Camp Barnabas celebrates 25 years of serving children with special needs
Camp Barnabas celebrated 25 years since its start Saturday.
It was established to give children with special needs a normal summer camp experience, but it turned into much more than the founders ever expected.
Bliss Allmoslecher, 16, is just one of the thousands of campers at Camp Barnabas who are celebrated for what they can do. She was born with a genetic condition that caused a cyst on her brain. She takes dozens of medications, is dependent on a ventilator and has a pacemaker.
Minette Allmoslecher, Bliss' mother, said Bliss could never keep up or participate at other camps like her five older siblings.
"At Camp Barnabas, every single person spends themselves on behalf of the campers, serves them so selflessly and so she can participate in everything," Minette said.
That was the goal all along for founders Paul and Cyndy Teas. They worked at Kanakuk Camps before feeling pulled to help children with special needs.
"We wanted this camp to look just like that but just to tweak it for what the campers needed to be able to successfully do camp," Cyndy said.
The first year, they had 30 campers and it's grown ever since.
"I think it would've scared us if we'd thought it was going to be this big. We'd have thought, 'Well we can't do that,'" Cyndy said.
The Teas live in Texas now, but said they are committed to Camp Barnabas forever.
"It's creating that environment in a world where the campers are what's normal. We are not. We have to be adapted, we have to mainstream to their standards," Paul said.
Minette said Camp Barnabas helps Bliss "live her best life in every arena."
“Not only is she physically looked after, but they’re working on her heart, too, knowing it’s a hard life that she lives and so they help prepare her spiritually, emotionally, also,” Minette said.
Minette's husband Tony said the camp's impact stretches far beyond just his family.
"Camp Barnabas comes along and says, 'We see the wholeness of your special needs child. We see their spirit, we see their personality, we see their creativity, we see their future' and then they create opportunities for kids to experience all of that," he said.
The Teas' said they are excited about the camp's improvements since its start, and they are dedicated to keep it running as long as there are campers to enjoy it.