Meet Jocelyn, a 14-year-old who heard about the needs in the Camp Barnabas camper scholarship program and wanted to help. With the help of family and her local community, Jocelyn found sponsors and organized a fundraising variety show event, Talent for Campers, taking place on January 14, 2017, to raise money to send more campers to Camp Barnabas this summer. Join Jocelyn in changing lives by coming out to the event in Neosho, MO or donating at campbarnabas.org/donate.
At age 11, Hunter already knew the true meaning of Christmas and giving. Instead of Christmas presents last year, she asked that her family donate to Camp Barnabas and scholarship a first-time camper to experience a week of camp. “For Christmas this year, I got to know that I sent a kid to experience camp. To know that she is super happy and is going to have a good experience. That was the best Christmas present I could get," Hunter shared. Thanks Hunter for setting the example and blessing others at Christmas.
Barnabas Changed Me
July 13, 2016
If I am being completely transparent with you, going into our week at Camp Barnabas was one of the scariest times of my life. I read on paper what to expect, but upon arrival it hit home. By the end of the first day, I laid awake in my bunk sobbing and praying to God that He would take this cup from me because I couldn’t handle it. By the time camper arrival was here I struggled so hard to be enthusiastic! It was like a scene from a movie and I was watching myself in the third person. Everything was kind of muffled and the sound of my own heartbeat was drowning all the cheering out. I kept trying to stay focused as the campers arrived. I have never felt so much conflicting emotion. I was taken back by how amazing this was. It was royal treatment! Roll out the red carpet because the campers are here! While I was astonished at what was happening I was also so fearful of what lay ahead. I kept my ear to Joe waiting for him to announce, “Adam from B5!”
Finally, he did!
I ran out to meet Adam and suddenly everything all at once came back into focus. All of my fear, all of my anxiety all dissipated in an instant. I walked Adam back to our cabin and began to help him unpack and meet his parents. I kept fighting back tears. I am so ashamed to admit that going into this I was literally in fear of disability. I had this idea that these people were different. I had this misguided, ignorant idea that I was here to serve the “least of these.” As if I was somehow elevated to a different level because I am “normal.” Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if I ever have or have ever had the intention of treating anyone any differently, but I realized there was this subconscious mindset that dwelled within me as I began to learn throughout the week.
As the week went on, I did things that I remember having conversations with people about not being able to do (helping people go to the bathroom, shower, etc.) I learned a very valuable lesson from that. God will not give you more than you can handle. I like to think that God might have had a smirk on His face as I dove in! God also taught me true servanthood. To not just be hearers of the Word, but also doers. God taught me patience.
However, the biggest thing God taught me was that I was just wrong. These people are not the “least of these.” These people are just like you and I. We are all God’s beautiful children uniquely made in His image.
Barnabas changed me.
By the end of the week I was ready to stay for the rest of the summer. Just in the couple of weeks we have been back, I view things so much more differently. In fact, we have a little guy with CP in our VBS program. Andy (one of the youth leaders who came with me to CB) and I have him in our group (coincidence? I think not.) We get to serve him this week. We both looked at each other and said, “dude, I miss camp!”
I have sat down with all of my youth and there is so much going on the lives of each individual, but they all were so greatly impacted. They have experienced some stuff that I honestly thought would drive them away from wanting to take part in this ministry opportunity. Everyone walked away impacted and changed by God. So, I wasn’t the only one.
I want to thank you. I want to thank the staff at CB. I want to thank all the volunteers. I, also, want to thank Matty and Curtis in B5. Those two were amazing. I was so moved by their leadership and their hearts for the Lord and the ministry at Barnabas. Those two were so awesome and were so encouraging and lead us so well. I was in fear that they were going to be the type that kind of threw us newbies to the wolves but they dove right in with us. They are some true servants.
So, with all of that said I just wanted you to know that my fears, my false preconceived notions has all since been washed away. I was just ignorant.
Love is Patient
“My Barnabas Experience”
March 20th, 2016
Love is patient. This is the thing that hangs with my mind and heart every time I think about Camp Barnabas. Love is patient. There is no need for worry, rush, or panic when love is at work. Love consumes this thing we call “time”. It drowns it out with compassion, service, sacrifice, and welcomed nights of little sleep. Love is patient. There is no place in love for can’t, or won’t, or I don’t feel like it. Love is patient and forces your hands, your feet, your words, your mind, and every single emotion you have. Love is patient and makes you encourage others, cry when someone prays, smile when someone laughs, breath even when someone bites, and love makes the hardest situation turn into the sweetest moments of your life. Love is patient and welcomes change, prayers, praise, authenticity, uncomfortable situations, and making the impossible seem completely attainable! Love is patient…Love is Barnabas…Love is Jesus…Love has changed me!
