Cowboy camp meetings are over a hundred years old in Texas, but the ones held in the Southwest area were started by Ralph Hall 77 years ago. He was a preacher, a missionary with a dream of teaching God’s Word to all of the ranch people of the West. He was sponsored by the Presbyterian church. Ralph Hall established many Sunday Schools, churches, young people conferences, and cowboy camp meetings during his fifty plus years of spreading the Gospel.
One of the first New Mexico camp meetings was at Nogal Mesa, East of Carrizozo, New Mexico in August of 1940. Nogal Mesa was chosen because the spot “made you want to remove your hat.” Their organizing committee decided cooks would be hired, benches would be donated and tents would be provided for services. There would be four prayer meetings under the tent. There were 120 in attendance at the first meeting and by the last day, 700 were fed in a little over an hour. Five whole beefs were consumed in five days, all cooked over an open fire.
Ministers of many [denominations] come to preach. When the people make their professions of faith, they are urged to go back to their homes attend the nearest church and become active Christians.
The Cowboy Camp Meetings are conducted in much the same way today. The local committees are responsible for securing the preachers, music minister, youth minister and other camp staff. The cooks prepare three meals a day. There is no charge but donations are accepted if one feels led to give to the cost of these meetings. The local committees handle the donations for each camp and see that all bills are paid. Nowadays the cost is between seven to fifteen thousand dollars for each camp meeting. Each camp pays an annual assessment fee based on camp registration to the Ranchmen’s Camp Meeting Association which is used for equipment maintenance, replacement and organization coordination.
Any person may go to a camp meeting to receive the great blessing of WORSHIP without distractions. This is a gathering of people from all [Christian denominations] and the preachers and song leaders will be from various denominations. You take your bedroll, tent or R.V… Bring your children and your friends…wear your blue jeans and bring your Bible…come for one service or three or four days…it will be an experience you will never forget.
You can go through the calendar provided on this site to see the schedule for the “Ranchmen’s Camp Meeting Association in the Southwest.” Other camp meeting associations reach into Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.