In a post in May, I laid down my promise to myself to return to the tent city in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. In July, I fulfilled the promise! The day was bright and sunny, and I had hoped to be able to go later when the light was better, but I did my best. The most exciting part was being invited into a tent by a friendly couple from Arizona who has been coming every summer for decades. Perhaps this could be the start of a photography project. I’ll have to see how I feel next summer.
One winter early in my photographic career, I happened upon the dormant tent city surrounding the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Not knowing much about it, it was a curiosity, and the bare platforms and empty frames afforded an hour or two of interesting photography. The following summer I passed through it in all its glory. The tents were occupied for the season, and they were decked out with furniture, flowers, and lawn ornaments. If you didn’t know the walls were canvas, you would think you were looking at an enclave of miniature Victorian houses.
I had plans to return the next summer to photograph the neighborhood when the tents were occupied by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. I never got around to it, nor did I get around to it the summer after that. This summer I swear I will. To get the momentum flowing, I visited recently to familiarize myself with the area and to judge when the light would be good and from what angles. I was struck by the irony of so many “welcome” signs near so many “no trespassing”signs. The photos you see here are some of the results, and I look forward to returning later and maybe even meeting and photographing some of the occupants.
According to an article in New Jersey Monthly, the 114 tents are occupied each summer by members of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. They come to participate in the Methodist Church’s summer programs of worship and community fellowship.