Friday, July 11, 2014

PRECIOUS, Term 5, 2014

I just spent another week out at Camp Barnabas, and must admit that I came home changed.



I was talking to a new friend yesterday before lunch about how I wish I could transport everyone in my little corner of the world to camp because words fail to explain how it changes people. Not just me, but everyone that spends a week out there walks away different than they were when they arrived.

I will share a few amazing things from this week, but I realize it will lose something in translation. That's fine. I encourage you to go to the Camp Barnabas Facebook Page and follow it. Seeing the pictures and videos will help. In the event you have a free week, consider serving for a week. I promise you, you will never see life quite the same way again.

Perhaps my favorite thing about camp is how "normal" people with disabilities feel in the midst of the community. I am always amazed at how the teens look at me when I enter registration, and how they see me at Closing Ceremonies. No one is staring any more, I'm just Momma Shannon. I LOVE THAT. Obviously, the limp hasn't held me back, but sometimes the stares get old. Out there, no one stares after camper arrival. It's AMAZINGLY COOL.

So, this week I was with nine campers, eight CIA's, two full time cabin staffers, and several Barnabas on the Lake (B.O.L.) staffers. Term 5 is for teens and young adults with Autism, Down Syndrome, and Developmental Delays. I have been to Term 5, but not for a year or two. I am SO GLAD I went this year!!! The young ladies I saw a couple years ago have grown up! It was SO MUCH FUN!!! *grin*

Smilinggirl wasn't even in my cabin, but EVERY time she saw me, she would come over and take my hands and smile at me. It was precious!!! (Yes, precious became my word for the week.)

My Twin, who also wasn't in my cabin, was precious as well and would forget that she had met me, and when she saw me she would comment on how our glasses were so similar. Gosh, she was so precious! *grin*

MarthaGrace was there, and from time to time she would find me and invite me into her world. It's amazing, this is my eighth year out at camp, and I'm still enormously blessed when she invites me in her world for the 7-10 seconds at a time. She is PRECIOUS and will ALWAYS be a favorite of mine.

Katie was there, and she made me smile too. She wasn't in my cabin either, but if you know Katie, she isn't quiet, (in a good way) so she made me smile too. Yes, lots of smiles this week.

CJ was there, and obviously he was on the boys side of camp, but every time he saw me, we chatted. We even sat by each other one night at Wrap-Up. Gosh, he's funny. I love listening to him sing. Yes, you guessed it, he's PRECIOUS too! *grin*

Now for my cabin. Gosh, I was blessed by EVERYONE! For those of you new to my little corner of the world, a CIA is a teen who works one-on-one with the camper for the week. The CIA serves the camper in all capacities, with the assistance (as needed) of staff, cabin parents, etc. Campers are NEVER alone with ANYONE. Sidenote: my job 95% of the time is to be a "Third" to the restroom, hydration station, etc. This prevents all appearances of something negative in such a positive environment.

We had one non-verbal camper, who just brought smiles to everyone at one point or another. *grin* Quiet Gal had a jump rope that we twirled A LOT! I LOVED every moment of it. She also invited me into her world several times, and each time I was doing a happy dance on the inside. She is SO PRECIOUS. Her Christian in Action (CIA) was AMAZING and did better than most CIA's that I've worked with. Serving as Cabin Mom, I'm prepared to jump in and help, but I also realize the importance of letting the CIA's do it. More than once I had to hold myself back to let the CIA serve her camper. I don't know my super heroes any more, but if there's an amazing woman hero, it would be this gal. And, she didn't see any of it as a big deal, which made it even that much more PRECIOUS. *grin*

Unfortunately, I didn't get to know some of our campers and CIA's as much as others. That's not unusual in Barnabas world. I just serve where I'm needed. Unfortunately, the higher functioning ladies don't typically talk to me as much. I do know that every chance I had to watch the other ladies with their campers, I was pleased with every single one of them. Were they perfect? No, but they sure did an amazing job trying! I'm pretty sure every one of them walked away changed.

There was one camper, Banana, who I did get to talk to from time to time, as her CIA was in a training off and on all week. I wound up REALLY liking her tons. I had seen her around camp, but had never had her in a cabin. Before I knew it, I found myself talking to her, and asking questions to her to get to know her even better. She will be back to serve during Term 7, and I will be too! I'm SO EXCITED!!! It will be a little reunion! *grin* Yep, PRECIOUS!!! *grin*

One CIA, TexasGal, struggled in the beginning of the week, and wound up happy with everything in the end. Sometimes I just pray over the girls, as I know God is at work and I can't step in. I wanted to step in, trust me, but He had to work in her. I hope she returns, as she was a good CIA. *grin*

Squeegee Gal was a hit in our cabin. We even wound up with a Squeegee cheer. Gosh, I'll never see the squeegee the same way again. *giggle* I LOVE CAMP!

Happy, one of our campers, wasn't sure of me all week. I didn't push her to bond with me, but today was priceless. She was having people sign her shirt, and I saw her doing that, but didn't say a word. A little while later, she walked over and gave me the marker. I have to admit, I smiled. *grin*

Staffers, oh gosh, I had two AMAZING staffers. In some ways they were as different as night and day, but gosh they showed the love of God to each person that crossed their path. In fact, that went for every staffer I worked with this week. I'll be honest here, that hasn't always been the case, but this year they have some amazing staffers, and each camper is blessed to be in their cabins. I'm going back for Term 7, and I've had so many good staffers, that I want to have several of them during Term 7. I guess I'll pray about that.

I see now that it's late, and I want to read and crash. I'll post again tomorrow, as I have a lot more to share.

I do know one thing for sure, Term 5 was PRECIOUS and I'm SO GLAD I went.

Time to read and crash.

I LOVE CAMP, but I'm ready to sleep in tomorrow.

PRECIOUS. *giggle*

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