MEXICO - It's that time of year once again. At the beginning of August, people think: One more month until the kids are back in school, "dog days" of summer and Island Grove Camp Meetings in Mexico.
This marks the 116th year for the meetings, only missing one full session of camp due to the Hurricane Agnes Flood of 1972.
Back when many of the current campers were growing up, Rev. William Culbertson, former president of Moody Bible Institute and a cottage holder, was our main speaker. This year, our featured evangelist is his granddaughter, Rev. Lydia Huttar Brown.
Island Grove campground, a family church camp in Mexico, Juniata County, celebrates its 116th anniversary this year.
Brown is the pastor of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Sunfish Lake, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul. She served for over 13 years as a children's and family minister in Episcopal and Presbyterian churches before being ordained in 2001. She is passionate about helping everyone of all ages grow in their faith through study, prayer and participation in worship.
Brown grew up attending Island Grove Campground every summer, following a family tradition going back to 1912. She says that her faith was shaped by the singing and nightly messages. She especially remembers the preaching of her grandfather, Culbertson.
Camp will open at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 3 with a communion service led by Rev. Marsha Bookhamer of the Mexico and Ebenezer United Methodist churches.
Aug. 4 is Mission Night and this year's speaker will be Patrick Traxler of Trinity United Methodist Church in Lewistown. Traxler is a 2012 graduate of Mifflin County High School and will be attending West Virginia Wesleyan College before continuing his education for his Masters in Divinity to become an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. Last January, Traxler went on his first mission trip to Rhajastan, India, working in medical check-up camps. He will be sharing his experiences with us.
Brown will speak nightly on grace, love and miracles beginning at 7:30 p.m. from August 5 to 10. Eddie Piper, local Christian singer, will be the worship and song leader Sunday through Thursday with others filling in as needed. After services each night, refreshments will be served for a minimal fee at the Boarding House.
Special events during camp start Sunday afternoon with an ice cream social and Children's Fun Faire that is open and free to the public. Other events (hayride, hot dog roast, movie night) will be announced nightly at the services.
During the week, the following are offered to those on the grounds and off the grounds at 10 a.m. Bible study is held in the Boarding House, led by Dr. Charles Huttar. Children's Service is in the Tabernacle, led by Becca and Nate Rupley. Teen Time will be in the Norman Cottage, led by Beth Norman.
Island Grove is made up of 20 privately owned cottages with the Tabernacle at one of the grounds and the "Mexico Hilton" Boarding House at the other end. Our focus is on God and what He means to each and every person. Through the services, we grow in our walk with the Lord.
Along with many other campers, I have grown up attending camp all of my life. Now I have family members who also have their own cottages at Island Grove. My memories are so strong in what I've learned from my departed parents, grandparents and their acquaintances. My hope is that my children and grandchildren can look back and know that their faith was strengthened while attending this unique family church camp.
Church camps have come and gone, and Island Grove has gone through many changes. We're celebrating our 166th year because God is, and always shall be, the cornerstone of Island Grove Campground.
Any Christian church is invited to become a member of the campground by paying an initial fee of $25 and a $10 annual fee.
Camp sites are available for tents and campers. Sites with electric hookups are $10 per night, or without for $5. A special rate of $75 for electric hookups for eight to 10 nights is available.
To make a reservation or for more information, call or write to Paul Culbertson, superintendent of the grounds, at (570) 374-0951 or PO Box 202, 413 N. Eighth St., Selinsgrove, PA 17870.