Carey’s United Methodist Camp is excited to honor its 125th year of summer meetings, a huge milestone in an era where quality religious camps are few and far in between.
Carey’s United Methodist Camp is located just west of Millsboro, Delaware. It consists of a group of cottages or ‘tents’ that circle an open-frame tabernacle. Attendees can also bring their own tents or trailers. Meetings are held for 2 weeks in the summer every year. The first meeting at the camp was held in 1888, and in 1973, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Camps like Carey’s were among the first organizations of the Methodist faith. Many churches have been created out of camp meetings like those. However, Carey’s is one of the few of those camps still alive and kicking.
Carey’s is one of the two remaining historic camp meetings in Delaware, the other being Antioch Camp Meeting in Frankford, which was first established in 1890.
Mixed theories exist as to why the majority of camps have vanished. Some popular ones include that the issue of violence instigated a shut-down of public camps in their early years and that the rise of automobiles and fairs and festivals made camp meetings less appealing.
Peggy Johnson, the United Methodist bishop for Delaware and Eastern PA, claimed the reason Carey’s Camp has lasted for so long is because “there is so much love… it’s a living community.”
Attendees of the camp are able to look fondly on the memories they’ve had throughout the years and recall some of the memories passed on from their ancestors from the camp. Many of the members have been introduced to the camp through family tradition long ago, but have since stayed loyal because of the great experience, augmented by fun activities and fellowship.
“Camp meetings are a festival for the body, the spirit and the mind,” said Berta Ward Smith, a member of the camp.
The camp holds a special place in the hearts of several generations; some attendees have even gotten married or baptized there. State Rep. Tim Dukes, who preaches at the camp, acknowledged the wonderful history of the camp, but afterwards said that “what Carey’s Camp is really about is the message of the gospel.”
Carey’s United Methodist Camp is a valuable gem to the Methodist faith, and it serves as an example for the young, aspiring camps of today. Though 125 years is a miracle in itself, Carey’s supporters intend to keep it alive for many more years to come.