Dear Fellow Moravians,
I would like to talk about a very special place to me, Camp Hope (officially called Hope Conference & Renewal Center.) For those who have had the pleasure of experiencing Camp Hope, I want you to close your eyes for a few seconds and think about your time there. It’s okay, I’ll wait…feels good, doesn’t it?
There are very few places that can conjure up such emotion with a simple memory. You see, I am not only writing to you as the Chair of the Hope Conference Center Board of Management but also as a lifelong camper. Camp Hope made me the person I am today. As a kid, it was the only place where I could be myself. More importantly, it was a spiritual place that brought me closer to God. It’s this relationship that keeps bringing me back year after year. It’s what drew me to serve on the Board and, now, to serve as its Chair.
I am pleased to tell you there are exciting things happening here! We continue to get overwhelmingly positive responses from the campers. We have a new, enthusiastic camp director, Sue Dreydoppel. Many of you know her already from her role as assistant administrator. We have a very strong and diverse Board of Management. We are creating Special Interest Committees to get more people involved. We have improved our communication with the Moravian community via our Facebook page. (You can like us at Hope Conference and Renewal Center, NJ.) And we now have Wi-Fi in the Upper Lodge and Hassler Hall! We are doing all this to improve the camp experience and to make the camp better. With your help, we can take Camp Hope to another level of experience, availability and spiritual fulfillment.
Of course, we cannot do this without a strong Board and that is what we have! Not only is the Board up to the task but our diversity gives us strength. Our board includes pastors and lay members, men and women from many areas of the Eastern District. We’re fortunate to have two contractors, an architect, an EMS coordinator, a teacher, a former nurse and the founding members of Northeast Moravian Disaster Relief (NEMDR). It is this group that has been working hard to make changes, and they continue to volunteer their time and effort for the good of Camp Hope.
One of the many things the Board has been working on has been the permanent staff structure. Camp Hope has transitioned over the years from a summer camp with the occasional off-season rental to a year-round camp facility. While this is, indeed, good news, we found that there was very little to no down time for the two permanent staff positions, which led to fatigue and burnout. The Board, therefore, created three new positions where there were once two.
We now have a full-time director (Sue Dreydoppel), who is in charge of the overall camp experience, and a full-time caretaker, who is responsible for the physical buildings and grounds. The third position is an administrative assistant, who is part-time seasonal and will handle the office duties. By splitting the physical camp duties and the programmatic responsibilities, we hope to free up both full-time positions to focus on their respective demanding roles.
Another area of change for Camp will come in the area of fundraising. Did you know that the last major fundraising promotion was in 2007? The Great Recession was the main culprit. It is thanks to the work of previous boards and staff and to the spirit of Camp Hope that the camp endured through those lean years. In 2017, however, we will be launching a new funding campaign to keep things strong.
Donations will go toward numerous projects we are undertaking this year. Now that the weather is turning in our favor we will start the renovation of the beach volleyball court. We are also creating new staff housing facilities in Hassler Hall. The cabins need a little TLC, which we will endeavor to complete prior to the new camping season this year. Your support is greatly appreciated!!
There is a lot to be excited about at Camp Hope and we hope these additions and others to come will take us to another level of experience and spirituality. I leave you with Camp Hope’s mission statement:
A Christian outdoor ministry of the Moravian Church, providing programs and facilities for people of all ages to experience opportunities for community and spiritual growth.
For those who believe that Camp Hope is only about the Moravian youth, think again! Our mission statement says for “people of all ages,” with programs for youth, adults, and families. Camp Hope is for all! Camp Hope is for you!
Shawn Billiard is Chair of the Board of Management of Hope Conference and Renewal Center, a member of Egg Harbor City Moravian Church, and a lifelong camper at Camp Hope.