After much thought and consideration, my project is a three-way partnership, so to speak, involving NH Foster & Adoptive Parent Association, Copper Cannon Camp and the membership of the NH I.O.O.F.
My primary goal is to provide a high-quality camp experience to foster children that don’t have the financial ability or the family stability and to assist during their time at camp by enlisting willing Odd Fellows and affiliates to help with camp duties to keep down the cost, thereby maximizing the number of children we can support.
The NH Foster and Adoptive Parents association supports foster children in NH by supporting foster parents and providing a consistent strong voice on behalf of all children. Basically, this caring association will receive the donated program funds I collect throughout my term and choose the children that will receive offers to attend camp. The number of recipients and duration of their stay at camp will depend on the amount I am able to collect.
Copper Cannon Camp, located in Bethlehem, NH, will be where the children attend camp. Copper Cannon was founded in 1963 by Hamilton Ford, Franconia, NH. Ham overcame an underprivileged childhood, while he was young he received the opportunity to attend a summer camp and that had a long-lasting impact on his life. Later in life, Ham decided he would pay the experience forward and give back what he had received as a child. He owned a ski lodge and started bringing in children from local orphanages during the summer months to provide them with a summer camp experience. This grew into the present organization that, at its present Bethlehem location, sits next to the White Mountain National Forest on a 128-acre plot. Copper Cannon has offered initial planned dates for a weekend in May 2019, this might change to a week in June depending on funding, for the foster children to attend camp, with planned activities, meals, cabins, etc. Copper Cannon and NH Foster & Adoptive Parents Association will work together so that we get as many foster children to camp as our funding allows, plus Copper Cannon has a history of providing free camp to children as well, with grants, etc., which will help with our goal.
The third partner is us. Working with Copper Cannon Camp, by volunteering to assist with camp duties, we can all keep the cost down to get more children to enjoy and learn from this experience. I believe that by helping, we can all experience the camp fellowship with the children and make a lasting impression with them and us as well.
The program I will be pushing for this coming year will be for our order. As of January 2018, the NH jurisdiction of Odd Fellows Lodges is at an all-time low in membership, at 415 paying members and 20 lodges. My goal this year is to grow our membership. I will be handing out applications and asking all of us to go out and ask a friend, family member, etc. to join. I will be asking each lodge to actively recruit quality membership, have an open house, etc. The Grand Lodge will support this effort by assisting with anywhere we are asked to. I plan on holding at least 2 School of Instructions and as many degree days as are necessary, with the help of each lodge. We, as an organization, need to get all the great things we do in our communities out to the public. Please work with your local media news outlets and get your pictures published so that NH knows we are here and that we help. This alone, will help drive new membership as much as anything. Be present in your community parades, old home-days, fairs, etc. Let’s grow membership together. I will be asking each lodge to forward any public announcements they wish to share, to the Grand Secretary. Once received, a committee will be formed that will work on getting the message out to a statewide outlet.