Camp Barnabas: Enlarging the Spirit, Encouraging the Heart by Rachel Ison
Enlarging the Spirit, Encouraging the Heart
Rachel Ison: Centre College
Camp Barnabas is a place like no other. It is a camp that offers acceptance and love to more than 1,500 campers with special needs and chronic
diseases and their siblings. Through adaptive activities, people with physical, intellectual, and/or medical challenges become participants, not
observers, in the world around them. They leave Camp Barnabas knowing that they are uniquely created to live lives of ability. This summer, I
th to August 8th, to be one of the individuals which aided in making this formative experience possible.
was given the opportunity, from May 24
Summer Enrichment Goals
•Better understand what “special needs” truly encompasses
•Work for this success and love of the campers, suppressing all personal
•Show the campers that they are unconditionally loved and uniquely
created to accomplish amazing things
Camp is broken up into 8 terms, each one serving a specific
population of individuals with special needs. Each term consists
of CIA (Christians-in-action) arrival day, camper arrival day, 5
days of camp, and closing day. Between terms, the staff gets 24
hours off to prepare for the next term.
• Listen and learn from the campers
The Extreme Team
1. Adult Friends: Ages 18 – 45 with intellectual/developmental
disabilities and/or autism
2. Challenge: Ages 7 – 15 with ohysical disabilities
3. Young Friends: Ages 7- 15 with developmental disabilities
4. Adventurers: Ages 16 – 35 with physical disabilities and
those with developmental disabilities requiring a wheelchair
5. Heroes: Ages 16 – 25 with developmental disabilities and/or
What does it mean to be extreme?
At Camp Barnabas, everything is for the campers. The
campers are individuals from all walks of life that have specials
needs. The needs which are met, range from Cerebral Palsy to
severe ADHD and Downs Syndrome, and include anything
everything in between. The goal of Camp Barnabas is to show
each of these individuals that
not only are they are
unconditionally loved, but that they also do not have to conform
to the limitations society has put on them. In doing this, the
staff resolutely pursues activities that push the limits of what
the outside world says is impossible for these incredible people
who are the campers. They take every summer camp activity
apart and put it back in a way that is doable for anyone who
wants to participate – no matter what limitations are placed on
them outside the camp grounds. Things like a high ropes
course, canoeing, and swimming.
As a member of the Extreme Team, I was expected to work hard...and play
hard! Besides facilitating some of the most favored places on camp; the
ropes course, pool, and multiple camp sites, the team was tasked with the
additional responsibility of running all of the great parties! Working alongside
thirteen other members truly taught me teamwork and blessed me with
thirteen new best friends.
6. Soaring Hawks: Ages 7 – 25 (Blind: Ages 7 – 35) with
Asperger’s, blind, chronic diseases or deaf/hearing impaired
7. Bridge Builders: Ages 7 – 18 with developmental
disabilities, autism and/or physical disabilities
8. Champions: Ages 7 – 15 with developmental disabilities,
autism, and/or physical disabilities
Want to help these amazing individuals?
It all starts at campbarnabas.org!
Volunteer a week of you summer and be paired one-onone with a camper, or make a donation on the webpage.