I am a member of the committee that organizes the Annual Arbutus Camp Meeting, occurring this year on Sunday, September 24. This is an easy assignment for me because as a young child my family would come to the Arbutus Campground to visit my grandparents Rev. Bud and Martha Smith who owned a small cottage (not equipped with a toilet – I have the chamber pot to prove it).
Later, as a member of the youth group at my church we would hold retreats in the old dormitory which was still standing during my teens. I was actually scared to death of three story dormitory. Back then the boys would stay on the one floor supervised by counselors and the girls were bunked on the other floor with their counselors. Talk about scary….there were more creeks and groans in the floors of this old dormitory than I care to remember and there was an odd mildew smell that I didn’t particularly care for. Of course this precluded the many ghost stories that were soon told once the daylight turned into darkness. Unlike others in my youth group, I was never one that loved the adrenaline rush brought on by being scared to death so I was always happy when night turned into day! I was always more than happy to vacate the dormitory but if it rained during the retreat we were doomed to stay inside.
Another reason my family would visit the campground was for corn boils, when corn and hot dogs were boiled in big pots on the fireplace which still stands beside Apartment Building A. There was nothing better than to pull out a steaming hot ear of locally grown corn, slather it up with butter and salt, sit cross-legged on the ground and eat it up enjoying the fellowship with families of the congregation of Trinity Church where my father was assigned as the pastor in the early 60’s.
The Arbutus of those days was populated by trees, moss and Trailing Arbutus which grew abundantly throughout the grounds. By this time the cottages had all been torn down, and in 1961 a heavy snowstorm destroyed the structure of the Tabernacle. All that remained as a reminder of the active days of revival at Arbutus Campground were the dormitory and the caretakers home which were razed in 1971. The still standing fireplace is the last remembrance of the original campground.
Now that I have reminisced a bit I would like all of you who have memories of the campground days to join us in our service on Sunday, September 24 at 1:30 p.m. in our Chapel. Rather than a formal church service we are planning an informal gathering filled with memories of the old campground days. This is an open invitation to any of you folks reading this blog to join us, bring pictures, stories and memories to share so we can “go back in time” and reflect on the heritage we are so richly blessed with. -bc
Contributor: Bonnie Camblin is the Business Office Manager at Arbutus