I Corinthians 13:4a
Mike Mrosko, Director of Operations, sat down with George White, Barnabas Prep Director, to learn more about his Barnabas background and Barnabas Prep. Listen to learn more about Barnabas Prep, how it started, where it is at today, and where it is headed in the future.
Hi! My name is Lauren. I started at Camp Barnabas in 1999. I was scared to go to camp again because I almost died from a seizure at a different camp in Texas the year before, but I overcame my fear. Camp Barnabas has strengthened my walk with God and it taught me to take time out of my day, everyday, to do my devotions. I am a twin. I am hoping to get a real job soon. I am involved in a program at a local college, I perform in an annual variety show called Laughing Feet, and I am also a Sunday school teacher. My family started running in 2010. I asked my dad if I could run with him and he said yes. We started on a 5K in 2011, did our first 10K and half marathon in 2012, and then worked up to a full marathon in 2014. We have done three marathons so far. Camp Barnabas has done so much for me. I think this fundraiser helps families who don’t have enough money for a full week of camp for their kid who has a disability. They will get to learn about Christ and they will get to do activities like swimming, crafts and a petting zoo. Many years agao, a nurse had to turn a camper away from a sports camp because this camper didn’t have a leg. This nurse didn’t like turning away that camper. She asked herself, “Why can’t I start a camp for people with disabilities and why can’t their siblings come too?” That’s how Camp Barnabas started. Go Camp Barnabas! Go Team Purple!
Hi! I’m Emily! My favorite thing at camp is swimming and the themed parties. We have Cross Carry for campers who have passed away and we pray for them. I’ve gone to camp as a Ministry Partner and as a camper. I like it there because they care about us and keep everyone safe. Laura and I are best friends because of camp. Camp makes me feel special and I know that God is watching over me and everyone there. Thank you for running the Big Party Half Marathon & 5K!
Hi! I’m Hauk! I’m from Springfield, MO. I like to play hockey and go to school. My favorite thing in school is learning about the Civil War. I love getting to know a bunch of people at Camp Barnabas. I first started going in 2007. It was crazy, insane, loud and fun. Two years ago, my buddy asked if I wanted to do the Big Party Half Marathon & 5K. I said, “Yeah I’ll do it.” The first year, my wheelchair broke when we went over the railroad tracks and everyone helped us finish. It felt really great and just knowing that we accomplished something that we wouldn’t have been able to do felt totally awesome. The Big Party Half Marathon is so much fun and everyone is so friendly. The event brings people together and puts Camp Barnabas in downtown Springfield. It’s amazing.
Hello! My name is Laura! I’m 26 years old and I’m from Van Alstyne, Texas and let me tell you about how I came to Camp Barnabas. I came to Camp Barnabas in 2014 and the first time I went was at Camp Barnabas on the Lake. It was a great experience for me because I thought it would be a good fit for me. Camp Barnabas has changed me in so many ways because I really enjoy getting to know all of the campers. My favorite memory from Camp Barnabas was being an MP (Missionary Partner) and going as a camper. Being a camper at Barnabas on the Lake was so much fun because I enjoyed all of the activites and getting to know all of the campers. I was also a Missionary Partner for two years and it was a blast. Thank you for running the Big Party Half Marathon & 5K!
Mike Mrosko, Director of Operations, sits down with Mindy Frech, Director of Administration, as she shares about her background and how she became apart of Barnabas full-time. Listen in and hear more about the history of our Big Party Half Marathon & 5K fundraiser event, as well as some insights on what to expect at this year's party. Click here for more information about the Big Party Half Marathon & 5K event and join the party!
Sarah Wilson, Missions Director, sat down with Mandy Snodgrass this summer to hear more about her experience serving as a Missionary at Camp Barnabas. Listen to hear more about serving as a counselor, the sibling cabin experience, and how the Lord is working at Camp Barnabas.
