|Cypress Methodist Campground, Ridgeville, SC|
This was very exciting. I had seen the grounds when they were completely empty and they were peaceful spots but to be included in the annual event was a real honor.
Cypress Methodist Camp Ground is one of only a few campgrounds in South Carolina which, up until the time of its nomination, continues to host annual week-long camp meetings—a vestige of the Great Awakening in American religious life in the nineteenth century. Cypress is significant for its association with Francis Asbury, pioneer of American Methodism, and for its long, uninterrupted use as a site of revivalism for almost 200 years. The campground is in the general shape of a rectangle of 34 tents, or cabins, made of rough-hewn lumber. These cabins, rectangular shaped, are generally 1½ stories and contain earthen floors. The typical floor plan features a hall extending the length of the cabin with as many as three rooms on the opposite side. The second story is accessible by a small stairway or ladder. In the center of the rectangle is the tabernacle, an open-sided wooden structure that is the focal point of these revival meetings. Serving crowds too large for church buildings or homes, the campground responded to both religious and social needs. The tents allowed people to stay overnight, and the campground term remained even though tents were gradually replaced by the current rough-hewn cabins. Cypress Camp Ground was functional as early as 1794, and an adjacent cemetery contains graves from the early 1800s. Listed in the National Register April 26, 1978.We wandered the property where everyone seemed to be enjoying family reunion events and preparing for dinner. Packs of children ran free and volleyball and bean bag toss games were in progress.
The large tabernacle is in the center of the field and has a time capsule buried. Our hosts - the Vaughan family have owned their tent for close to 200 years. Some of the families have cooks who come for the week to prepare meals but we ate potluck with main dishes assigned. Large tables were laden with delicious treats. Service was called at 7:30 by blowing on a large conch shell kept securely in a special box. That evening's service consisted of a group playing gospel music and we walked back to our can by the light of an almost full moon.