Saturday, June 08, 2013

Camp Barnabas Term 1- Adult Friends 2013

I just returned from one of my favorite places, CAMP BARNABAS! *grin*

I had never attended Term 1, which is ADULT FRIENDS, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I will be honest, I walked into it thinking, "It's Camp, I got this." And as usual, I found myself in new situations and praying a lot. Only one situation truly brought tears, and I'll get to that in a bit, I just walked away yesterday thinking, "No two weeks out at camp will ever be the same." *grin* And in contemplating that today, I like that. It means every week will be full of new experiences and friends. I want to share about the week, as it was AMAZINGLY cool.

Upon arrival, I was told I was staying in room #3. That meant under the dining hall. I'll admit, I was bummed because I wanted the Barn-A-Bunk. HOWEVER, what I didn't know was that they remodeled the area downstairs below the dining hall! *grin* It was AWESOME.

I walked into Room #3 and it was AMAZING. There were new bunk beds, new storage areas, and a couch! Then I told God "Thank You" for placing me down there. I chose a bunk bed that was somewhat like a cave, and I LOVED it! We also had gift bags on the beds with a gift inside to thank us for serving! *grin* It was INCREDIBLE! It was a great way to start the week.

I found it odd that God put me in Cabin G9. For those of you that don't know, G9 is as far as you can get from the main area of camp. I was also somewhat bummed about that, but as always, He guided me through it, and I feel in better shape than I have in a long time! *grin* My toe hurt a lot the first couple days, but I kept up on pain meds and it was okay!(Not to mention friends praying for me.)

I will state that on the first night after campers had arrived I was in a lot of pain in the toe and we had to go to the Wellhouse for a camper anyway, so I asked if they could give me a cortisone shot. I knew it was a long shot, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. This was the only part in the entire week that made me cry. I explained the situation to the head of the nurses, who then took the situation to the team. I explained that I understood if they couldn't do it, because it typically takes a doctor's order. What followed was so UNLIKE Barnabas I was in tears.

A nurse came out (fortunately not our cabin's nurse) and she walked up to me and started aggressively asking me questions. It wasn't typical of the nurses out at Barnabas at all! Last year I bruised a rib and while they couldn't do a thing for it they were super nice. This gal kept at me for several minutes and I was in tears not because they wouldn't give me the shot, but because she was flat-out mean. Later in the week she wasn't kind to us when we brought in a sick camper, and it took a staffer going back with us to get a bed for the camper to rest on. I was frustrated with this gal, and then I was reminded of something the Lord showed me this past school year. Not everyone has the gift of encouragement. I prayed for her throughout the week. The Lord never did lead me to talk to her about it, but gosh she must be miserable out at camp if encouragement is hard for her. Seriously.

That was the only true bummer for the week. *grin*

The first night CIA'S were there, I was so excited for the week. I found out a camper from last year was going to be in my cabin again, which made me happy! I was also interested to see how the week was going to work because we had 6 CIA'S for 9 campers. Outside of sibs, I had never been in a cabin like that before. So, three of our girls had two campers and three had one-on-ones. I knew God would lead us, and He did just that! *grin*

What was unusual about this week was that EVERY CIA (young adult assigned to a camper or two) we had was AMAZING. I'll be honest, typically there is one that struggles in some form or another, but these girls were amazing! I was so BLESSED by each one of them. They each blessed me in their own way, and I pray I get to see them again. They are a special group of gals. I wish I had heard their testimonies earlier in the week. I TOTALLY get why we didn't, so it's not like anyone did anything wrong. It was just one of those weeks that testimonies happened later in the week. Each testimony blessed me...immensely. *grin*

The campers arrived, and I was interested to see how the week would go because I have typically done the younger campers during the summer season. I waited outside during arrival until our first one arrived and then went to the cabin.

