Ocean Grove's Tent Colony
One of the things that continues to make Ocean Grove a unique community is the colony of tents and the people who occupy them in the summer months. Many of today's "tenters" are fifth and sixth generation tent families who would not trade the summer life style for anything.
As the name implies, Camp Meetings were just that, camp grounds were visitors lived in tents during the summer months to attend the religious meetings held on the grounds. Because of its many groves of trees, especially pines, Ocean Grove, which got its name from the tree groves, was a perfect retreat. Visitors were able to escape the heat of the big cities in the summer and live a more simple life in the tents which surrounded the squares where the meetings were held. Originally Ocean Grove's meetings were open air, with the worshipers sitting on rough hewn pine benches in a semi circle around a "preacher's stand" capable of seating up to 75 ministers.
However, as Ocean Grove grew in size and popularity, permanent structures began replacing the tents and many of the groves of trees were cut down to provide room for the building. Of the original 600 tents only 114 exist today. The fully modernized tents today have a wooden back room, with modern facilities including bathrooms, kitchens and sleeping space. The structure provides a place to store the canvass tents in the winter as well as providing the tenters a place to store their personal belongings. Then in the spring the tents are taken out and placed over their wood frames on the front of the platform. When the summer residents return to their tents they bring out their rugs, furniture and personal items and begin the process of decorating their canvas parlors. Many of the tenters plant gardens and individualize and personalize their tents by painting the porch rails, adding furniture and also decorative elements. Although living in a canvass tent for three months of the year provides little privacy from their neighbors at times, the tenters relish their unique community and return year after year.
For a little fun, check out this great panarama multi-media image by Brian Richards: