Camp Barnabas - My Family Travels

The day was scorching but that did not have my focus; overwhelming joy, anxiety, grief, and enthusiasm all filled my body in one moment. Not knowing what I should be thinking or feeling, I stood there numb waiting for the campers to arrive. I waited in anticipation on the burning concrete path as the cars pulled up, it seemed as though the line of cars stretched for miles. One by one the doors opened and the campers arrived they had different ways of getting out of their gleaming cars, but the smile on all their precious faces was identical. Having the opportunity of a lifetime, this week I had the chance to give these kids a week they would never forget.

            This summer I made a long journey from Anchorage, Alaska to Purdy, Missouri to be a counselor at Camp Barnabas. An extraordinary camp located in the rolling hills of the Ozarks Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp that deals exclusively with special needs kids and adults the focus is presenting them a week of camp not obtainable anywhere else. Camp Barnabas allows people with various disabilities to attend a week of camp and do things they thought they never could accomplish. The week I attended, June 26- July 1, involved kids seven to seventeen with numerous disabilities and their siblings. Having various disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, Autism, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, and many more, the kids were astonishing. The campers participated in activities such as canoeing, horseback riding, archery, riflery, swimming, high ropes courses and much more! Every night had a different theme such as Candyland, Cranium, Clue, and western, everyone would dress up according to the theme and play games and have an enormous amount of fun. Allowing them to feel normal and enjoy themselves, Paul and Cindy Teas created Camp Barnabas to meet the needs of these wonderful kids and adults.

I got the opportunity to be a sibling’s cabin counselor, which meant that there were 10 girls ages 6-11 that all had siblings with various disabilities. Initially hearing that I was in a sibling’s cabin I became disappointed, my expectations were to help a child with special needs. I realized through talking to the other counselors in my cabin that this was in actuality a huge need, and frequently overlooked. My camper’s name was Brooke she was 10 and her brother was in a wheelchair and mentally retarded due to a motorboat accident. I really pondered it, she did not have a special need physically, but her need was emotional. These sibling’s parents give so much attention to their other children that sometimes the siblings may often feel neglected and require attention. For one week I had the chance to give all of my time and attention to one girl who desperately needed me, realizing in the process that I was the one who truly needed her. The best blessing was that I not only got to spend time with Brooke but also got to spend time with her brother and all the other kids.

Camp Barnabas, a chance to give up my time and share my joy, has been the highlight of my life. Seeing these kids and their happiness through all their many tribulations, taught me appreciation of all that I posses and all my abilities. I am so blessed with my life, and often take that for granted, thinking it is just what I deserve.  in actuality I truly deserve nothing.  I got a chance to share Christ with these kids, which gave me more than I could ever give them.


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