd attended camp meetings at three campgrounds in North Carolina, one of them Tucker’sGrove, and four in South Carolina, to gather the history and personal stories of those who regularly attended camp meetings to write her book which is documented both through her writing and photography.
“I grew up in the tradition,” she said. “When I returned as an adult, it seemed as if nothing had changed to me. When I’m on the grounds, I think about all the people who came before us and walked on these grounds and all of the hard work, sweat and probably blood that they shared in order to make this happen every year. There are people who just love camp meeting and I’m one of those people. It’s in my DNA.”
Tucker’s now has a family connection for Floyd because her brother married into the Ross family who have a tent at the camp ground. New this year is a welcome station complete with a history of the campground written by Floyd. Eventually Floyd hopes to write a book just about Tucker’s Grove. She hopes to provide the younger generation with stories and history of camp meetings.
“A Place to Worship: African American Camp Meetings in the Carolinas” is available for purchase on Amazon.