Breaking Boundaries and Exceeding Expectations

For many people with special needs, they are held back, not by their own limitations, but by the limitations others place on them simply because they don’t know what they’re truly capable of. Camping releases those limitations for people with special needs, creating an entirely new environment where they, in a sense, get to “start over” and re-discover the amazing talents they have. Whether it’s setting up a cozy bed in a tent, roasting the perfect marshmallow, or experiencing a new animal for the first time, the new experiences help them gain a new frame of mind that’s not limited by their normal “everyday” circumstances.

Many activities that the special campers are able to participate in are unavailable to them anywhere else, whether because of financial or facility limitations. Whether it be swimming, ziplining, or rock climbing, each aspect of camp life is designed to release the campers from their normal limitations to allow them to experience something extraordinary. That’s truly what’s so life-altering about camping for people with special needs- that even limitations that might normally exist don’t exist at this camp. Instead of constantly being told “no” or “can’t”, they’re told “yes” and “can”, all while being loved and cheered-on by the most amazing staff in the world.

It’s so often the case that any child, no matter their circumstance, is able to truly experience joy and freedom when they’re camping. Especially in today’s media- and technology-saturated world, removing them from that context and putting them in a context where they can just be kids to have fun is so freeing and fun. How much more, then, for those who are normally constrained by certain mental or physical boundaries, to be able to essentially have those boundaries removed for an entire week at Camp Barnabas: Everything is accessible to them, everything is possible for them, and everything is provided to them to help them succeed and fully understand their true value, worth, and potential. That’s no small feat, but one that is beautifully accomplished year after year.

Though camp ends for these extraordinary people, the lessons learned and the confidence gained can last for a lifetime. Deep inside, they’ve always known they were capable of more, so to finally get truly experience that can change their perceptions and unleashes their inner-strength to be able to overcome challenges that previously seemed impossible. For parents of these campers, just seeing the joy and excitement they have after their turn at camp can, in turn, give parents confidence, hope, joy, and strength to be able to press on and provide for their children in extraordinary new ways. So much beauty from just a week at camp, a week that shows each person that they are truly someone who is created perfectly and has what it takes to do whatever they set their mind to.

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