Saturday, July 14, 2012

CB Term 5, 2012

Every year I go to camp and come home changed in a deep, deep, way. This year that was exceptionally true. I went out for Term 5, which was something new for me. I was excited, and God met me in some of the most unexpected ways this week. I think this will be a long post, and I may leave some things out, but I am going to write this down while it’s fresh so I can remember it. As it was a week I don’t think I’ll forget. *grin*

Term 5 is for young adults with Autism and Developmental Delays, ages 16-25. I typically go during Term 7 (And will be attending again this year!) for kids ages 7-15. I was a little nervous, but more excited than nervous because I knew God had been preparing me all summer for these two weeks at camp. And I was right.

CIA arrival time was a lot of fun. I got my things moved in and headed to the tennis courts to meet my cabin for the week. We had a great time meeting each other and doing training rotations. It’s funny how time flies out at camp, one minute you’re at one thing, the next minute you’re somewhere else. It’s amazing, really.

So during rotations, Mike, the Volunteer Coordinator, was going through the roster making sure everyone was where they needed to be. When he came to me, he said, “Shannon” I said, “Mike,” we went back and forth a few times and everyone laughed. It was a great way for me to start the week.

I really enjoy Camper Card night. For those of you unfamiliar to the Barnabas World, CIA Arrival Night we pray over the cards that contain our camper’s information and the CIA’s pick their camper for the week. I find it AMAZING how each week God pairs each CIA up with each camper PERFECTLY. This week that was SO true. *grin*

After camper cards & IP, we had family time. This year’s family time was the BEST one I’ve been a part of on the first night of camp for us because we each shared our testimonies. It was also my favorite because we did family time in our cabin with the lights on so I had a face to go with each person’s story. Typically we do it somewhere outside in the dark, where we can’t see each person speaking. While I understand some people are more comfortable sharing in that way because they don’t feel pressured to make eye contact, sometimes I found myself later in the week wondering which story went with what person. Grin This year I knew each person’s story and my heart grew for each young lady in our circle before the week even started. I LOVED that!

That first night I had a test thrown at me, and I passed the test! Megan, the Special Diet’s Cook, told me that there was a Peanut Butter allergy this week and that I couldn’t have my usual PB & J sandwich everyday. At first this devastated me because I only took what I needed for the week, nothing more. So, I kindly asked if I could eat somewhere else each day for lunch. Megan was okay with it, I think, but we had to run it by Billie. I talked to Billie and we agreed that I would eat up in the Fish House for lunch everyday. This actually turned out to be an enormous blessing throughout the week. *grin* I’ll get back to that here in a bit.

Training went well, and before I knew it, the campers arrived. I was in a high functioning cabin, and was not sure what to expect but was excited in a way I never had been before out at camp. I’m going to spare you my play-by-play of each thing, but want to share the highlights because I don’t want to forget them. Yes, this blog is more for me than for you. *grin*

Early in the week Emily and Jen asked if they could call me Mom throughout the week. I was so blessed by that, as it created an immediate bond with the girls that lasted throughout the week. And, true to form, I was “Mom” all week. *grin*

Each CIA offered something unique to our cabin, and it was my first week out at camp that I knew everyone’s name well before the week was over. My only regret (and I shared this at our last family time) was that I didn’t always include them in my “twenty questions” I played with the campers. Term 7 I will be sure to do so. *grin*

Hannah K. was a sweet young lady who quickly became one of my favorite CIA’s. She and I had a few things in common, but that wasn’t the biggest thing that blessed me about her. It was her first year at Barnabas and she did such a great job with her camper that you would have thought that she had been serving there for years! She encouraged her camper in some amazing ways, and had a HUGE heart for everyone. She’s a CIA I’ll never forget. The last day she gave me a card that she wrote that will be my scrapbook forever. *grin*

The other Hannah was a part of our cabin, and she was really quiet around me. I never really got to know her, but she did the best she could with her camper. She’s staying for Term 6, and I am praying for her this week.

Brittany was a CIA in our cabin that I had had before at Barn-A-Break, and she did an AMAZING job with her camper. She had had her camper before, and it was so precious to see the two of them together. She had some intense moments throughout the week, and I was enormously blessed as I watched her serve the Lord in so many different ways. She did such an amazing job that I can’t help but think God was looking down on her saying, “Well done, my daughter!” I know, because I felt that as her Cabin Mom for the week! *grin*

Saj stole my heart this week. She was a CIA who had never been to Barnabas and she did an excellent job with her camper. She did a great job of laughing and enjoying the company of her camper. I had a huge heart for her from the beginning of the week, and hope to stay in touch with her. She’s a sweetheart inside and out! *grin*

Molly was FULL of laughter this week with her camper. Every time I was around Molly we were laughing. I didn’t really get to know her well, but she was a lot of fun to be around. *grin*

Catya was also a lot of fun to be around. She had an AMAZING camper, and while I didn’t spend as much time with her as I wanted to, I did enjoy her while I was around her. Next time (and I REALLY hope she comes back next year!) I want to see more of the goofy Catya to come out, and I hope she’s in my cabin again.

