Dimock camp meeting holds open house
BY PAT FARNELLI
A little-known Methodist Camp Meeting in Dimock, established in the 1870s, held an open house event on Saturday to show off its spruced up grounds and charming facilities.
The Dimock Camp Meeting has been faithfully providing Sunday concerts and evening services every summer, as well as summer lodging in cottages that can be owned or rented by the day or week.
Many families have a summer tradition of staying in the pleasant campgrounds, where they can enjoy a pond, walking trails, a pavilion, concerts in the chapel, and a dining hall used for refreshments after the Sunday evening services.
During the open house, several clowns made balloon animals and painted faces, Damian the Magician strolled about and then performed a magic show, bingo was played in the pavilion, and a number of local groups, including the True Friends animal shelter, the Montrose food pantry, a Christian motorcycle group, and the Springville Hose Company were on hand.
The Dimock Camp Meeting traces its roots back to 1875 when a decision was made by several Methodist Episcopal congregations in the region to create “a permanent campmeeting ground” in the then Wyalusing District of the Methodist Church.
The camp meeting’s purposes were spiritual revival and evangelization as the “plain gospel” was proclaimed and taught, says a historical statement.
The Dimock camp meeting was chartered in 1877.
“When the Wyalusing District was dissolved in 1878, few would have dreamed that it could sustain itself,” the historical document continues.
In 1875, Methodists gathered and divided up tasks such as securing the grounds through a lease arrangement; constructing a boarding house; acquiring supplies of provisions, horse feed and straw; getting lumber and erecting a preacher’s stand and other necessary buildings; making water arrangements; working out a means of transporting baggage from the train depot to the grounds; leasing tent sites; and overseeing lighting.
July 9, 1875, was the day set aside for a work-bee at Dimock on the 23.2-acre grounds then being leased from Col. Olney Bailey. It was for “all of the gentleman friends of the Camp-meeting with axes, hammers, saws, pick, and shovels, and with a will to use them in gratuitous labor in preparing the Camp-Ground.”
A call went out to congregations in the Wyalusing District: “Let all who love to see a beautiful grove fitted up rally to the bee. Come from Bradford, come from Wyoming, come from the hills and from the valleys, from towns and from country in our beautiful Susquehanna – not only to prepare the Ground, but to make the Camp-Meeting a success for good.”
August 25, 1875, was the first night of camp meeting style preaching on the grounds. It was reported that 7,000 persons were present that week and a local newspaper said it never “saw so many at any gathering” in Susquehanna County “as were there on Sunday.” In 1876 local newspapers reported attendance at 10,000.
The historian states that camp meeting attenders journeyed in horse-drawn buggies to pitch their tents or bytrain to stay in one of several boarding houses. In time tent platforms were converted into rows of about 100 cottages which faced the main square where a preacher’s stand and plank benches created an open air amphitheater.
The chapel was completed in 1940, and now Sunday evening services have been scheduled across ten consecutive Sunday evenings.
Today, one can find the Dimock grounds, by following Pa. Rt. 29 about 15 miles north of Tunkhannock and about 7 miles south of Montrose. At the blinker light in Dimock (intersection of Rt. 29 and State Route 3023) go west about one-half mile and then make a left-hand turn onto Campground Road, and after about 50 yards make another left onto the entrance road to the grounds.