I have volunteered here twice both times took me on an amazing journey. The most recent one was a journey to find myself. While at Camp Barnabas you have to rely on God and you have to put absolute trust in him. You get so tired that you can't stand any longer and you have to just call out to God. I went wondering where I belonged in my faith. I came back knowing who I was made to be and knowing that God gave me trials because he knew that I needed some polishing. He wanted to give me mountains to climb and valleys to walk through and none of that I had to do alone. I had two campers and as a girl in a guy cabin it was tough it was long and tiring. And even though I was tired I spent one whole night writing letters to people in my cabin because I knew they needed some inspiration and motivation. I even wrote to staff and when I was too tired to work I stayed up all night praying and reading my bible I felt so renewed and so ready to take on what challenges I would be given. The best prayer that I prayed that week was "Lord, please give me mountains to climb". If you go to Camp Barnabas be ready to give with all your heart until you have no more and be ready to keep asking for more energy. Camp Barnabas was amazing and I encourage everyone to go because it is truly a life-changing experience.
The camp is heaven on earth. This year I totally enjoyed getting to be with and share with several campers that I had seen in other years. Also got to meet some new campers. The highlight was after getting one camper to talk to us, we were so excited. An incident happened that made him mad and he internalized for about an 8 hour period. The team work of leadership along with cabin staff, he came out of his mood. He was an absolute joy to be with the remainder of the time. He caledl all of us by our names and that was just to most wonderful feeling. His family was a very loving and kind family as we got to visit with them on closing day. This camp is just one of the most amazing places.
Our son has been going to Camp Barnabas for 8 years now and I can not express enough grattitude for what they do. For 1 week out of the year he is just a typical kid at camp having fun and enjoying life. They provide a wonderful service to the campers and the parents, for many like us that is the only week we are away from our child and it lets my husband and I focuse on just us - with no interruptions. Camp Barnabas is truely a worthy nonprofit. They provide an invaluable expirence for campers who are often on the fringes of society due to an illness or disability which is not of their choosing. Also for the CIA (the campers buddy who is with them the whole week through the good and bad, such as....not sleeping much), it provides a chance to give of themselves in a way that is challenging and lets them grow personally like no other expirence. These campers are kids who don't have friends, they are not asked to go places or to do activities such as a movie and when they go to camp and realize they are just like everyone else, that they are worthy and loved it opens their life to a whole new world. As a parent I truely believe Camp Barnabas is the best experience my child has ever had and that you could not find a better nonprofite for your Children and Families award. Thank you, Robin Gunter.
I have volunteered at Camp Barnabas for the last 6 summers, and am scheduled to return again this August. The original goal of this camp was 'Kids being Kids' - to provide opportunity for children with special needs the exciting moments of camp life. In the years I have attended, that goal has been met and exceeded. An additional experience has grown out of that goal. That is, ordinary people have continual interaction with special needs. The volunteers are challenged by the lives of the campers in the way that campers live with physical limitations, but they live excitedly and joyfully. Those campers press themselves into the lives of all around them. I am not aware of any other place that offers that experience to individuals. Camp Barnabas would be a worthy recipient of your recognition.
My daughter with Down syndrome was tremendously changed by her first summer at Camp Barnabas -- her teachers the next fall asked me, "What happened to Sarah this summer? She's so much more outgoing and independent!" Camp Barnabas has been a part of our family ever since! Two siblings have also attended and one of those is now going as a counselor.
This camp is so much more than a 'summer camp' for kids with special needs. My son with DS has been to camp & loves being able to spend time with 'kids like him.' At this camp, the focus is on everything our kids CAN do, not their limitations. It is empowering for the campers.
Our 12 year old son has Down Syndrome and has very limited speech as well as ADHD. We have never been able to really relax on a vacation with him because he is so active. Camp Barnabas was a genuine answer to prayer. After touring the camp, we enrolled our son for the following summer. We were worried that he might miss us or be too much for the camp staff to handle. However, as soon as he arrived at camp, he pushed us out the door and never looked back. His "buddy" and all of the camp staff took care of our precious son and insured he had a great time. He was sad to leave Camp Barnabas and asks about it all the time. We had 6 days of peaceful rest while Sam was at camp. We knew he was safe, having fun and enjoying his "independence". He is already enrolled for this summer and is looking forward to camp again. My husband, daughter and I can truly relax guilt-free during our "vacation" knowing Sam is having such a fabulous time as well. The camp was clean, well managed and staffed with incredible people. They were prepared for every concern we had such as medical needs, safety, and general fun factor. We loved Camp Barnabas and can't say enough wonderful things about the Teas and the outstanding camp that ministers to the child as well as their families.