Preparing for the Camp Meeting and Sabbath
Camp Meeting Hygiene
Hanford, California Campground
May 5, 1882
Formerly Undated Ms 88.
Our yearly convocations are of importance. They cost something, in time, money, and wearing labor. They are held for a special purpose. We meet for the worship of God and to obtain spiritual strength by feeding upon the bread of life. We want to seek the Lord and find Him to the joy of our souls. To do this, we must banish worldly thoughts and interests; we must lay aside our home and business cares. We must not give our time to visiting and feasting or to the gratification of pride or the pursuit of pleasure. The season we spend together should be devoted to heart searching, to confession of sin, and to earnest prayer. Jesus is among us to hear our prayers, to pardon our sins, and to give us His blessing.
We know that time is short. Soon “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth that he may judge his people.” Psalm 50:3, 4. Then shall we not improve all our opportunities in this day of grace, that we may be able to stand in that time when heaven and earth shall hear the voice of God calling to judgment? Is anything more worthy to engage our energies and occupy our time?
Pitching the Tents
Nothing should be neglected that would promote the success of these gatherings. The campground should be made attractive. The ground should be carefully laid out, and some one who has good taste and understands the pitching of tents should oversee this part of the work. The directions which God gave to the Israelites when they lived in tents may be profitably studied. There was order in the arrangement of the camp, for the Lord is a God of order and does not sanction any confusion in His work.
Every precaution should be taken for the preservation of health. The tents should be securely staked. It is now customary to supply nearly all our tents with a raised floor, which may be covered with a carpet and made very neat and comfortable. This is an excellent plan and should be followed wherever circumstances admit. When the meeting is held in a country where there is liability of rain, the tents should also be trenched. This should not be neglected, even though there has been no rain for weeks. Lives have been imperiled and even lost through neglect of this precaution. People in new countries sometimes became careless, but it should be the principle of all Christians to correct a tendency to slack, indolent habits. In many cases it is advisable that families provide stoves for their tents.
Preparation for the Meeting
Many of our sisters spend a great deal of time and strength in sewing and cooking by way of preparation for the meeting. Much of this wearying labor is unnecessary; yet the things needful to comfort should not be neglected. As far as possible, every member of the family should be supplied with suitable clothing, sufficient for health and comfort for the changes of weather that are liable to occur. But often the work that consumes the time and energies of our sisters is done more for the gratification of pride than for the sake of providing neat, comfortable clothing.
In the matter of cooking, if the meals are taken at the dining tent, no preparation of food will be necessary. When families board themselves, far too much cooking is often done. Some have never attended a camp meeting and do not know what preparations are required. Others are liberal minded and want everything done on a bountiful scale. The food which they provide includes rich pies and cakes, with other articles that cannot be eaten without positive injury.
It is not wise to make such great preparation. The task they take upon themselves is so heavy that these sisters come to the meeting thorough wearied in body and mind, and those for whom the work is done are not benefitted. The stomach is overburdened with food which is not as plain and simple as that eaten at home, where a far greater amount of exercise is taken. As a result of overwork and bad food, much of the benefit of the meeting is lost. A lethargy takes possession of the mind, and it is difficult to appreciate eternal things. The meeting closes, and there is a feeling of disappointment that no more of the Spirit of God has been enjoyed.
Nothing in the line of food should be taken to camp meeting but the most wholesome articles, cooked in a simple manner. Plenty of good bread with other necessary food may be provided without overtaxing the strength. And all, both those who cook and those who eat, will enjoy better health, be better able to appreciate the words of life and be more susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
My sisters, let the preparation for eating and dressing be a secondary matter, but let deep heart searching commence at home. The great burden of the thoughts should be, How is it with my soul? When such thoughts occupy the mind, there will be such a longing for spiritual food, something that will impart spiritual strength, that no one will complain if the diet is simple. Pray often, and, like Jacob, be importunate. At home is the place to find Jesus; then take Him to the meeting, and the hours you spend there will be precious. But how can you expect to realize the presence of the Lord and to see His power displayed when the individual work of preparation has been neglected?
The Dining Tent
The arrangements for the dining tent are very important, for on the cooking and serving of the food, the health of the campers very largely depends. Those who have the responsibility of this department should be good cooks, who can be depended upon to do pains-taking, skillful work. But on many occasions, this has been overdone. Great care and thought have been given to the cooking, and the table has been supplied, not only with plenty of plain, substantial food, but with meat, pies, cakes, and a variety of other luxuries. In this way precious time has been given to needless labor, merely for the gratification of appetite, and the faithful workers have had the privilege of attending but few of the meetings.
