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Carey's Camp History

The Birth of Carey's Camp

by Don Ward

In the late 1700s, circuit riders were sent out across the Delmarva Peninsula by the Bishop of the Methodist Conference. Those men, the most famous of which was Freeborn Garretson, rode on horseback and lived out of their saddlebags. They spread the Methodist Gospel to individuals and groups when they could gather the scattered individuals together. During the late summer, when farmers had completed work on their crops, they frequently gathered for meetings that went on for several days. Those involved Bible study and revival meetings and were referred to as camp meetings. Since there were no buildings for such meetings, they took place in farm fields or wooded areas. The setting, the dining, and the living arrangements were quite primitive. Makeshift sleeping arrangements were constructed using sheets attached to poles. Those structures were referred to as “tents.”


 In the mid-1800s, perhaps as early as 1836, a group began annual gatherings, referred to as camp meetings, at a place called Mudford on old maps. The current location is on Carey’s Camp Road.

In 1888, Carey’s Methodist Episcopal Church began holding services less than a mile to the east of the Mudford camp meeting site. The church purchased more land adjacent to their property. Wooden, but primitive structures, were constructed by individual families instead of the makeshift tents at the original site. The structures encircled a central assembly place called a tabernacle. That was the beginning of Carey’s Camp. Since the original living quarters at the prior site were called tents, the updated structures at the new site were also called “tents”, however illogical that may seem. The name stuck and has been in use for well over one hundred years. Those who refer to the living quarters as anything except tents are sending a message that they are not local!

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