We're excited to announce that we will be opening our in-person after school programs this fall! As we're all adjusting to the new normal, we have had to change our approaches to a lot of things. Students and staff have to adjust to wearing masks and not being able to touch each other. (One of the biggest complaints from our younger students was that they couldn't hug each other or give high fives!) Parents are facing difficult decisions of whether or not to send their children to school. It's almost like we live in a different world now than we did in February.
With all of these things in mind, we've decided it is important for us to continue serving families through our after school programs, keeping with all of the regulations around corona of course. After seeing how these adaptations had to be made during the summer, we feel even more prepared to make sure that everyone has a safe experience at Noah or Nehemiah After School.
This year's theme is Walk in His Authority and we will continue to focus on how God is in control and we can overcome the world because He is greater than the world. We will have to adapt how our after school programs operate to allow for social distancing, temperature checks, and other necessary safety procedures. However, this is also opening up new ways of engaging volunteers and students. We are looking into virtual mentoring for students starting this fall. We want to create an opportunity for people who don't feel comfortable (or for whom it isn't safe) to show up in person to be able to connect with students. This is a great opportunity for students to get individualized attention and develop positive, discipling relationships.
We're excited to continue to move forward and provide support to families in North Hartford!
We were able, through partnership with World Vision, to help families with some food assistance, including fruit and vegetables, milk, dairy products, and meat. This assistance is so necessary during this time where so many have lost jobs, had to adjust to changing child care needs, and so many other difficulties we are all facing.
Our staff did an outstanding job leading our campers through a Camp Noah that looked and felt very different than normal. They were able to be flexible as we adjusted to added cleaning needs, mask requirements, social distancing and more. Our leadership staff was very impressed by how well these young people not only managed themselves, but also groups of campers who had been stuck in their houses since March. Station leaders had to be creative in how to implement plans and follow all of the COVID-19 guidelines. Team leaders had to deal with giving constant mask and distancing reminders. AND they did all of it with a smile! We were so pleased with our team of staff and volunteers.
While camp wasn't normal (after all, we couldn't see campers beautiful smiles or even give high-fives), campers were grateful to be out of their house and around their friends. We found ways to have fun, learn about God, and encourage each other throughout the summer.
We couldn't have done this without the support of all of our donors, families, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters! Thank you for making Camp Noah possible.
Last week we had our last Zoom sessions with students. As we wrap up this time, we want to highlight some great things that happened.
In April, we started using Zoom and Seesaw to deliver our curriculum. It was an adjustment for everyone, including our staff, but the students did a great job adjusting and staying connected. We're super proud of our students for making all of the adjustments with school and our programs!
In the first week, we reviewed and wrapped up our Respect unit, which we had started before our in-person programs shut down. Students submitted work demonstrating how they could honor people in their households and what respect means to them.
Next we focused on Peace. What is peace? How can we have it? What does God have to do with it? Psalm 91 has been an encouragement to all of us as we've been dealing with all of the issues going on in our country. If you haven't already seen it, you can check out the video we made here.
We were able to have some great conversations with our students about having peace in uncertain times and how Jesus is with us always and cares about all of our problems. We had lots of fun on Fridays we played games, watched movies, and even had a talent show. It was great to see all of our students each week and continue teaching them about how much God loves them.
We ended the year talking about responsibility. What does it mean to be responsible? How can we be responsible? Why should we be responsible? With all of the online learning and being at home, students have had to take on more personal responsibility. The unit was right on time to help them process how to manage all of the new things they were having to deal with.
Throughout our time online with the students, we did skits, watched videos, had discussions and did many other activities. One really cool thing that came out of this time happened when we did a skit about responsibility. In the original skit, a boy made a really poor choice and had to deal with the consequences of his actions. When we finished the skit, some of the students asked if they could rewrite it to show the boy making the right choice. We spent time during the next several sessions rewriting the skit and discussing the consequences of doing the wrong vs. the right thing. They had ideas about how to be responsible that were creative and inspiring! (We recorded both skits and will be posting them to Facebook soon.)
Overall, while online programming isn't what we wanted to do, God used it to continue to speak to the students and several students accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior over zoom! We're excited to see what God is going to do this summer as we move out of online programming and back into our in-person Camp Noah.
We recently wrapped up our YL weekly sessions for summer break with a great Zoom session filled with games and prizes. Many of our students finished as winners. We want to congratulate our 2 high school graduates! Continue to keep them in prayer as they move on in life and continue to keep God's Holy Word in their hearts.
