Camp Barnabas 2016 Updates: here, here, here, here, here, here.
Every night at Camp Barnabas, there's a party. And there's a "theme" for each party. An email announcing the themes is sent out well before arrival day, so that all the campers have time to gather the appropriate costumes for each party.
If they're interested.
For Joshua's first couple of years, we packed EVERYTHING he would need for each party...and then we realized something. Not only does JOSHUA NOT WEAR WRISTBANDS (here)...JOSHUA DOESN'T WEAR COSTUMES.
And that's how my life became 100% easier. And how we went from packing two large suitcases for camp...down to packing ONE suitcase for camp.
Because, here's the thing: IT'S JUNE. And it's HOT. And Joshua Garland is not about to dress up like a circus animal in the heat of summer. Not.happenin'.
But there are tons of kids who do.
And here's another thing I realized, after last year...people leave costumes there from year to year. HOLLA!
And, some of the helper-people will bring costumes for themselves AND their potential camper. SCORE!
The first party had an Olympic Games theme. The campers were told to dress for a sport they participated in...or a sport they liked...or to just dress patriotic. I had the great idea for Joshua to wear his Powerlifting competition suit...because he IS a powerlifter, and because it's red. Also, because it's a leotard-ish type of thing...it doesn't take up a lot of room.
Well, he acted like he liked that idea, but really? He did not. And, he did not pack it, and then told me he "forgot." Which, he did not. It was probably for the best. Holly reminded me that, because it is spandax-y and tight-fitting...it could be borderline inappropriate, if he didn't wear shorts over it. We make him wear shorts over it, but you never know how he will act when he's away from our eyes.
But, this ain't no peep show.
He told me that he ended up wearing a patriotic shirt that he had packed.
Side note: I typically let him pack for himself...and I just go down the list and ask him if he's put everything in there that he will need. This has been both successful...and a nightmare. Last year, he only brought two hankies...and he typically needs two a day, if he's at camp. Because ALLERGIES. One year, he only brought 4 pair of "undies." For 6 days.
I don't even wanna think about it.
That might have been the year he told me, while we were in the car on the way home from camp, that he had left me a "surprise" in the laundry.
This year, I happened to check his suitcase the night before we left, and he had 3 pair of socks. THREE. I had told him to pack 8.
AND, he ended up only bringing 3 pairs of shorts...instead of the 8 he told me he'd packed...and so he ended up having to wear jeans for 3 days. In the heat. So there's that.
I saw him wearing a white lab coat in one of the pictures on the camp website. It was "science night." He said that his helper-person brought the lab coat for him to wear. I thought that was sweet.
But, every night, along with the party...there is a dance. He said that his FRIEND Julia asked him to go with her to one of the dances...and he said, "okay." This just means that they met up there, and danced together a couple of times.
The next night, he asked Jenni, HIS GIRLFRIEND OF TWELVE YEARS, if she had a date to the dance that night, and she just looked at him. She said, "I've had a date to this dance for 12 years."
He said, "that's when I realized it was me."
The last night is always a "dress up" dance, where they will dress "fancy." But, you'll see everything from gym shorts and t-shirts...to prom dresses. Joshua brought a black, long-sleeved, dress shirt...and his "Sunday" shoes...to wear to the dance. He said he decided against the shoes, after 5 minutes of wearing them around the cabin. And that, after 5 minutes at the dance, he was regretting wearing a dark shirt...because the sun was still up, and it was HOT.
I don't know if you've ever heard of Kamp Kanakuk. It's a Christian sports camp located in Missouri. Our other 3 children went to this camp. Camp Barnabas is based on the same principles, only with the activities moderated to accommodate all different kinds of special needs.
So the campers are kept active and busy...swimming, walking, basketball, archery, jousting, canoeing, rifles, etc.
Campers can receive mail...like, snail mail...and they can also receive emails. They can write back, if you send envelopes and stamps...but they cannot email back. They can GET emails...they can't respond back to them.
I typically send emails, because it takes SO LONG to get a letter to him. This place is really in the boonies. But I can email him, and they will deliver it the next morning. Several of our family members and friends all got his email address, and they emailed him while he was gone. He LOVES to get mail...and he saves them all. He has saved all of the cards, letters, and emails he's received at camp...FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS.
The last night at camp is also the most moving night. They do a thing called "cross carry."
There's a large cross that sits at this place at camp called "Inspiration Point." On the cross, are little medal plates. Each plate is engraved with the names of former campers who didn't make it back the next year...because they have gone to Heaven. The campers pass this large cross from cabin to cabin. They are able to remember the ones who have passed away, pray for their families, and comfort each other.
It's somber...and sobering.
Joshua said that, after his cabin passed the cross to the next cabin, he walked to a quiet place to think. He said he looked up, and saw Jenni coming toward him, and she was in tears. He said, "I held her and told her everything was okay."
If there's one thing that characterizes most of the FRIENDS, it's how compassionate they are to each other (I mean, when they aren't socking one another in the eye! Ha!) They really are very sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.
But, there has to be a balance...because once one of the FRIENDS gets upset and starts crying...you've got about 4.3 seconds to get it under control, or you'll find yourself in the middle of a whole group of crying, wailing, inconsolable, special needs adults.
I speak truth.
"He s us in all our troubles so that we can others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4