Mike Mrosko, Director of Operations, sat down with Teas Trail Camp Director, Jason Frazier, to learn more about his journey to Barnabas, hear about some of his unique hobbies, and pass along some relationship advise from his 15 years of marriage experience. Listen in and learn more about our friend and leader, Jason Frazier, and his heart for Barnabas.
Sarah Wilson, Missions Director at Camp Barnabas, sat down with Matthew this summer as he shares about his experience serving as a Missionary at Camp Barnabas.
This amazing blog post was taken from heidijoan.wordpress.com. She wrote a letter to her new niece, Anna Leigh, about the incredible experiences that she will one day experience at Camp Barnabas. We love this:
Anna Leigh. Sweet Anna Leigh. You have no idea how much your blessing of an existence in our family is. It makes total sense you were placed where you were. And we have a very special spot that is fit just for you.
You came from a family that has devoted a part of their lives to working at this really cool Camp for special children just like you. When I was just 6 years old, your Dad and Aunt Tricia started working there during the summers. It had just opened! And later your Momma started working there, too! I would miss them so much. So much so, your Grandparents would take me down once a week on dance night in the old lodge, so I could visit them. And I think they were equally inspired to witness a new world of love, compassion, and wonder in our own backyard. We would watch your Dad and Aunt Tricia dance their hearts out with their campers, feed them, and take care of any and every need that came up. I knew I would work there one day, too.
And I did, with your Uncle Jake!
We got married there. Your parents met there. Each one of us in the family quite literally found ourselves and found God there. It is the most special place in the world to us. Our 2nd home.
And I think it’s going to be your 2nd home one day, too.
One day, your parents may tell you they’re taking you to Camp Barnabas for a week. I know the thought of that may freak you out. A week without Mom and Dad! No one knows your bedtime routine, what you do and don’t eat, etc like they do. And trust me, it will be hard for Mom and Dad to see you go, too. But here’s the thing, you should go! Anna, you’re going to meet your lifelong, best friends there. You’re going to learn how to do all of these new activities there and most importantly, you’re going to learn about God. And the latest dance moves.
If you decide to go, when you first pull up to Camp through the gates you will be greeted by about 200 screaming college kids that look like a combination of being homeless and being on dru…err…special medicine. I know, I used to be one of them, along with everyone else in the family. Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. They’re just so excited for you to be there! Yeah, they’re at Camp for you, Anna! They gave up vacations, lazy summer days, and road trips to see you! You’ll get out of the car and they’ll give you a great big high-five, or even pick you up and spin you around. Then, they’ll have you run down this long tunnel of people clapping for you Anna! They’ll be shouting your name, giving you hugs, and have the biggest smiles on their faces as you run down. And if the noise bothers you, they’ll celebrate quietly by giving spirit hands.
You’ll walk into the cabin (G2 by the way because that was my cabin every year I worked there) and meet all your new friends. You’ll meet these new people and realize you fit right in. For maybe the first time in your life, you won’t feel different. You may meet an awkward teenage girl that comes up to you and says she’s going to be hanging out with you for the week. She’s probably going to be your counselor and new best friend. But if you notice she is only talking to her friends or the boy in her youth group, just tell me and I’ll handle it.
Oh yeah, can I be your Cabin Mom? I’ll just be in the background. I’ll do your laundry and just be the Mom that hangs out with your Cabin all week. Unless that totally embarrasses you, then I understand. The Cabin Mom is there so you can have the Camp experience, but have an almost Mom there to feel more safe.
Every night, there will be a dance or game. During the day you will get to learn how to fish, canoeing, archery, riflery, and swim in the most amazing pool if you want. The slide in the middle is the fastest. All of these activities I would love to help teach you. But if you want your new counselor or friends to teach you, that’s okay. I’m there for you, girl!
I also think you will find in the mornings when you go down with your cabin to Inspiration Point where you will meet the rest of Camp, will be one of your favorite parts of your day. The outlook is Missouri’s most beautiful outlook that is kept secret. The orange sky lighting up the fields, while the dew rises off the grass with the sounds of Shoal Creek directly below, there is nothing like a Missouri morning at Camp Barnabas. You won’t only see God in the outdoors then. You will feel Him on your skin, hear Him in the gentle breeze, you will smell the sweet dew, and as you close your eyes your new friend will grab a hold of your hand. It’s real, Anna. That’s what Heaven is like in case you were wondering.
