Shingleroof Campground (www.shingleroof.org) could be called a two hundred year living time capsule. The land we now know as Shingleroof Campground hosted camp meetings as far back as the 1830’s. Purchased as a permanent campground in 1932, usa advice it is a reflection of a historic time in Henry County and America.
During the early nineteenth century when the Protestant Church membership rolls were decreasing and the general population was increasing by leaps and bounds, buy the camp meeting movement began. The pastors and churches could not sit behind closed doors in prayer, so they adopted the philosophy of: “If the people won’t go to the Church, then the Church will go to the people”. The results were tent towns that sprang up in mountains and fields alike. The requirements were simple: lots of open land to camp and congregate; a source of clean water for drinking, bathing, baptizing; and plenty of shade.
The American camp meeting revival was a one or two week long event. It was usually held in August, during the lull between planting and harvesting. People brought their families and enough food, clothes and shelter for the week. Relationships were formed at camp meetings. Couples fell in love. Folks shared everything from Grandma’s family recipe for peach cobbler to tying flies and fishing tips. Families bonded. Children grew up and brought their children. Many families have been attending Shingleroof for ten generations.
From the beginning, camp meeting was open to all. It was a chance to share and learn from other cultures. In fact, many of our songs and styles come from camp meeting: call & response, and shout & moan styles can be traced to African origins. Many Scotch-Irish and European melodies have woven themselves into the American music tapestry. Camp meeting was the conduit that carried this mixture of cultures and social values to the outside world. These early camp meetings may well have kept our country from becoming a godless frontier nation.
Shingleroof Campground carries on the tradition today. Their camp meetings embrace the same spirit of sharing, family and brotherhood – of man giving homage to the early pioneers who dared to break with church tradition by taking the message of salvation to the hills and valleys.
Camp meetings carried us through a pivotol time in America, and Shingleroof Campground is a daily reminder that we live in a region of America still known as “The Bible Belt.”