What I didn't know on arrival day was how much I was truly going to enjoy the week. Each camper had a little bit of my heart when we departed yesterday. Let me share a little:

Ashley was our non-verbal camper and the one I spent the most time with out of necessity. I signed when I spoke, which she seemed to like. She is the most persistent camper I've ever met, as when her mind is made up about something, it's serious! *grin* We bonded a lot in the dining hall, as she takes her time eating. Honestly, she was a puzzle at first because when we encouraged her to eat, she wouldn't. It took various strategies and days before we had her figured out. On day #4 we had another camper feeding her (both wanted it, so it worked out well) and had it figured out. I had to laugh because sometimes it takes that long to figure out campers. On day #6 we leave. *giggle*

Ashley blew me away, as she never said a word, but brought SO MUCH joy to our cabin. She never really said a real word, but she laughed tons, and sang on the mic in her own language. There were also things we did with Ashley to help her be successful at camp. For example, when she wanted to go somewhere and it wasn't time to do that, we distracted her with funny faces or I would turn my hat the wrong way in order to have her fix it for me. Yes, quite a few times I moved my hat and she put it back the way it should be and it made her HAPPY to do it. *grin*

She also liked her CIA, Emily. I did too. Emily and I worked well together, and Emily was REALLY good with her. I also liked the fact Emily was confident in who she is, as sometimes Ashley would send her away with her hand, and Emily was fine with that. I've had some CIA's that would be hurt by that, and Emily wasn't because she knew that overall she was loved by that young gal.

Everyone in our cabin loved Ashley. She required a lot of assistance, but it was fine. We laughed TONS with her and had A LOT more FUN moments than hard ones with her! Emily was the perfect gal for her, and I selfishly pray she applies for staff next year. She is honestly one of the strongest CIA's I have ever worked with. *grin*

Becky was another amazing camper. I can't remember Becky's actual diagnosis, but she was precious. She was always afraid of falling, so she was arm-in-arm with her CIA, Rachel, all week. They were perfect together, and Becky was so quiet that I considered it precious when she spoke. Rachel blessed me too because she came on our own, without a youth group. She fit right in with our cabin and did a really good job with Becky. While I don't have as much to write about on Becky, it's simply because I wasn't with her as much as I was with Ashley. HOWEVER, I adored her and made sure she knew how much I liked her in each interaction I had with her. In fact, on the first night she was cold and I loaned her one of my Barnabas hoodies. I let her keep it too. It was so cute on her, even though it was too big, and it meant something to me when she continued to wear it as the week went on. I really hope I see her again, as she was special to me!

Rachel, her CIA, was new to the Barnabas world, and she was also quiet around me. Due to the fact Becky did well, I spent less time with Rachel. That being said, I was blessed by her because every time I scanned the cabin to see how everyone was doing, Rachel was doing a great job with her. Our entire cabin was blessed to have Rachel with us for Term 1.

While I'm completely sure of Amanda's diagnosis, I would guess she's a gal with Autism. She is tall, and a woman of few words. On the first day, I would point to her and smile. Then she would point back. That started as a joke between us. As the week progressed, she would stick her tongue out at me and I would say, "Amanda! Did you just stick your tongue out at me?" She would laugh and that would make me laugh. At some point in the week she said, "You better watch it!" She would grin when she said it, and I would laugh. She was definitely a lot of fun, and as the week progressed I would stick my tongue back out at her. It became our thing! Several times she said, "You're funny." To which I would reply, "No, I'm not! I'm always serious!" Then I would smile. I had SO MUCH FUN with her! She was FUN. You know, I miss her already.

Carley was her CIA, and also had another camper. Carley was also AMAZING. She was positive and REALLY cared for ALL the campers. I also liked Carley because she has a true heart for the Lord. We have similar testimonies and it was a blessing to work beside her this week. I hope she returns, but if she doesn't I know it will be because He has something else in store for her! *grin*

Crystal is a gal with Autism who I found I could joke with a lot. One day #1, we clicked and throughout the week we had a lot of fun. She called me "Cabin Mom" all week, while everyone else called me "Momma Shannon." She would walk with me sometimes so I wouldn't be alone, and made sure I saw rocks so I wouldn't fall. She also sat by me a lot in the cabin, which made me smile. I laughed a lot with her. I did break out the teacher voice once with her because she wouldn't follow someone's directions. After that particular situation she didn't repeat that. *grin* She also requested that I wake her up the last day, so I woke up super early and made sure I was there, but she was awake when I got there. *grin* She also fed Ashley by choice and Ashley let her. It made me *grin*. Out at camp I don't care who gets a person to eat, as long as they eat. *grin* I'm going to miss Crystal a lot. On parent arrival day her parents were late, so I jokingly offered to bring her home with me. She laughed and said no. We had fun. Then she said, "You can't do that!" I told her she was right, but it would be fun. *grin* I'm really going to miss her.

Mary Kate was in our cabin, and I'm pretty sure she is a gal with Autism too. Her social skills were below level, but not in a rude way. I asked her on day #1 if I could call her MK, and she said "Yes." She would walk up to me often and say random things that would often make me smile. Her speech is somewhat limited, so sometimes she had to repeat what she said, but she always made me smile. I wasn't with her much, but when I was I liked it. I told her Mom yesterday that she is a keeper. She grinned and agreed. Then on their way out yesterday her Mom stopped and thanked me. The thing is, MK was cool in her own way. *grin* I liked her a lot.

Tiffany was the camper I spent the least amount of time with, but when I talked with her yesterday while we were waiting for parents I regretted not making more time for her. As it turns out, we are both worship junkies. I would have had PLENTY to talk with her about this week. I pray we're in a cabin together again, as it would be a lot of fun to get to know her better. That's the thing about camp, you can't always get to know everyone. *grin*

This was year #2 with Jenni, who is precious. Jenni is high functioning, so she is easy to talk with and get to know. At the same time, she is emotional, and I held her accountable this year when I felt Him lead me in it. She was a great gal this year, and I was VERY proud of how well she did! I pray that she continues to grow in maturity because once she sees that, she'll be even more amazing!

Her CIA, Elyse, had quite a shocker at first as Jenni cried the first hour after she arrived. (Can't remember why.) I tried to encourage Elyse every time I could. I did step in from time to time, but worked VERY hard at letting Elyse work with her. I had my own conclusions on Jenni because of my teaching experiences, but let Elyse walk it out, and she was REALLY good with her. I can't say she had an easy camper, because Jenni can be difficult (and will admit that to you) and I believe God put Jenni in her life to teach her things on levels I don't understand. I am praying for Elyse because I see the promises of God on her life, and I pray that she walks them out no matter what circumstances are around her. She's an amazing gal, and I pray she will begin to see that. *grin*

God really laid Kari on my heart throughout the week. Kari was one of those campers that seriously didn't NEED a CIA. She is incredibly high functioning and I wouldn't know she was a camper if she hadn't been in my cabin. All of the other girls looked like a camper, but not Kari. Kari was VERY laid back and reminded me of someone I would be friends with if we lived in the same area. I felt bad because every time I would start to talk to her, I'd be pulled away to help with another camper. The night of the dance we were having a great chat, and I was called away. I felt bad, but she didn't. She's just like that. I was also surprised at how shy she was around people she didn't know around camp because she wasn't like that at all in the cabin. I really thought a lot about Kari throughout the week, and prayed for her throughout the week in my head. She doesn't know it, but she is one that will always be in my heart because God put her there. *grin*

Annysa was a really good CIA. Truthfully there were switches of campers, so I'm not 100% sure who she had, but I do know that EVERY time I looked over at her, she was working hard. She also has a heart for missions overseas, and I will be praying for her in that. I could see her as an AMAZING missionary in other countries. That being said, I'd love to have her back at Barnabas too! *grin*

Jennifer was a camper that has autism, and she made me *grin* quite a bit. Jennifer spoke every thought she had, so God taught me TONS through her that I won't share in this post. I liked her though, as she was clearly a gal that struggles with some social cues. She also cared about what I thought of her, so I made sure she knew I cared about her a lot. In fact, my goal was to make sure she felt special to me. At one point she said, "You're like my Mom at camp" because I often said calmly "You're okay" when she would get worked up over things that really weren't big things. I told God that she wore me out at one point, and He said, "You're in her life to make her feel special." So, that gave me an extra glimpse into Jennifer, and I liked her even more. *grin*

Abbey was a CIA in our cabin, and I spoke the least to her (compared to other CIA's). I prayed for her throughout the week in my quiet time, but I never really chatted one-on-one with her. She's going to continue to be in my heart and prayers. I truly hope she returns to Barnabas. God has some AMAZING things in store for her, and I hope I get to hear about them. She doesn't have access to social media, so I pray she knows how much I liked her even though it was only a week that we were together. *grin*

Sara is a gal who was in my cabin last year during Term 5, and she was there as an MP this week. Every time we saw each other, we said, "Mike Wazowski" to each other and laughed. It's hard to explain, but we're connected on a level that is really cool. The night of Cross Carry I was running late because I helped Ashley eat so I ate afterward, so I was walking to my group when I was invited to do Cross Carry with the MP's. It was precious, as Sara cried a little, but we were able to talk about the cross and it was one of the most memorable moments of the week for me.

Cory was one of our staffers, who made me *grin* all the time. I liked how transparent she was with all of us, and how hard she worked. At one point we were disagreeing on something, and then it turned out we were saying the same thing, but we were all so tired it took a minute to realize it. *giggle* We talked about it later, and agreed we were all sleep deprived. She's a special gal, and I'm SO BLESSED to have been in her cabin for a week. I can't wait to see what God has in store for her in the future, because she's headed for AMAZING things. *grin*

Hannah clearly has a heart for the Lord and His kids. I liked Hannah A LOT, and found my heart for her grow as the week went on. She was also transparent with me, and I encouraged her as I felt led. She was also really laid back, which worked well for us. *grin* She won't be there Term 7 when I return, so I will miss her. HOWEVER, she is on social media and I am excited to hear what GREAT things He has in store for her in the days and years to come.

It's amazing to me how one week can change me, but it did.

I truly felt like a Mom to His kids.
I fell in love with some of the coolest campers I've ever met.
I saw God in action over and over again as CIA's let campers do things with them that don't happen in the real world. (For example, let a kid with Down's travel with a basketball and score. True story.)
I learned that I wasn't going to let pain get in the way of camp.
I find that the older I get, the more I fit in with the cabin Moms. *grin*
I found out that there is a Barnabas Friends group here in KC that I am going to get involved with. *grin*
I learned that I really can function on less sleep even though I hate feeling tired.
Kay blessed us as adult volunteers in a new way...I was blessed beyond words. *grin*

So, I was getting ready to load up and was talking to one of the cabin Moms in our room and she offered to take stuff out to the porch for me. I said "No thanks" but she really wanted to help, so I said, "Okay, can you take my laundry bag out?" She did, and I finished packing in my room. Then I headed out to load the car, and the bag was GONE. I'm not kidding on this, IT WAS GONE. Then it hit me, the youth groups also had their stuff gathered there and it was probably loaded by mistake into a youth van. Vans that were GONE by that point. GREAT. I stood there a moment and prayed silently. I had spent money on clothes before I left for camp on new shorts that were in that bag. I have fought being bummed about it since then, I'm not going to lie. HOWEVER, I know it's just stuff, and I can replace the shorts. And the tops that were my favorite. They were just things. Trust me, I will NEVER leave anything out there again on closing day. *grin* And yes, it's all replaceable. And, LIFE GOES ON.

I go back out to camp during Term 7. While I'm thankful for the Summer Break until then, I will admit, I am looking forward to returning. *grin*

As for Term 1, it was better than I ever expected.

Thank You, God.


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