Digital Collections Spotlight #37: Hope, New Jersey

Posted February 28, 2023 in Digital Access

Digital Collections Spotlight #37: Hope, New Jersey

Drawings and Print Collection (DP oversize 13) “General Plan Moravian Church Camp, Camp Hope Eastern district Moravian Church Hope Township New Jersey”

This unusually shaped map from the 1970s shows the layout of Camp Hope Conference and Renewal Center, a facility operated by the Moravian Church in New Jersey, where a range of events, perhaps most notably summer camps for children, has been hosted from 1947 to the present day.

Interestingly the Moravian presence in the area long predates the camp on account of its namesake, the nearby town of Hope, having once been a Moravian settlement. During the 1740s Moravian missionaries traveling in New Jersey came into contact with Samuel Green and his family, settlers living on the site of the later community, and in 1749 the Greens traveled to Bethlehem and joined the Moravian Church before returning to their home. Later, in 1768, Samuel Green offered his land to the Moravians as a site for a new community and the church agreed to purchase it for $1000 the following year the Moravian town of Hope was established. For a time the community thrived, seeing the construction of a number of buildings including a mill and the establishment of a girls’ school in 1780, but as time passed the communities population began to dwindle. By 1808 the church chose to sell the land as part of efforts to pay off the debts left after the death of Count Zinzendorf.

While Hope continued to exist as a small town the Moravian Church would have limited presence there until, in the 1940s, they began searching for a location where they could purchase land for the establishment of a summer camp for children. After searching for a suitable property the Church purchased an 82-acre farm alongside Little Silver Lake near Hope and it was on this land that the camp of the same name was established. Over time the facilities were prepared, including extensive volunteer work performed by people from throughout the Moravian Church in North America and the purchase of army surplus from WWII such as cots and entire buildings, as dismantling and moving them to Camp Hope was less expensive than new construction. Camp Hope operated with great success for a time but by the 1970s the Church decided to sell the camp on account of declining attendance and rising operational costs. However, after several years without anyone purchasing the land, and in light of extensive campaigning and fundraising by camp supporters, the Church chose to change course, not only keeping the camp open but ultimately expanding the land and improving the facilities. As a result, instead of the location only being suitable for summer camps it can operate throughout the year and be used for other events such as retreats, and in this form it continues today to be a valuable and much-loved part of the Moravian Church.

Further Reading:

Camp Hope website: Accessed 2/1/2023

French, Mio “History of Hope, New Jersey” The Inn at Mill Race Pond. Accessed 2/1/2023

Schattschneider, Allen W. “HOPE, NEW JERSEY AND THE MORAVIAN CAMP.” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 24 (1986): 83–108. Accessed 2/1/2023