Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bridge Builders, Camp Barnabas, 2016, It's Fine, We're Fine, So Fine

I just returned from another amazing week at Camp, and want to write all I can before I forget. Unfortunately, growing older means forgetting things a little more often. *giggle* This week was full of a range of emotions. I don't think I can convey the feeling of being there, as it's something you need to experience. However, I blog more for me than for you (as I've said before).

Camp weeks are amazing because it's time away from the real world. I love to call it the Barna-Bubble. I will share the moments that meant the world to me, and if you asked someone else in the cabin it could be completely different. That's cool. I can only write through my eyes, as I experienced it.

It doesn't matter how many times I've been there (and at this point I've lost count), every week is different. Different cabins, campers, staffers, and experiences. I no longer go into it with expectations other than it will be led by God, and He will guide us through each situation. He hasn't let me down in all the weeks I've spent there. Not even once. Every situation may fall differently than I think it should, I always see why later in the week. ALWAYS. *grin* I love that.

So, here goes. I have no idea what this is going to look like, I just want to write. *giggle*

Saturday it was HOT. Arrival meant I sweat more in that 90 minutes (stations training) than I think I have all Summer. My thought was, "Well, I'll lose weight this week." I did too, as I lost two pounds this week. I think walking everywhere AND having limited eating times helped. The walk to the cabins Saturday felt like a lot, but by the end of the week I wasn't panting at all. *giggle* Camp is good for me to build up my legs that had been on the couch most of the Summer. *giggle*

Camper Card time is when the Missionaries choose their camper for the week. I am always a little late because of adult intro meeting, but it is a favorite part for me. I get to meet the young ladies I'll serve beside for the week AND I get to see what campers I will work with too. It was at this time, I saw that I would have Becca and Alyssa again. I was PUMPED to see that! I didn't recognize any of the other campers, but I started praying immediately about Becca and Alyssa. They aren't mean, they just require extra support, so prayer is good. *giggle*

I spoke at IP after camper cards, which was a first for me. I have prayed for YEARS for this, and it was mentioned Term 1 to me from one of the key leaders in the ministry. I prayed over it, and through various messages with the wife of the leader, I knew I'd be speaking that night. The bonus to speaking at IP during Volunteer Arrival night, is that it's dark. They could kinda see me with the light, but, I could only see about the first two rows. I will be honest, I loved it. I haven't listened to it, (I recorded it) but, God used it in so many cool ways.

The coolest part was that a lot of the young ladies wanted to talk to me about becoming a Special Educator. I had prayed that God would use it, and He clearly did. I also had several compliments, but the other bonus was that only once was I accused of being a camper this time. I did a head tilt when a barnstormer said, "you can't be back here" in regard to the kitchen, and at the time I thought he was absent when I spoke. Later, I found out it was hard to hear me in the back so I gave the kid a pass. *giggle* Actually, I did my usual, "it's okay, I have special permission, I have a special diet." He was good with that. Yea!

Training was good. Training is sometimes long, but I will say that Barnabas staff does a good job of trying to make it fun even through serious training topics. It was also helpful that this time I slept under the dining hall, so I was blessed immensely. *grin* I'll spare you the various challenges for us in other parts of camp. *giggle*

Camper arrival was a blast, as I got to see ALL the campers arrive and of course Ronni came! I'll admit, I invited myself to ride through camp with them. Words cannot describe how good it was to see the entire family! I also didn't realize how much I missed Ronni until that moment. Life is AWESOME with her in it. *grin*

After Ronni got out, I did too. I headed to my cabin and one of my former missionaries was walking with her camper who was hitting her. She looked at me and asked for help. So, I helped get her to her cabin. When we got there, the young camper hit me in the back. My thought was, "Term 7".

Term 7 will always have a special place in my heart. Totally.

