Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Religion in West Texas - Historic Camp

"These are hallowed grounds. You'll find God here. Come walk with Him."

This statement can be found on the Paisano Baptist Encampment's website. I was fortunate enough to visit the campground the weekend of April 24-26, 2009 for a writing retreat. It's history intrigued me, so I felt this would be a great topic to share with readers.

Located just outside Alpine on the highway to Marfa, the encampment has been the local gathering ground for a week of renewal and inspiration since 1915. The first attendees slept in tents or in bedrolls on the ground. Meals were served from Army chuck wagons. The picture to the left is of the cooking staff in 1921.

Meals were eaten under an eating shed, and services and Bible studies were held under a tin-roofed tabernacle. At the first camps, ranchers, families, businessmen, preachers, and worshipers sat around a campfire and discussed expenses. Each gave what they could so that the camp could continue.

In the picture to the right, also taken in 1921, note that the women and girls wore dresses, and the men dress pants and white shirts.

Eventually families and churches started building cabins. The present tabernacle was built in 1950. At that time water, sewer, and electrical utilities were added, as well as trailer parking areas.

Today an offering is collected at the last service that fully funds the camp. A foundation now helps with expenses outside the budget. A full time manager and assistant oversee camp maintenance. The encampment is also used by other organizations.

The annual encampment takes place in late July. Services begin Sunday evening and end after breakfast the following Saturday morning. Though the encampment is run by the Baptist, individuals and churches from other denominations participate. I've been told that on a warm summer evening, nothing is more beautiful than voices raised in songs of praise echoing through the mountains.

The sign above greets visitors as they enter the encampment. Below is a picture of some of the cabins at the encampment today. Some are very small, others are larger with bedrooms, kitchens, and modern baths.

My husband and I stayed in one of the renovated cabins and were very comfortable. There are very few lights at the encampment, so the star show is magnificent. A flashlight is needed to navigate from one area to the other.

I hope one day to be able to attend one of the gatherings in July.

The vintage pictures above were taken from
http://texashistory.unt.edu/permalink/meta-pth-43379/ Information on Paisano Encampment was taken from http://www.paisanoencampment.org/

Thanks for reading!
Linda LaRoque ~ Western Romance with a Twist in Time.
Forever Faithful, Investment of the Heart 5-09, When the Ocotillo Bloom, 7-09, Champagne Books; A Law of Her Own, Desires of the Heart, My Heart Will Find Yours 5-09, Flames on the Sky 10-23-09 from TWRP.


Judith Leger said...

Wow, wonderful information, Linda. It must be wonderful to visit such an historic site. Thanks for sharing!

Celia Yeary said...

Linda--I'm thrilled you posted this information about Paisano Encampment. I had looked at the web site, too, when I thought I'd get to go.Not to whine, but it seems something always comes up when I want to plan something.I still have the info about joining the Trail Writers. I'm anxious to read your posts about the conference. Celia

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Judith,
I'd love to go to a camp meeting and join in all the signing and preaching. Maybe one of these days.
Thanks for stopping by.

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Celia,
I understand how you feel. Maybe next year.
I'll get something together here soon about the conference soon. I don't have as many pictures as I'd like but will have to make do.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Linda, great post! I truly need to get to Texas!

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Tanya,
Give me a holler if you get here and I'll show you around.