In April 2005, our church founded Camp Opportunity as a summer day camp program for children ages 3-12. It was immediately apparent this was a needed ministry to our community and in August of that year we decided to continue throughout the school year, as a preschool program. As the 2005-2006 school-year neared an end, parents requested that we not only continue, but add kindergarten for the fall.
Our program began with 16 campers in 2005 and 4 preschool students that fall. This past June we closed our school year program with 11 students (7 of whom re-registered for the next school year), and opened our summer camp with 20 registrations each week.
Our school children are testing 1-2 years ahead of the local public kindergarten classes. They are reading and printing, doing 1st grade math, and loving science. They have learned some sign language, and are beginning Spanish. In light of those results, parents and many community leaders encouraged us to take the next step. Thus we have begun New Hope Academy: Christian, Classical, Cutting Edge. New Hope Academy began offering primary and secondary level education to the children of Northeast Connecticut commencing Tuesday September 4, 2007.
We use two sets of curricula, both award-winning and highly respected: VERITAS Press [Classical education at its best today] (all grades) and Alpha Omega Publications’ Switched on Schoolhouse [accredited and using cutting edge technology] beginning in the third grade. We have conferred with Connecticut’s Department of Education and they have assured us we are in compliance. Connecticut chooses to give great freedom to private schools. We meet the health and safety codes for buildings used for children, have passed every annual state inspection for our day camp (we are a state licensed day camp), with a 100% compliance rating. Our current staff is comprised of individuals with university degrees, decades of experience educating children, and a passion for this mission.
2003 Teen Invasion Camp Opportunity Learning Center
(ages 13-17) – the kids meet every Thursday (led by Youth Pastor Steve Poudrette & his team). They listen to music, watch videos, and discuss their lives and its challenges; they play board games, ping-pong & darts; they take field trips, do community service, and conclude with a Biblical message and Bible study. In 2003 there were 4 teens, now more than 12 gather each week.
Pastor Bill was invited by Bruce Dexter to start a Christian discussion group in his office at 6:00 am on Wednesday mornings. His office is on Westcott Road in Danielson. What started with a few guys having a discussion group evolved into a bible study and prayer meeting. It has become a source of strength and inspiration for as many as 35 men every Wednesday morning since (written in 2009). In 2007 we began a Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 pm meeting as well. In the November 2009 we began a second time of prayer on Thursday mornings @ 6:00 am.
2005 Summer Day Camp
- a licensed six week experience in July & August. In 2005 we averaged 19 children each week (ages 6-12). 2006 will offer more spaces (ages 7-12), including a Kinder-Unit (ages 3-6). A Counselor in Training unit will be available if we have at least 4 in that age group (ages 13 -14).
- Camp Programs include: nature, swimming, field games, music and crafts, as well as teacher facilitated learning centers. The learning centers are to help campers retain or improve their learning levels throughout the summer months.
- “Camp” continues during the three weeks of school vacation: Christmas, February & Spring Vacations.
- 4H Club: (ages 7-18) – programs include: Photography, Astronomy, Crafts, Nature/Hiking, and of course our Cooking class continues. A Christian-based club, open to all kids, regardless of race, gender, culture or religion, with a “discovery” approach. Simply put, the team works within the format of 4H to help youth discover new possibilities and interests.
2006 – 2007 New Hope Academy
Officially opening its doors on September 4, 2007, New Hope Academy offers a Christian, Classical and Cutting Edge private educational option to students of all ages in Northeastern Connecticut and the adjacent communities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. NHA is a product of the Summer Camp program which so caught the imagination of the Parents that they requested we start a year around educational program. For the school’s mission and program details, please visit the school website at : http://www.newhopeacademyct.org .
2008 New Hope Community Food Co-Op.
In September, NHCM began the process of becoming a “Host Site” for Angel Food Ministries. October 29th was the first “Food Drop Off”. 9Program is no longer active…)There were no restrictions on who can order food. This provided a much needed affordable food source to the people of northeast Connecticut. In September there were 24 units ordered, October 54, November 78, December 104, January 2009 – 140, February 178.
June 2009 – Basement Renovation
Renovation to Downstairs of Church In June, just two weeks before Camp was to begin, it was decided to move one wall in the rear of the building to make a new classroom for next fall students. The plan was to make the Kitchen smaller by half. To accomplish this it was necessary to remove a few cabinets to accommodated the new wall. We figured it would take a couple days to finish the job.
Then it was discovered the floor under the cabinets was badly rotted and needed replacement. This short term project turned into a mammoth rehab project that took the whole summer. The whole floor under the kitchen and 1/3 of the dining hall had to be replaced. This meant the entire Kitchen and adjoining floor had to be gutted as far back as the renovations made in 1997. The kitchen was moved to the downstairs front storage room. The crawl space under the floor was filled with 27 yards of gravel and then a new weight bearing footing and a 4 inch concrete floor was poured.
August 2009 – Tuesday evening at 7:00pm we began a Fund
With little exception, the newcomers are not only much younger, but many are from a Roman Catholic or a non-church background. For them the old, much loved hymns, prayers, and traditions are truly foreign. Through God all are loving the mix, and loving each other.
Tomorrow and Beyond
So much has already been accomplished in so little time. We have grown from six, to twelve, to over fifty. From one child to many, all eager and hungry to learn and be loved. From no real adult Christian Education class to one with over 16 active members. From a single Sunday morning service, to a weeknight service with fellowship supper, a “UB Healthy” support group, a women’s craft time group, an active American Baptist Women’s group, an excited music ministry, and requests for more. Our church is just beginning, even though its roots go back to 1776. We want our pastors to be able to afford to be here full-time, not split between another full-time position and here. God has certainly kept our Senior Pastor in good health and energy, and we believe He will continue to do so, but our efforts are directed toward increasing our funding so as to be able to meet his expenses, and allow him to “retire” from his other position. We have visions of more community outreach: a youth center, a Christian Reading Room / Library open to the community; a village shop where people could market their handicrafts and fellowship together like the “General Store” of yesterday — what an opportunity for spreading the Gospel.
We still have much to do: repairing and renovating, reviving and renewing people as well as buildings. The church is growing, the community is watching and helping and our Father’s business goes on building His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.