For many kids with special needs and serious illnesses, moments spent outdoors just being a kid are few and far between. Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp in Missouri, brings volunteers in from across the country to give children with disabilities a fun summer camp experience. Camp Barnabas provides one-on-one care for kids with conditions such as muscular dystrophy, autism, Down syndrome, blindness and cerebral palsy.
For several years, high school students from Watermark have stepped up and served Barnabas campers in remarkable ways. It’s an intense and exhausting week, but many students say that God has used that experience to teach them more about sacrificial service and fully trusting Him.
Watermark Student Ministries is taking another group to Camp Barnabas from June 20-27. Here is what students at Watermark are saying about their experience.
“God showed me the truth behind 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Before serving at Camp Barnabas I was ashamed of weakness and imperfection, and I spent most of my time trying to hide it. The Lord helped me see that in our flaws, we are made perfect in Him. When I abide in Christ and trust that my hardships are for an amazing purpose, it’s a beautiful weakness.
“I called my camper ‘Prince Coleman’ and thinking back, I thought it was cool how the Lord gave me ‘my prince’ to point me towards my King!” – PORTER GRANT
“For 51 weeks of the year, the kids who come to Camp Barnabas are labeled by their disability. For this one, special week, they are exclusively labeled as a loved child of God.” – DANIEL KATANI
“God showed me how selfishly I had been living. He changed me by showing me how to selflessly love my camper and those around me. I learned to show patience with a camper who would kick and scream at me. It was a joy continually loving her despite what she would do.” – COURTNEY WOLFE
“At Camp Barnabas, I was reminded of our blatant insufficiency. I often believe the lie of my own self-sufficiency. I’m an empty vessel that must be filled by only Him. There were things that happened at camp that were far beyond my control, such as exhaustion, and challenges with campers. I had to trust that the Lord would provide, and He absolutely did in such obvious and awesome ways.” – BECCA POLK
“I shared with my camper of how Christ died for our sins. My camper understood and trusted in Christ. I wasn’t expecting for God to use me in that way, but I’m so grateful He did. God showed me how He could use me to share Christ’s story and love in ways I wasn’t used to.” – ABBI KOON
“God showed me the power of prayer, and that He has a sense of humor. Going into the trip, I knew I did not have enough patience, so I asked my parents to pray for me. Not only did God provide patience, but He also provided the perfect camper to use that patience on. My camper, Maddox, whose middle name was Chase (my name), had red hair and freckles just like mine (that’s the sense of humor part).” – CHASE CHANDLER
“God taught me patience and humility when my camper continually demonstrated that he didn’t like me. God showed me how to depend on His love and strength in order to push through when there was nowhere else to turn. Loving the campers gave me a small glimpse of the love Christ had for us when He was crucified for our sins.” – STEPHEN RITZ
“God showed me what true love is really supposed to look like. It’s infused with patience and understanding. The relationships developed in the small amount of time we were there were so authentic and filled with joy like I’ve never seen before. The smiles I saw on those precious kids’ faces alone were such an incredible blessing.” – ALLISON JACKSON