Springfield Little Theatre teams with Camp Barnabas for musical workshop

Published: Jun. 1, 2018 at 4:33 PM CDT
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With two locations in Purdy and Table Rock Lake, Camp Barnabas is a Christian-based organization that holds summer camps for young people with special needs or chronic illnesses, with each camper getting their own one-on-one counselor, or "buddy", to help them get the most out of the outdoor experience.

But for the first year, in partnership with the Springfield Little Theatre, Camp Barnabas students along with their one-on-one buddies were able to take part in a musical theatre workshop at Wilder Elementary culminating on Friday with a performance that brought laughs and tears to their audience.

It was called "Friend Like Me" and carried an important message.

"I don't care in any way what someone else may think or say," is part of the intro into their "Friend Like Me" song.

The week-long workshop included theatrical warm-up exercises, creative movements , and acting techniques as well as the musical production practices. And you could tell from the smiles that it was having an emotional effect.

"All you have to do is look into someone's eyes to see what they are feeling," explained Any Willadsen from the Springfield Little Theatre, who directed the workshop. "It's just that confidence and self-determination that 'I did it. I can do this'."

"It's getting to see the confidence, the joy brimming through," added Andrea Harp, the Director of Marketing for Camp Barnabas. "It's the opportunity to just be on-stage and be who they are and be loved, applauded, and accepted for it."

Brenna Taylor, an 8-year-old with Down Syndrome, learned some new dance steps this week as did her doll, "Boy", and her one-on-one buddy, 12 year-old Emma Hay, says the experience has been a life-changer for everyone.

"I was a little worried what I was gonna see and who I was gonna interact with," Emma admitted. "But then I met this little doll and she just changed my heart. All kids are the same and nobody's different. And they're all unique in their own special way."

"Brenna has a hard time communicating," added Brenna's mom, Kim. "So she told me dance, sing, snack, home. So it's been a real big joy."

Camp Barnabas is always looking for more counselors, known as one-on-one buddies, to help at their summer sessions.

If you're between the ages of 13 and 29, you can go to campbarnabas.org/serve and sign-up.