Rock Springs meeting runs deep in their blood

The Rock Springs camp meeting ended last Sunday with evening worship. After two weeks, families began packing and heading back to air-conditioned modern life.

"We joke and say that the week after campground is the 'week of depression,' " said Leslie McIntosh, an English teacher and mom of two who has attended the camp meeting since her youth. For the first few days at home following the annual gathering, the family misses its swing, the homemade ice cream and the visiting - all part of campground tradition.

When there isn't a worship service under the central arbor, tenters visit each other. Some walk around, while others prefer to sit on the swings or benches outside their tents and receive visitors. Some folks are "lappers" and some are "sitters," McIntosh said.

But the draw of camp meeting goes deeper than its simple pleasures.

"It's kinda hard to explain," said McIntosh.

"You have to get immersed in it."

If anyone is immersed in the camp meeting tradition, it's the McIntosh family. Leslie, whose last name used to be Sigmon, attended with her aunt and uncle. Her husband, Brian, is one of four brothers who, along with their families, make up the 13 people in their three-story tent. Two of Brian's grandparents own tents at Rock Springs. Brian's brother, Jason, was married at the campground. Brian and Leslie had their son baptized there.

And the camp meeting is where Brian and Leslie met, 16 years ago.

As a teen, Leslie enjoyed the youth services, held every night. Amid the spirit of renewal at the campground, the youth services were especially moving, she said.

Rooted in the Methodist church, the camp meeting involves several Denver-area churches, including Fairfield United Methodist, the McIntosh family's church.

Teens from many schools converge on the site of the two-centuries-old camp meeting. Although they didn't know each other, Brian and Leslie had a mutual friend.

Camp meeting is like that. Denver has grown, so not everyone knows each other. But the annual gathering is a chance to make new acquaintances and renew old ones.

"Even if you don't know them personally, you have that bond; you both love camp meeting," McIntosh said.

You might think it would be hard to keep children entertained. But just the opposite is true, said McIntosh. Their kids run from tent to tent, visiting old friends and making new ones.

"At the end of the two weeks, you're exhausted from the heat and staying up late," she said. But as any Rock Springs tenter will tell you, it's worth it.

As McIntosh put it, "It's in your blood."