> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

Summertime, and millions of Americans go camping. Some may live in a cabin in the woods or by water, others in an RV, all anticipating more relaxation, spending time outdoors, often where it’s cooler, wrote Ralph Lord Roy in a report for MyRecordJournal.com

A century ago a number of campgrounds were thriving across the country that had been established by churches, and a few remain. The Methodists had one in Plainville, Conn., no longer denominational, which is celebrating its 150th birthday. To visit the Plainville Campground is to take a step back in history and get some sense of a popular religious practice that flourished after the Civil War.

During our childhood my siblings and I spent a week or two several summers at a similar place up in northwestern Vermont. At its center was an old-fashioned, open-sided tabernacle where we would assemble each morning to belt out peppy gospel choruses and listen to brief homilies that encouraged us to live virtuous lives. We would then attend Bible classes, enjoy group games, and gather evenings around a campfire, singing “Abide with Me” before we scattered for bed. When such campgrounds first were organized, revivals often would be held. People arrived in carriages and wagons and stayed in tents, gradually replaced by cottages.

The Plainville Campground at 320 Camp St. is an area treasure and has been designated an “Historic District” by the state. In 1957 it was purchased from the Methodists by The Plainville Camp Grounds Association, a self-governing, not-for-profit ecumenical corporation. It includes 87 picturesque and architecturally distinct cottages on 17 acres, open from May 1 to Oct. 31. Most of its residents are retired, many from warmer climates, with a substantial number from Florida.

A summer of special events is marking this 150th anniversary. Darlene (Dee) Tousey is chair of the celebration and noted that the anniversary motto is: “Plainville Campground: Honoring the Past while Moving Forward.” She and her husband Ed are from Barefoot Bay, Fla., home of several other residents. The Touseys had lived in Cheshire, and with two daughters still there and two sons in Torrington “we have the best of all possible worlds.” Most members of their large family, which includes 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, are nearby.

Read the full report here.