M. You know it’s all about multi-tasking.
D. It is.
M. And that explains a lot of this [Camp Meeting].
D. It does. It explains the lure of just being around people and nothing else..
M. It does.
D. You know I just don’t want to go down that road. I don’t want to do it at all. I got seven years left. Josh will be done at school and then I want to move out. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being in a hurry.
M. And we’ve just been caught up in all of this. The Atlanta area has moved outward.
D. But I don’t know where you go. My son’s in south Atlanta at Woodward [School], my husband’s up in Duluth, I’m in Buckhead, and my daughter’s out here in Conyers [at daycare]. I mean it’s crazy.
M. Yea but what do you do? What do you do?
In a world where one seems to be always on the move, the Campground serves as a kind of haven from the chaos of middle-class life. In a world where nothing seems to stand still Salem represents a home that one can return to every year and where time seems to stop. Here’s how Ann Milton, a life-long Salem camper, put it:
My dad was a chaplain in the Air Force and we always moved. I went to ten different schools. We lived all over the United States. But he’d always tried to get vacation time so we could come back [to Georgia] and be with the family for Camp Meeting. No matter where we were we’d try to get back. We came from Albany, Georgia twice, Illinois, California, Japan. And living in so many different homes, and belonging to so many chapels and churches, well this [Salem Campground] was home. Because it was the only thing that was. It stayed, always permanent. You know, that in itself is such a blessing. You know, you see life continuing on, and there’s a feeling of that, there’s a healing feeling that you’re not alone and no matter what happens during the year, you are loved and you’re accepted and God’s going to be with you. And you’re going to make it through. And that’s what it’s about, I think.
Though now located along an increasingly busy road in a rapidly suburbanizing but once rural area some 40 miles from Atlanta, the campground itself still retains its bucolic beauty. For many campers, the din from the road only highlights the tranquility one feels when one sets foot onto the campground. As one elderly camper said “You come off the road and onto this. It’s very symbolic. It’s like traveling ten million miles.” Another Camper, lecturing her Sunday School class at the Campground, saw the steady rhythms of Camp Meeting as a kind of spiritual antidote to the frenetic pace and the questionable values of everyday life and work: “We’ve got to do this, and then this. We’ve got to make enough money. We’ve got to drive the right car.