Despite a quiet mid-week July 4, families still traveled en masse to inhabit their favorite campgrounds for the holiday, according to The Goshen News.
Flags flew mounted to truck beds. Golf carts bedazzled in shiny spangled banners zipped down the lane toward the pool. And in the still morning hours at Pla-Mor Campground in Bremen, Ind., strains of music drifted from the far back corner of the property.
The music came from a tent with a sign announcing “MILLER CAMP-OUT,” a relic of the Miller family’s annual July 4 reunion, which has been going strong for 34 years, according to brothers O.J and Perry Miller.
“Every year we do the whole week,” O.J. said.
When the siblings’ father died more than 30 years ago, the five brothers and one sister were spread across the country, from Texas to Florida to Alabama to Arkansas, according to O.J. They decided they needed to make a concerted effort to meet up at least once a year. Each sibling “hosted” at one point or another, inviting the rest of the clan to camp in his or her hometown.
“We look for entertainment in the area,” Perry said. The family, most of whom own an RV, gathers together for casual singing, chatting and eating during the first half of each day, then often heads out for a communal activity in the evenings.
As musicians Tim and Laurie Mast, a generation removed from the original Miller family, strummed away under a tent, O.J. gestured toward each table and introduced his family members. The family reunion attendance fluctuates from year to year – usually between 16 and 28, by his count – but the original six always attend. After nodding toward each person, he grinned.
“That’s the family. They’re all outlaws, but they’re good ones,” he said with a chuckle.
Though gatherings were smaller at Eby’s Pines RV Park & Campground in Bristol, the familial warmth seemed the same.
Under the shade of a tent parked next to his RV, which is situated in the same lot he has rented for the last 15 summers, Elkhart resident Jim Rogers welcomed his family as they arrived laden with food for the Independence Day meal.
Following a comment about the tablecloth decorated with American flags, his wife Andy Rogers said, “No, it’s not for the Fourth. It’s like this all the time.”
Jim nodded. He is a military veteran who served in Afghanistan, he said, then added the camper next door served in Vietnam. Aside from their shared military history, their love of camping keeps these families rekindling the same friendships year after year.
“You get to be kind of a family,” he said.
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