Camp Meetings, Billy Goats, and Fingernail Polish

The church of my childhood might have been slightly conservative. At least some perceived it that way. My father was a minister in the Rocky Mountain District of said church and, as is typical of preacher’s kids, I may have a slanted view concerning some events.

During the yearly camp meeting sponsored by our district, I created memories that I can still recall in detail. As kids and teenagers, we always had fun during camp. Probably that was not the purpose of the gathering, but, realistically, that’s what happened.

No doubt it was with the thought in mind of making camp meeting a blessing to the kids that someone came up with the idea of engaging a “children’s worker” to provide afternoon sessions for a bunch of squirming children who wanted to be outside enjoying the Colorado sunshine. I’m sure the blessing actually came to my parents who were privileged to have the afternoon free of their own brood, and everyone else’s as well.

I recall quite well one husband and wife “Children’s Evangelists” team. I don’t remember them just because the Missis wore the longest dresses and darkest hosiery I had ever seen, but also because of some of the things they taught us. One song they taught us went:

            A Billy Goat chews on papers and rags,
            Smacks his chops on an old tin can.
            But there’s one thing that a Billy won’t do
            And that’s on a cud of tobacco chew.        

Truly a blessing! I wonder if it could be used now as a “praise chorus?” (We didn’t have any drums and had to make do with a piano, but, who knows, it might work!)

In addition to this little ditty, I remember one lesson presented by long dress, dark hose lady. She talked about pride and the manifestation of such in the evil practice of wearing fingernail polish. Her information had it that women don’t wear nail polish because it’s pretty, but rather because dirt resides beneath the tips of their nails. Of course, the lazy way to get rid of dirt is to hide it. So, like sweeping dirt under a rug, ladies put on bright red nail polish.

This morning as I got ready to go to church, I was, after all of these years, faced with the practical application of this lesson. I’ve been packing for three weeks. My hands are rough and my nails are short. No matter how much I tried, I could not get the tips of my nails to look anything but a mess. So, like the lesson suggested, pride won and ugly is now coated with red.

Clipart from: Free ClipArt Now


  1. I did not attend camp meeting very often, if we went, it was for a service and then we went back home. I do remember one time we attended for a weekend and we stayed in the camp meeting hotel type room. The sink literally fell off the wall and water went everywhere. My parents we not impressed. I can't remember if we stayed or not. Your memories sound much more fun!

    1. Captain Nancy, it was always an interesting experience, especially things like the ringing of the bell in the dorms to get everyone up for early morning prayer meeting.