Emily was precious and while I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with her either, I absolutely adored her. She has such a DEEP heart for the things of the Lord, and shared them on a regular basis at Family Time. I look forward to hearing the great things that God does in her and through her in the years to come. *grin*

Jen was one of the happiest people in the Lord in our cabin. She is a prayer warrior and lover of God first and foremost. Her heart was evident in that throughout the week. She also made a point to include EVERYONE in our cabin in activities. She was a very special addition to our cabin, and blessed us repeatedly. She is another one that I can’t wait to hear about in years to come.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the CIA’s but these girls were special, and quite possibly the best group I’ve ever had in a cabin. They did an exceptional job of helping each other out, and making sure each other got a break when they needed it. While that seems like something that should just happen, some weeks that’s harder to come by than others. This group was one I won’t forget. Now, onto the CAMPERS, these ARE NOT in any particular order (neither were the CIA’s, I did them in the order of where their bunk beds were in the cabin which is how I’ll do the campers too!).

Ashlee was the first camper I met as I entered the cabin after camper arrival, and she was precious from the first moment until she left yesterday. Ashlee is a young adult with Developmental Delays and her way of connecting with people is to tickle them. I knew from that first tickle moment in the first few minutes that it would last all week, and I was fine with that. She also enjoyed “fixing” my hair all week. The week before camp I had gotten a SHORT haircut so that hair wouldn’t be an issue throughout the week. So, Ashlee and Olivia both enjoyed doing my hair all week. I didn’t even spend time in the morning fixing it because I knew the girls would do it for me throughout each day. Ashlee loved it, and it blessed me because she loved it. Ashlee has a heart of gold and everyone loved her in our cabin. We were blessed to have her in G5 this week. *grin*

Mary is also a young adult with Autism, and she taught me a lot this week. She was our quietest camper, but when she had something to say it was ALWAYS worth listening to. She loved to read, and that gave us a lot to talk about. While we like different books, that was fun too because it gave us something to share. I loved her, and every time I sat down to spend time with her, I LOVED it. She will never know how much she impacted me this past week. NEVER. I’m a better person today because of Mary. *grin*

Jenni was a young adult with Down Syndrome who absolutely stole my heart this past week. I could do a whole Jenni post (and might in the future) on all the things God showed me through this young lady. Perhaps the most memorable was one night when she prayed for us before the campers went to sleep. The lines I remember the most in her prayer were when she told God that, “Camp is the only place I get to be a kid again because being an adult sucks.” Talk about being REAL with God, and that ENORMOUSLY blessed me. She also thanked God for her special friends this week. I did the same thing at the end of camp too! *grin* Gosh, Jenni is one I will not forget. My life is better with Jenni in it.

Quinn was a girl that kept me laughing. She is also a young lady with Down Syndrome, but Quinn doesn’t let it stop her in any way! Quinn and I sat together during an activity and I did twenty questions with her and learned a lot about her. Later in the week she sat by me at a meal and said, “Give me more questions.” I laughed. We REALLY enjoyed that game a lot. I wasn’t around her a whole lot, but when I was, it was a lot of fun.

Sara makes me laugh just thinking about her. It was day #2 when I first talked to Sara for any length of time. She came over and sat by me during rifles, and I had NEVER talked to her before. She sat down and started talking in her voice from Monsters, Inc. and said, “Mike Wazowski” I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants! The thing about Sara is that she carries joy everywhere she goes. Every time she sat down by me, I laughed and laughed and laughed. She taught me a lot about laughter and joy in those short days. We’re friends on FB now and I’m glad. I have a feeling she’ll have me laughing for years to come. *giggle*

Lisa. Wow. Lisa. Talk about a girl that I connected with on a level that I haven’t connected with anyone else in a long time. Lisa walks with a limp sort of like mine, (but not really like mine) and she does an AMAZING job walking out at camp! She walks faster than me, which always made me smile. *grin* I can’t even put into words what God taught me through Lisa, but suffice to say I’m glad we have social media because when we said our good-byes yesterday that was hard for me. She has a special place in my heart that God put there. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She’ll be attending Term 1 next year. I am already praying about serving during that term so I can be there with her. *grin*

Susie is a young lady with Down Syndrome, and has a smile that will melt your heart. She is also ALL girl. In fact, my fingernails are painted for the first time since my brother’s wedding because Susie painted them. It was precious. I look at my nails and smile because Susie did it. I love that girl. While I didn’t spend A LOT of time with her, I liked her a lot. She had a happy heart and she carried herself that way. I learned a lot from that.

Olivia was a constant source of love for me. I could share a few stories about Olivia, but my favorite one was that she called me MOMMA SHANNON in her Arkansas voice. I recorded it the last day because it made me grin so much. I loved her. She’s a jewel. *grin*

Our campers each taught me something in their own way, and God spoke to me A LOT this week in ways I’m not going to blog. I think some experiences with the Lord are meant just for us. Suffice to say, this was one of the most fun cabins I’ve been a part of out at camp. I loved it!

Our staffers were amazing too. They were super easy to serve beside and I loved every minute of my time with them.