Summertime normally means a break in programming for our YoungLife students due to staff being busy with Camp Noah. This summer, we're trying something different to stay connected and keep developing disciples. This summer we're excited to announce our YL Summer Mentoring program. Our YL volunteers have been paired up with one or more students. They'll be checking in with their students at least once a week and regularly discipling them throughout the summer. This new program will keep HCM connected will all of our high school students throughout the summer, not just the ones on staff at camp. Volunteers and students are excited to stay connected in this way!
We're excited to announce that this summer's theme will be: Walk in His Authority! In the uncertain times that we live in, it is important to remember that we are walking under the authority of Christ. He's the one we need to trust. Not in systems or governments or man. Throughout the summer, our main topics will be:
We hope that you will join us in praying for Camp Noah this summer. If you aren't sure how to pray, here are some specific things you can pray for:
Camp Noah is going to be very different this summer, and we believe God is going to use it to do something very powerful in the lives of our campers!
As we are continuing to adjust to "distance learning", we are encouraged to continue to work with our Young Life students and volunteers. The volunteers have done an amazing job remaining engaged and continuing to build relationships with our students. We will continue to cultivate those relationships and encourage opportunities for prayer, discipleship and fellowship.
This week at Young Life, one of our students, Kody, shared a gospel message about having hardened hearts. After the message, students and leaders felt led to share their testimonies about how God has worked in each person's life and how each person's relationship with Christ is different. The Bible says that we will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies (Rev. 12:11). Each one of these student and leaders' testimonies will serve as a catalyst to encourage each other to trust in God. That even when we're apart from each other, the word of God is still powerful and true. Take time this week to share a testimony with someone in your circle to continue this practice of encouragement and evangelism.
As we were praying about what unit we should focus on next with our After School Students, we felt led to one of the fruit of the Spirit: peace. So many things have changed and it's been a difficult transition for a lot of us. Our kids feel it too as they are adjusting to doing school online, not being able to see their friends, and being stuck inside. Now more than ever, we need to remember that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (our) hearts and (our) minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NIV)."
True peace is knowing that God is in control of everything and trusting that He is good. Sometimes we struggle to remember that God is good when difficult things are happening. Whether we know people affected by the Coronavirus or who are struggling with job changes or loss, it can be hard to remember that God is good and that He's working everything out for good, even in this.
This week we focused on Psalm 91:1-2 "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” It's a great reminder that God doesn't leave us alone when things are difficult. He's right here with us during this time. God is using this time to draw us closer to Him. All of our normal distractions are gone, stress levels are high, and God is waiting for us to draw near to Him.
In His presence is where we can find all of the comfort and peace that we need. Join us as we seek to draw near to God and remember that even when we can't see it, He is still moving!
Last week, Hartford City Mission started our online learning curriculum. We were able to spend some facetime with our students and provide some fun, interactive assignments to help them engage with what we're learning about. We spent some time getting settled into the software with some fun games and activities. Look at the pictures below for some highlights.
Join us in continuing to pray for and support our families during this week. Hartford has spring break this week, so online learning is paused with the schools, some services will look different this week. We are planning to celebrate Spring break with some fun virtual games during the week.
Hartford City Mission, has been looking for ways to continue to deliver excellent God-centered programming to our children and their families while keeping everyone home and safe. We're excited to announce that, beginning on Monday, April 6, Hartford City Mission will be providing face-to-face Bible Lessons and check-ins with our students via Zoom as well as offering interactive activities through an app called Seesaw.
Each day of the week, our goal is to have a face-to-face interaction with each student, to continue with our Bible-based curriculum for this year, and providing meaningful opportunities for students to engage with what they are learning.
One thing we know for sure is that God is still working. He doesn't keep his distance from us. In fact, He's just waiting for us to seek Him in this time where distractions and excuses have been removed. We hope that you will join us in drawing near to the Lord at this time as we continue to introduce our families and communities to the Great Physician during this time of crisis.
Stay tuned to our social media pages for updates on how our virtual, interactive programming is transforming the lives of our children and families.
If you don't already know, Young Life is a weekly youth group program for our high school students. Each week Mr. Jarrad, along with a group of wonderful volunteers, play games, eat a meal, and bring a message from the Bible to share with our students. Since the fall, more than 20 students have attended Young Life and heard the Gospel message. Recently, three of those students decided to receive the message of salvation and accept Christ into their hearts. Join us as we celebrate and praise God this victory at Young Life.
Along with sharing the gospel message, our staff and volunteers spend time discipling the students and helping them process how the Bible applies to their everyday lives. Students have a space where they feel comfortable to share real things that they are dealing with and get Biblical advice and encouragement on how to move forward. Continue to lift up our students as they are facing many difficult issues and are learning what it really looks like to be a Christian.