Saturday, August 4, 2007

Camp Barnabas was probably the most memorable experience I've ever had. Although I attended last year as a "Barnstormer", this year being a C.I.A. impacted me much differently, and at a deeper level. This year I got to work one on one with the camper specifically assigned to me for the week. And I have to admit that at first, I was dreading it. I honestly didn't feel up to the challenge of surrendering every moment of my week catering to the specific needs of someone that I didn't know, with a disability I wasn't sure how to handle. This being the first year I would have individual contact with the campers, I was unsure what to expect and a little scared. The next day I met my camper, Heather. She is 17, non-verbal, and mildly autistic. Most of my worries went away when I figured out she could understand me, she just communicated back with fewer words and gestures (her favorite two were "I love you" and "loser"). She could also do most everything herself, with verbal encouragement. But as the week went on I got to know Heather better, and I came to realize that she was more than just the basic list of disabilities that they give you at the beginning of the week. She was very smart, had a lively personality, a great sense of humor, and interests very similar to my own. She made everyone laugh, and she always had a smile on her face. I had so much fun spending time with her and the being her best friend for the week, that I often forgot she (or any of the other girls in my cabin) were there because of a disability. They all laughed and payed and complained like everyone else. I realized near the end of the week that I had come to Barnabas with certain expectations and ideas that were all drastically changed by the time I left. I realized that these campers were no different than you and me, and they are people with personalities, interests, feeling, and opinions. Their disabilities were only a small fraction of the amazing people God made them to be. More often than not, their disabilities could be considered a blessing. Camp Barnabas helped me realize that God doesn't care if you are paralyzed, blind, deaf, autistic, have Down's Syndrome, or are "normal" by the worlds standards; He has a plan and a purpose for you that nothing can hinder. It also made me think if complete submission and self-sacrifice to Heather could be so fulfilling and rewarding, what would it feel like to do that in our walk with the One who created her. -Victoria Deecke


Sheila Quilts said...

My dear precious granddaughter, Victoria. I am so grateful that God placed you in our family. I have known since you were 3 years old that you have a wisdom far beyond your years. I am overflowing with emotion after reading your article about your experience at Camp Barnabas. I prayed for you and Kevin each day as you were serving at camp that you would be the hands, feet, ears and voice of Jesus to everyone you met. Thank you for allowing God to work through you and to give you such insight. May our God of hope continue to fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 i LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU VERY MUCH. NANA

summer said...

wow, tori, as i was reading that, i thought it must be an adult writing. your words were so well written and there was so much wisdom in those elopuent words. i love you and am so proud of you!! i'm so glad you had a great time at camp. you are such a blessing.