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The Come Back

June 19, 2021

As the temperature rises and the days get longer, parents and children wash and label clothes and pack sleeping bags in preparation for summer camp. It will be loud. It will be hot. Mosquitos will be plentiful and s’mores will be eaten. Is it 1949 or 2021? What’s old is new again!

Before buildings could be built or even renovated, Methodist youth camped in tents on the hallowed grounds of Epworth By The Sea. Within months of the property being purchased, children were sleeping in the old barn and the farm house once used by the Hamilton Plantation and the Hilton Dodge Lumber Company. Camp fires were built and songs were sung so that even Charles Wesley would be proud. These longstanding Methodist events harken back to the times of meeting in brush arbors and summer camp meetings and were as successful in the mid-1900s as they were in the mid-1800s.

Many of the present clergy and laity in the South Georgia Conference have wonderful memories of summer camp at Epworth By The Sea and we are delighted to hear these stories when they visit the Moore Methodist Museum. How many of you remember the nine-foot statue of John Wesley that sits in the rotunda and is carved out of chocolate – dark chocolate to be exact – except for the index finger on his right hand which was bitten off one year by a summer counselor and replaced with cheese? Do you also remember that the dais upon which the statue stands is a small refrigeration unit used to keep the chocolate cold? Because of these stories, summer campers have been known to lick the statue when no one was looking.

Do you also remember that the life-sized wax figure of Bishop Arthur J. Moore has cameras in his eyes that follow visitors wherever they go within the room? The museum staff use these cameras to watch children while they visit to ensure nothing is broken. I have heard stories of the wax figure of Bishop Moore being moved at night so he could “scare” campers as they walked by after dark, but we no longer do this.

The summer of 2020 was just too quiet at the Moore Methodist Museum, and we truly missed Camp Connect and all the joy that goes with it. Even though camp will not be able to meet at Epworth this year due to the ongoing closure, they will meet on Jekyll Island and the museum staff have planned fun activities and yummy snacks. It will be hot. It will be loud. Mosquitos will be plentiful and s’mores will be eaten. And we will be joy-full once more.

Anne Packard serves as Conference Historian and director of the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum on St. Simons Island. Contact her at director@mooremuseum.org.

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