This is unnecessary. The cooking may be so planned as to give the workers more advantages of the meeting than they have usually enjoyed, and on the Sabbath, in particular, their duties should be made as light as possible. We should have sympathy for those who are confined to the hot kitchen, engaged in the preparation of food, and should be willing to deny ourselves unnecessary luxuries for their sakes.
A few simple articles of food, cooked with care and skill, would supply all the real wants of the system. No greater luxuries are required than good, wheaten-meal bread, gems, and rolls, with a simple dessert, and the vegetables and fruits which are so abundant in most countries. These articles should be provided in sufficient quantity and of good quality, and when well cooked, they will afford a good, wholesome, nourishing diet. No one should be compelled to eat flesh meats because nothing better is provided to supply their place. Meat is not essential to health or strength; had it been, it would have been included in the bill of fare for Adam and Eve before the fall. The money that is sometimes expended in buying meat would purchase a good variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains, and these contain all the elements of nutrition.
Some persons bring upon the campground food that is entirely unsuitable to such occasions, rich cakes and pies and a variety of dishes that would derange the digestion of a healthy laboring man. Of course, the best is thought none too good for the minister. The people send these things to his table and invite him to their tables. In this way ministers are tempted to eat too much and food that is injurious. Not only is their efficiency at the camp meeting lessened but may become dyspeptics.
The minister should decline this well-meant, but unwise hospitality, even at the risk of seeming discourteous. And the people should have too much true kindness to press such an alternative upon him. They err when they tempt the minister with unhealthful food. Precious talent has thus been lost to the cause of God, and many, while they do live, are deprived of half the vigor and strength of their faculties. Ministers, above all others, should economize the strength of brain and nerve. They should avoid all food or drink that has a tendency to irritate or excite the nerves. Excitement will be followed by depression; overindulgence will cloud the mind and render thought difficult and confused. No man can become a successful workman in spiritual things until he observes strict temperance in his dietetic habits. God cannot let His Holy Spirit rest upon those who, while they know how they should eat for health, persist in a course that will enfeeble mind and body.
Preparation for the Sabbath
The Sabbath should be as sacredly observed on the campground as it is in our homes. We should not let the bustle and excitement around us detract from its sacred dignity. No cooking should be done on that day. The instruction which God gave to Israel should not be disregarded: “Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe;” “for tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” Exodus 16:23. God meant what He said when He gave these directions, and shall we, who are presenting to the people the claims of the divine law, break that law ourselves, merely to please the appetite? God forbid. There has sometimes been almost as much cooking done on the Sabbath as on other days, and the blessing of God has been shut out by our failure to honor Him in keeping the Sabbath according to the commandment.
All needful preparation should be made beforehand. On Sabbath morning if the weather is cool, let hot gruel or something equally simple be provided, and for dinner some kind of food may be warmed. Further than this, all cooking should be avoided as a violation of the Sabbath.
If all will exercise judgment and reasonable care in regard to clothing and diet, the blessings of the meeting may be enjoyed in health and comfort. The clothing should be varied according to the weather. During sudden changes and the chill of morning and evening, warmer garments and additional wraps are essential to health. The feet, in particular, should be well protected. Whatever the weather, they need to be kept warn and dry.
In eating, errors in the quantity as well as the quality of food should be avoided. Eating too much of even a simple diet will injure the health, as will also irregular eating and eating between meals. All these abuses of the stomach cloud the mind and blunt the conscience.
If right habits are ever observed, they certainly should be at these large and important meetings. Here, if anywhere, we want our minds clear and active. We should honor God at all times and in all places, but it seems doubly important at these meetings, where we assemble to worship Him and to gain a better knowledge of His will.
One reason why we do not enjoy more of the blessing of the Lord is that we do not heed the light He has been pleased to give us in regard to the laws of life and health. If we would all live more simply and let the time usually given to unnecessary table luxuries and pride of dress be spent in searching the Scriptures and in humble prayer for the Bread of Life, we should receive a greater measure of spiritual strength. We need to give less attention to our mere temporal wants and more to our eternal interests.
Let all who possibly can, attend these yearly gatherings. Return unto the Lord, gather up the rays of light that have been neglected, comply with the conditions laid down in the Word of God, and then by faith claim the promises. Jesus will be present, and He will give you blessings which all the treasures you possess, be they ever so valuable, would not be rich enough to buy. A strong, clear sense of eternal things and a heart willing to yield all to Christ are of inestimable value; in comparison with these, the riches and pleasures and glories of this world sink into insignificance. 3LtMs, Ms 8, 1882.
God bless you