If you want to hear a good story, ask your Dad about dressing up in a cow costume with some other counselors back in ’97 and running out in that field. They danced along with the real cows and boy, the campers had never seen such a sight!
I also suggest the Ropes Course, which your Uncle Jake may be there to help out. He knows the course like the back of his hand. But as always, only do what you’re comfortable with. It never hurts to stretch and see what you can do, but it’s your choice Anna.
And you’ll never pick the wrong choice at Camp Barnabas. Never.
Most of all Anna, you’re going to find a 2nd family, a 2nd home here. And it’s not just yours, it’s your whole family’s 2nd home, too. You will find these traits like you’ve never seen before.
Love, Joy, Compassion, Grace, Adventure, Curiosity, Challenge, Acceptance, and Wonder like never found before. The outside world sometimes has trouble offering virtues, such as these. But not Camp Barnabas. Never.
Little Anna, I only find it fitting to dedicate this verse to you. You’ll have it memorized by the end of the week at Camp because we sing it every night.
“For the Lord your God is with you
He is Mighty to Save
He will take Great Delight in you,
He will cover you with His Love
And He will Rejoice OVER YOU IN SONG.”
If you’d rather go to Camp your first time without Uncle Jake or me, that’s okay. Your Mom will probably be your Nurse and your Dad will be ‘around.’
You are so special to us and I think you are the best thing that could have happened to our family.
And don’t forget, you have a 2nd home.
Camp Barnabas exists to help you turn your question “Why was I born with a extra chromosome?” into “Why isn’t everyone else born with a extra chromosome?” Camp Barnabas is definitely about you meeting with Jesus in a freeing way you may have never felt before through Devos, Dance parties, and Friends. But it is also about people like us meeting with Jesus directly through you. The Campers are our Teachers. Like Jesus said, ‘…and the last will become first’ come to life here. Camp Barnabas keeps us grounded in Christ with the finer things in life. You are an example to us. Never forget.
And in the words of my first camper I ever had at the age of 15,
“I am the Queen of Down Syndrome!”
Own it, Anna.
Mike Mrosko, Director of Operations, sat down with Barnabas Foundation's CEO, Jason Brawner, to learn more about how he got to Barnabas, fun stories, and his goals for the new year. Listen in and learn more about our CEO and his heart for Barnabas.
Barnstormers at Camp Barnabas are 14 & 15 year olds who have a heart to serve. Sarah Wilson, Missions Director, talks with four of our rock star Barnstormers about their experience serving for a week. Listen to hear how a week of camp impacted each of these missionaries' lives.
The role of a Barnstormer is not for the faint-hearted! Barnstormer duties consist of waiting tables at meal times, washing dishes, helping keep the kitchen clean, and cleaning toilets and bathrooms around camp. Each Barnstormer is assigned to a cabin, where they will get to interact with campers and participate in daily activities. The best Barnstormers are MATURE, 14-or 15-year-olds with a very strong work ethic.
Martha Grace & Sara- Martha Grace likes riding with the windows down, golf card rides, going for walks at the park, watching Kathie Lee and Hoda videos, dancing, laughing, sitting on the porch, snuggling with her dogs, white cheddar Cheetos, Sonic happy hour, and being around her family and friends. She can say 100+ words in her own language (how cool is that?), she can make anyone's day in 1.5 seconds, she can spot a hat or pair of glasses from a mile away, and she can push the shopping cart all by herself (and sometimes even surprises you and goes super speed). Martha Grace is beautiful, creative, non-judgmental, and hilarious. Autism is only a part of her, and probably the part that makes her as awesome as she is. Martha Grace is full of life and there is always something new that makes you laugh. Everyday is an adventure. I hope that everyone gets to experience a friendship like this in their lifetime. A friendship where "disability" is overshadowed by joy and fun and laughter. A friendship that is measured by moments, not labels or diagnoses. A friendship in which nonverbal communication means just as much as verbal communication, if not more. She knows at Camp Barnabas, it's a safe place where people know her and love her. She knows it's a place where she is accepted, loved and appreciated.
