More often than not, individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses live in a world that limits their potential. Camp Barnabas changes perspectives and redefines disability.
Based in Southwest Missouri, Camp Barnabas is a non-profit charitable organization that includes two locations dedicated to providing life-changing experiences to individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses as well as their siblings. Each summer Barnabas serves approximately 2,000 campers.
Camp Barnabas goes beyond one week at summer camp.
“We get to say ‘YES. Yes, you can. You can live a life of purpose,’” says Krystal Simon, Chief Development Officer. “Our campers are loved. They are encouraged to try new things. They are reminded that they are wonderfully and perfectly created. It’s a week they’ll never forget.”
Because of their generosity, we get to say yes to more campers. We also get to say yes to the parents who champion for their kids tirelessly throughout the year, but for one single week they get a chance to just breathe. To know that their children are safely and wonderfully cared for.
Scholarship assistance is only made possible through the generous donations Barnabas receives from donors and organizations such as the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation.
“The gift from the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation is life-changing,” says Krystal. “Because of their generosity, we get to say yes to more campers. We also get to say yes to the parents who champion for their kids tirelessly throughout the year, but for one single week they get a chance to just breathe. To know that their children are safely and wonderfully cared for.”
The Foundation saw a wonderful opportunity to partner with Camp Barnabas for multiple reasons; their focus on the family is exceptional, serving not only children with special needs but siblings as well. The Spieth sibling bond is incredibly special, and an experience that is very valuable. The accessibility component was incredibly impressive, with opportunities for these young campers to experience new, one-of-a-kind things.
During the summer, Barnabas campers are paired one-on-one with a trained helper, or “missionary”, and are given the opportunity to participate in accessible activities such as fishing, swimming, canoeing, archery, rock climbing, zip lining, mini golf, arts and crafts, pottery and more. Each week is geared towards a specific age range (starting at age 7 and up) and a set of diagnoses so that each camper is in a cabin with others similar to themselves.
On average 60% of camper families seek scholarship assistance and it is projected that nearly 70% will need financial help in 2018.
“The actual cost for a camper to attend Barnabas is close to $1,500, but we only ask families to cover $775,” says Krystal. “Even so, we never turn a family away due to financial hardship and work to provide a range of additional scholarships for families who couldn’t attend otherwise.”
Camp Barnabas is accustomed to accommodating a wide range of medical needs. In order to do so, they have a fully-staffed on-site medical team available 24/7.
Over the past 24 years, Camp Barnabas has welcomed more than 75,000 campers and missionaries to camp. Barnabas exists to offer life-changing opportunities to all individuals, regardless of their disability or diagnosis, and to the people who serve them by providing social experiences that increase spiritual knowledge, social learning and human dignity.
In addition to camp, Barnabas also includes Barnabas Prep, a two-year faith-based collegiate program designed specifically for students with special needs. It is an independent living learning experience that helps individuals recognize their strengths and potential and challenges them to grow into their best selves.
For more information about Camp Barnabas, visit www.CampBarnabas.org.
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