PURDY, Mo. — Deep in the heart of Southwest Missouri lies a large population of rural communities. In Purdy, Mo., the population sits at about 1,100, but in the summertime that population grows by the thousands. Camp Barnabas, a summer camp specialized for people with disabilities, has welcomed more than 90,000 people to the Four State area since its origins in 1994.
Andrea Harp, the camp’s Marketing Director, says that the camp serves as a haven for its campers to come as they are.
“In a lot of other aspects of their lives, they are already on the outside with everything they do,” Harp explained. “But this camp meets them where they are and puts them at the center of everything.”
As communities try to move forward following the response to COVID-19, Camp Barnabas is no exception. Staff have been closely monitoring the spread of the disease since early spring. But, in April, the decision was made to cancel camp for 2020.
Harp says the decision was not made lightly.
“It truly was a heartbreaking decision to make,” said Harp. “We love our campers and our youth with all our hearts, but we know that their safety comes first.”
But, despite being separated from campers and staff, Camp Barnabas is still finding ways to stay connected in ways like never before.
“There are still lots of ways we are staying involved with them,” Harp added. “We have weekly activities for campers on our website, we still do devotions with them regularly and post silly videos online. The fun is definitely still there.”
And of course, gearing up for what excitement Summer 2021 will bring.
“In the meantime, we are calling each of our families and letting them know we will see them next summer,” explained Harp. “We are looking forward to giving them a great big hug and loving on them once we see them. It will be the best year ever.”
Although the gates to the campsite are closed off, Harp says there are still ways for the community to stay in-touch with what is going on at Camp Barnabas — like writing letters to campers.
“Just something to let them know they matter and can make them smile,” said Harp. “We also appreciate the community’s positivity and support on our Facebook page.”
Because although the activities for Summer 2020 have changed, the mission stays the same.
“We want to change lives through the power of serving our campers wholeheartedly. We just want them to know just how loved they truly are.”
To learn more about Camp Barnabas, click here to visit the camp’s website.