Day #16 is about Brian’s camp experiences…since we have a close connection with camp ministry, it is a joy to write about how camp has greatly impacted my brother’s life.
Remember the old TV show Cheers? Well, the show’s theme song came to mind as I wrote this post, “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go- where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name” (by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo, source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/).
Brian grew up going to Spring Hill and then, when he was too old to be a camper there, he attended Cran Hill. He still watches the videos from his weeks at camp; a lot! He loves camp! For him, like so many others, camp is a place to belong, to get away from your regular routine, to cut loose and have fun, to connect with God while in creation and away from distractions, and to be known. Hats off to both of these camps for the way they willingly and graciously serve people with disabilities. They may never fully realize what a great blessing one week of camp can make in the lives of people like my brother and their families. His one week of camp a year, positively impacted his whole year; his life!
We have another friend who attends Camp Barnabas, and has had similar experiences there. This friend loves going to camp because she feels like it is one of the only places that she can just be herself and be around peers who are like her. Camp serves families, of those with disabilities, almost as much as they serve the campers, although it is more indirectly. Some of these families hardly get any break from caring for their children, except when their children go to camp for a week. It is a win win.
I remember going with my friend’s mom to pick her up from Camp Barnabas…during the closing rally they sang, Trading My Sorrows, by Darrell Evans. “I’m trading my sorrow, I’m trading my shame, I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord. I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my pain, I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.” I had sung this many times before, but as I was there, in a room full of campers with disabilities, they lyrics meant so much more. I remember thinking, this place has such eternal impact; how pleased the Father’s heart must be as they reach out and encourage these campers right where they are; in the midst of their struggles and pain, they are offering them true hope and real joy.
All three of these camps differ in their approach, but I would highly recommend them for a camping experience of those with disabilities. Some of my brothers favorite things about camp were: the friendships he made with his counselors, the food (of course), the talent show (where I think he performed the same Backstreet Boys song every year), and being with peers.
Brian does not attend these camps anymore, but when he comes to visit us at camp, he calls it Camp B. The activities at Camp B are: tickle/wrestle parties with his niece and nephews, yummy meals in the dining hall, and the occasional talent show from our kids (Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, or a dance party) and Bri’s famous air guitar that is accompanied by an “Oh yahhh.”
Deep Breaths: How can you serve an individual with special needs, or their family, this week? A note, a visit, offering to babysit, prayer…If you are a parent who has a child with special needs, do you ask for help? Do you let others help you? Are you honest with the challenges you face- you don’t have to do it all; network with others, find support to help you along this journey. Call out to the Lord for wisdom…He is so near.
Matthew 25:40 “The
King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the
least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”