SpecialFriends4Stanwood, WA - Everywhere you look kids are enjoying summer camp. A young man is scaling a rock wall. A group of girls are giggling in the pool. Others are enjoying a ride down a leaf-covered trail. Just what you would expect? Not really. If you look closer you’ll see that the young man on the rock wall has cerebral palsy. The girls? Down syndrome. And the trail riders? Pervasive developmental delays.

“The community of people with special needs has the same desire as everyone else to get out and experience the unique environment camping has to offer,” says Laurie Fertello, Youth Ministries Director at Warm Beach Camp. Located one hour north of Seattle, the Christian camp and conference center is hosting a Special Friends Overnight Camp July 5-8. “The reason we’re doing this is really quite simple. There are over 100,000 people with special needs in the North Puget Sound area and very few programs, and even fewer camping programs, available to accommodate the interests and needs of the special needs community.”

People with developmental disabilities age 15 through 50 will be given the chance to be participants, not observers, in activities such as swimming, mini golf, trail rides, challenge course, crafts, skits and more.

The camp is conducted as part of the Barnabas2 (B^2) program, which partners with Christian camps across America to provide life-changing opportunities to people with special needs and chronic diseases. Under their model, every summer camp activity is taken apart and adapted to meet the needs of each individual camper. The flagship site, Camp Barnabas, currently serves over 1,300 campers, with a wide range of special needs, each summer.

“For 15 years we have watched what allowing someone to understand their abilities, rather than focusing on their disabilities, can mean,” says B^2 co-founder Paul Teas. “When you see a child in a wheelchair or with Down syndrome ride a horse or go up a rock wall and fly down a zip line and realize someone has just told them want they can do instead of what they can’t do...The sense of accomplishment in their faces and hearts is indescribable.”

Like when Chris Nelson first came to Camp Barnabas. Diagnosed with developmental disabilities, he had not spoken for almost seven years. But early in the week he found a frog and his counselor helped him care for and protect it throughout his stay. When Chris’ parents arrived to pick him up at the end of camp, he turned to this young man, and introduced him to his parents with one word, “Friend.”

“There are so many more stories of campers like Chris,” says Cyndy Teas, B^2‘s other founder. “And the joy of their experience is multiplied when you understand the daily life of families with special needs. Their world is so different than any of us can imagine. Illness, financial strain, advocating for their child at school, planning for what will take place when they are gone and their child remains.... These families live in a pressure cooker. For the week their child is at camp, they have a break from the every day of life. And they know their child is being cared for and loved by people who see the person they see when they look in his or her eyes.”

Those benefits continue to the volunteers and staff.  Nick Copeland first volunteered at the Missouri B^2 site and now serves on summer staff there. “Camp has taught me how to love well, especially when it is hard. It has also shown me how to receive love so it can be poured out again in service.”

Cost of the Warm Beach Camp program is $587 for campers. Scholarships are available. To register go to  For more information about the program, call Laurie Fertello at 360-652-7575 or email her at

To volunteer, download an application at For questions call Robbie Repola of B^2 at 719-661-2626 or email Volunteer cost is $135 (plus $15 for a background check if over 18).

Warm Beach Camp provides year-round conference, camp and retreat facilities for church, school, and non-profit groups; offers programs for adults, families, and youth; and presents the Northwest holiday tradition, The Lights of Christmas. The Camp is conveniently located both one hour north of Seattle, and south of Bellingham.

Barnabas2 partners with camps across America to provide life-changing opportunities to people with special needs and chronic diseases. For more information, visit

Media contact:

Daniel Carver
Warm Beach Camp
360-652-7575 Ext. 222

Robbie Repola
Barnabas2 (B^2)