As the week went on, I realized how much of Term 7 feels like family to me. The same volunteers return year after year, which is amazing when you think about the population of campers who come. Some (NOT ALL) of them hit, kick, and pinch hard. The teens learn how to love when the campers may not be easy to love. That is precious to me. *grin*

In our cabin, we had so much happen that made the week special.

We had each missionary perfectly placed with the right camper. Week after week I have observed that. It always works out, and I love that.

I also love how God takes 12-14 people who don't even know each other, and within a week can't imagine how they didn't know each other beforehand. That's so precious to me.

We had five campers that became precious friends. For lack of better words, they are higher functioning, and it led to some precious friendships. I love that, as that's part of what camp is about. They did archery, rifles, fishing, and canoes, among other activities. How cool is that? They had a blast. I didn't go to any of those activities because I was helping with the other campers, but, I was so glad those five could go experience those activities.

Alyssa was a camper I've had before and words cannot explain how we connected years ago because she is non-verbal. Alyssa is a camper with Angelman's Syndrome. The cool thing is that we've continued our connection and we cuddled tons this week. Touch is clearly her love language, so she would often sit with me, then get up and go do things with her missionary. Next thing I would know, she'd be back to cuddle again. She will always have a special place in my heart. Truly. *grin*

Becca was another one I've had before, and I truly love her. She isn't a lovable, touchy kind of gal. Actually, space is best for her. I took two squirt bottles with me, in case I had her again. I would have given them to whoever had her as that saved us last year, so it was cool I had her again. *giggle* I will openly admit, it took a lot of work to support her sufficiently, but I am so very glad I got to see her growth in the past year. She can do more by herself than she could last year. She's smart, but she is probably misunderstood a lot. She has autism and can be violent, but she wasn't with me. (She was with others though) The coolest part was that no one ever gave up. We just loved her the best we knew how in each situation. The last night of camp, Cross Carry was too much for her so I stayed with her and the staffer in the cabin. Becca did well, and I was proud of her. There were some hard moments, but there were some other moments that I won't forget. Like, she loved to spray us with the bottle. She also loved music, and I gave up my phone and bluetooth speaker to help her throughout the week. It was a stretch at times not to have my phone, but it was even more of a blessing to know that a camper was being helped with something I had. The teens gave theirs up, so being off the grid was good for me. Yeah, I checked and posted here and there, but it was good not to be latched to my phone. I hope to take that knowledge and apply it to the real world. The bubble wasn't as hard as it would be here. But then again, I don't think it should be. *giggle*

I also won't forget Becca's language: Eatey, drinky, foodie, cabinee, beddee, and she would occasionally use the F word. It's one of a kind, but gosh I love her more than I ever thought I could. Her missionary was upset from time to time, and I would hold her and pray with her. I tell ya, I love those teens just as much as those campers. Seriously.

That leaves Leah. Leah also has Angelman's, and is also non-verbal. She required extra help too, and her missionary was amazing. I also prayed with her in the beginning of the week while she cried at first. She did great though, and I was so proud of her and the floater who helped quite a bit with her. *grin*

Leah pulled hair a lot, but it was a game for her most of the time. I had a little red and blue ball with me, and tried to make a game out of it so that she wouldn't pull hair. It worked for the most part. She didn't pull mine as much, but then again I wasn't with her as much as Alyssa. I also have short hair, so it wasn't as fun for her. *giggle*

The missionaries and staffers blew me away this week. There's typically one that leaves me going, "help her more than the others", but I didn't feel that at all. When someone would say, "I need a third" (because we can't be alone with a camper EVER) many of the girls would step up and volunteer. We were all tired, but we all gave it our best every step of the way. It was amazing to see this cabin come together for the girls. It was priceless.

Becca loved the song "Call Me Maybe." If I never hear that song again, that will be fine for me. However, it was worth it to see Becca happy.

"That's my shirt" became a favorite saying throughout the cabin with Caroline, and it always made me smile.

I'm exhausted now, but loved camp. Every moment of it.

I may type more later.

Term 7 is done.


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