Michaela Satterfield is the First Place winner of the Share Your Story contest. For this contest we asked past staffers and volunteers to send us their stories about how Camp Barnabas and disability ministry has affected their lives by asking them two questions: “What do you love about Barnabas?” and “How has Barnabas impacted you?” Here is Michaela’s story:
The thing I love most about Barnabas is the way it gets me outside of myself and thinking about how to serve those around me. There is so much freedom to be found in living like this. At Barnabas, there are walking examples of people being the hands and feet of Jesus — campers, missionaries, and staff. It only takes one weekend to feel like you are part of the Barnabas family. That feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself is something experienced through being a Christ follower, but it can be tangibly seen at Barnabas. I always leave camp with new friends, a new perspective, and plenty of new stories. The stories I have from camp are some of my favorites to tell. I wrote about some of these stories and how they have impacted my life on a deeper level.
I drove through the gates, ready to serve. I lined up for camper arrival, ready to serve. I helped set up the cabins, ready to serve. I walked to activities, ready to serve. I was there to help the campers, and they ended up helping me. I have served at Camp Barnabas three times. There are three campers who have forever etched a place in my heart. They taught me three lessons.
The first time I served at camp, I was a floater. I was able to spend time with all the campers in my cabin, but I bonded with one particular camper named Trevor. Two years later, Trevor and I still catch up on the phone every once in a while. Trevor has a catchphrase he uses all the time. “It’s too easy,” he says. Trevor spends his days in a wheelchair. Nothing is easy for him. That doesn’t stop him from having a positive attitude at all times. One time, his power chair went off the paved path at camp and almost toppled over. There was nothing he could do about it, but he didn’t panic. He didn’t complain. We got him back on the path, worried that he might be hurt. He was laughing. Trevor taught me to lighten up and laugh, even through hardships.
The second time I served at camp, I was a missionary and Heather was my camper. Heather likes to dance all the time, in front of everyone. Me? Not so much. That weekend, I found myself ballroom dancing through the cabin and hip hop dancing on stage in front of everyone. We danced like no one was watching. Heather taught me the power in freely being myself without inhibition.
The third time I served at camp, I was a missionary and Malachi was my camper. He has trouble walking and running, but that doesn’t stop him from constantly being on the move. He has a stroller to ride in when he gets tired. His little brother Michael, who doesn’t have any trouble walking, likes to ride in the stroller for fun. Several times, I saw that Malachi was starting to have extra trouble walking and asked if he wanted to use the stroller, which Michael was riding in.
“Let Michael use it,” Malachi said every time. “Let him use it.”
Malachi taught me how to sacrifice for others.
The campers taught me these lessons in little moments that seemed insignificant at the time. The thing about Camp Barnabas, however, is that no moment is without meaning. Eternal purpose beats at every dance party. Life-changing conversations are held in the cabins. The joy of the Lord rings from camp chants. Lifelong friendships are formed in the dining hall. In every moment, someone is demonstrating what it looks like to live like Christ. Camp Barnabas gave me a little glimpse of His kingdom on earth.