Ilana was new to staff this year, and God clearly has His hand on her life. She did an amazing job leading our cabin with her co. She was so patient and encouraging throughout the week to everyone. I think she’s going to do GREAT these next three weeks as cabin staff. I believe God’s going to continue to use her in some AMAZING ways.

Christin was our other Cabin Staffer, and she was a lot of fun for the girls too. Christin has a lot of wisdom for a young lady her age, and I was SO HAPPY to have her as my cabin staff. I was really blessed one night when we had campers in bed early, and family time with Christin ended early and we all went to bed early. Our whole cabin appreciated the extra sleep. Grin Christin was precious. I can’t wait to hear what other AMAZING things God does in and through Christin in the years to come.

M.K. Wow, what can you say about M.K.? God really gave me a heart for M.K. this week. She is an AMAZING woman of the Lord, and I was so glad she was one of our support staff this week. She made me laugh a lot, and knows the true meaning of the JOY of the Lord. I hope I get to know her more in the future, as she sure is a special young lady in the Lord.

Jamie was another support staff that I barely saw, but enjoyed being around her when I did. She did a great job with our campers. Our last night we had a dance party before the campers went to bed, and Jamie jumped right in and had a blast. I LOVED having her in it with us! She is a precious jewel that the Lord is molding in a very special way.

One of the perks of the Peanut Butter allergy in the dining hall, was that I got to know the MP’s throughout the week in the Fish House. Kevin was an MP, and we shared my pretzels daily. That was fun. By Day #5 they were all around me wanting pretzels. I thought it was cute. The cabin mom for the MP’s felt bad for me, but she didn’t know how much fun I was actually having. Pretzels with the MP’s was actually a highlight of my week. They always left a little while after I arrived and I got about ten minutes of quiet time, which honestly blessed me too. Camp is an amazing place, but alone time is rare, so it was a nice time each day. *grin*

Lauren is in charge of the MP’s and we got to talk from time to time, and I LOVE that young lady. We both have so much in common in the Lord that we encouraged each other in levels that other people didn’t understand out there and that was fine by me. *grin* I thoroughly believe that this is the beginning of an AMAZING friendship with Lauren in the years to come. I have already invited her to KC to visit me. *grin* Love that girl.

Collin was a camper that was out there that I know from here, and we had SO MUCH FUN this week. We danced at wrap up, prayed, and sang songs. He blessed me more than I can put into words, as he’s a special little guy to me. He fit in so well with the campers this week that it was fun to watch. He’s such a jewel. Yesterday at closing ceremonies he sat by me and we sang the Camp Barnabas song together. It was priceless! *grin*

Zephaniah 3:17 during wrap up was a highlight for me. We linked arms as we sang the song. Most of the camp participated. It was a sight I had never seen at camp because most of my experience is during Term 7. I will never forget seeing the arms linked. Amazing.

The dining hall is always a source of entertainment. There was a camper (can’t remember his name) who would do “We are famers” and the whole mess hall would reply “Bam pa daum pa bum pa ba”. (Or something like that.) *grin* I said all week we should record and it send it to Farmers Insurance. They would have enjoyed it.

Also in the dining hall a favorite was The Mau Karana. We did it during a lot of meals and it was fun to watch the campers participate. I laughed. It was great. Music is such a big pat of the dining hall that everyone would sing out whatever the singer was singing on stage. It’s something you have to experience to fully understand.

One night it rained so hard it knocked the power out in the dining hall during dinner. It was funny at first, as the lights flickered and we heard everyone say “Yea!” “Uh” “Yea” “Uh”. I was laughing, and then poof, they were off for good. After spending time with a camper and CIA, I looked in my backpack and remembered I had glow bracelets, which everyone loved in the dark!!! I also had bubbles and a coloring book to help the camper struggling in the change of the night. *grin* Praise the Lord!

It was one of MANY times I thanked the Lord for preparing me for camp. When I went shopping for camp, the Lord guided me to buy the bubbles, coloring books, crayons, and glow bracelets. I thought at the time, “Glow bracelets? Really?” And I bought them. They were a HIT in a dark room waiting for a movie that never happened. It was a night I’ll never forget. And, trust me, I’ll never say, “Really?” to God when I’m shopping for camp again. He knew that blackout would occur before I did. It brought a little bit of joy in a dark night. *giggle*

Uno was also a highlight for me. Lisa, Olivia, Hannah, Catya, Ilana, and I played it one night. I also played it with several of the girls one night in our cabin. It led to a lot of laughter, which was fun.

Finally, the dance parties in our cabin were an example of the JOY inside of our cabin. We started the week with a dance party and ended it with a dance party. Seemed like the perfect way to end the AMAZING week we had just shared.

I’m headed out in about a week for Term 7, and can’t wait. I am also glad to be home for a week. I have taken today to rest and enjoy Jay. Jay and I have cuddled and I have pondered love and how it can be enjoyed between people, God, and even little dogs. I know that for Jay & me, it’s great to be together again. *grin* Camp was great, but there's no place like home!

AMAZING…and Camp Barnabas is AMAZING too! *grin*

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