Martha Grace is a beautiful and endlessly fascinating girl... She is very friendly and certainly likes to communicate for someone who is on the autism spectrum. She talks through gestures and one word utterances. Martha Grace still requires assistance everyday. She is 24 but still lives at home with family. We first enrolled Martha Grace into Camp Barnabas when she was 7. It was the first time Martha Grace had ever been away from home for a long period of time. Martha Grace loves being with other people at camp and she likes to be in the middle of the action. She has had wonderful people engage with her when she goes to camp. All of the people that we meet through Camp Barnabas have become very important to our family and we still keep in touch. Sarh is one of those people who came into Martha Grace's life and never left. She is a very special person to us for that reason. The beauty of Martha Grace going to camp is that she gets to be involved in a bigger community. At home, it's just her family getting through the daily chores, or doctor appointments or therapies. But when she goes to camp, she gets to leave it behind. We all do. We get to leave the rigor of the challenges. We don't worry about her. We just know that she is delighting in whatever she is taking part in at Camp Barnabas. Everyone is a celebrity at Camp Barnabas and I think that's what makes it so special for the campers and for the families. Barnabas has given us the opportunity to let Martha Grace be just a typical girl and enjoy the things that she can't during her regular life. She doesn't get to go to movies, or take music classes, or participate in too many sports activities. But camp is special to us that way. She gets to be involved. It gives Martha Grace something that we aren't capable of giving to her. The staff at Camp Barnabas has a commitment that gives parents as ease. We are grateful to Camp Barnabas and hope to send Martha Grace as often and as long as she would like.
- Martha Grace's Mother
I like to think that Martha Grace is famous... Martha Grace just beams when she hangs out with Sara and we have embraced Sara as family. This relationship means the world to Martha Grace. They go shopping, they go for walks and rides in the golf cart. Sara just puts her in the car and they just go around town. I like to think that Martha Grace is famous. It seems like anywhere we go in Springfield, people who have worked with her at Camp Barnabas are out in the community and recognize her. The first time we brought her to Camp Barnabas, we were apprehensive because we had only left her for a couple of days with family. So that was a big deal to leave her for a week. She loved Camp Barnabas. Martha Grace loves all of the new people. She is extremely social and likes to be around people. She is happiest when she is around people like her and Camp Barnabas gives her that opportunity. Camp Barnabas is respite. It's a place where I can drop Martha Grace off and not think twice. I don't have to worry about anything. It brings tears to my eyes. It means a lot. Camp Barnabas means peace of mind. There is such an enthusiasm that the counselors bring and the volunteers are fantastic. Unbelievable. So full of energy. They are good, wholesome kids who have a great heart and they work so hard. There is no doubt that God is here. You feel it.
- Martha Grace's Father
One of our Camp Barnabas staffers will be competing in a 4 desert race-- a 155 mile marathon over four continents. If he completes this, he will be the youngest Ultra-Runner in the world. His goal is to raise $36,000 for Camp Barnabas and to raise awareness for our organization! Go Brendan!! Check out the story below:
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Ultra-runners are among the greatest athletes in the world and a Washburn-Rural alum is determined to join them.
Brendan Funk will compete in the 4 Deserts Race Series -- a 155-mile marathon over four continents.
"One of the races takes place in the Namibian Desert, which is way out in South Africa. There's one in the Gobi and then our final race is actually in Antarctica," explained Funk.
If the 20-year-old runner successfully completes all four legs of the Desert Race, he will be the youngest ultra-runner in the world.
This would be a surprising feat for the man who once quit his high school cross country team.
"I really just want to be able to accomplish something and go through with it until it's finished," said Funk.
But, Brendan's motivation isn't entirely intrinsic.
He says this endeavor was inspired by his internship at Camp Barnabas -- an organization aiding children and adults with special needs.
"The things that Camp Barnabas does and the growth that you see in these individuals is absolutely phenomenal. I was trying to think of whatever way I could to give back to them," said Funk.
He interned at Camp Barnabas in the past.
Brendan's goal is to raise $36,000. So far, the ambitious runner has only collected $560.
"I'm doing this to spread the word about Camp Barnabas and special needs as a whole. I'd really appreciate it if anyone donated."
When the summer is over and all of our campers and missionaries have gone home, we begin to miss them. That's why we created Barn-A-Break: a mini Camp Barnabas weekend. Our 2015 Fall Barn-A-Break was held this year on October 23rd-25th. We enjoyed fall activities in the crisp, cool air and had a blast with our camp friends. Check out our fun below:
Sarah Wilson, Missions Director, talks with Ny McNeely about her experience bringing a group of students to serve as missionaries for a week at Camp Barnabas.