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A Camp that Offers Inclusive Adventures

Two girls swim in an accessible swimming pool.

 
At Camp Barnabas, kids with disabilities are celebrated and given opportunities to explore new activities that are accessible to them. Campers are told “yes” when they consider taking on a ropes course, camping trip or archery game that is adapted to their unique abilities. 

The creation of the Missouri-based camp was inspired by a young girl diagnosed with cancer, who expressed a desire to be a part of a camp community that understood and included her. The camp now has two locations and serves more than 2,000 campers each summer. 

Each week, the staff welcomes campers and their families with a celebratory message of inclusion. 

“The staff lines the gates to welcome campers, upbeat music and cheers resounding in the background. The energy is so captivating,” said Andrea Harp, Director of Marketing. 

Andrea is a Mom of twin daughters, one who has cerebral palsy, and enjoys bringing them to meet campers and counselors. She also uses the time to connect with other parents who bring their children to camp.

“My girls aren’t old enough to attend, but I love bringing them to see the amazing mentors and older kids who demonstrate such bravery and compassion to each other. I love that they get to grow up witnessing all the joy camp has to offer.”

Camp Barnabas makes sure all of their activities are fully accessible and ready for use by every child who wishes to engage. Each day, kids participate in three to four activities with their cabin, exercising the “challenge by choice” model. 

“Every camper gets to decide the level of challenge they want to try with an activity. It’s such a delight seeing campers’ faces light up when they do something they thought they couldn’t.”

They also welcome previous campers back to work as peer mentors or interns for current campers. 

“We really like to empower and encourage independence among our veteran camp-goers. It’s a great way for them to give back.”

Each week-long camp runs throughout summer and is open to any child with a disability or chronic illness. To learn more about Camp Barnabas, visit https://www.campbarnabas.org

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Tennessee Disability Coalition

The Coalition is an alliance of organizations and individuals who have joined to promote the full and equal participation of men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. We work together to advocate for public policy that ensures self-determination, independence, empowerment, and inclusion for people with disabilities in areas such as accessibility, education, healthcare, housing, and voting rights.

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Tennessee Disability Coalition
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Nashville: (615) 383-9442Toll-free: (888) 643-7811Email: coalition@tndisability.org