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Camp Barnabas breaks Wellhouse ground

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Staff and volunteers for Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Mo., participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking of a new 7,000-square-foot medical building Oct. 1.

The new building, which will be called Lauren’s Wellhouse in honor of the camper who first inspired Paul and Cyndy Teas to start the Christian-based summer camp program in 1994, will serve the special medical needs of the campers. Lauren Hauschild was a child with cancer who expressed her desire to “just be a normal kid at camp” to Cyndy Teas while she was director of health services at Kanakuk Kamps in Branson. Cyndy and her husband discussed the idea of Camp Barnabas and eventually decided to start the camp. Today the camp sees more than 1,300 children each year with special needs and chronic diseases.

“We bought this property 15 years ago for $500,000 and we never thought then that we’d some day spend more than $1 million on a single building,” Cyndy Teas said. “God has truly blessed us.”

An episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” featured Camp Barnabas in 2005, and since then enrollment at the camp has tripled. Because of the increase in enrollment and the expanding waiting lists for all sessions of camp, the camp board of directors decided to build new cabins and began discussions about a new medical building. Lauren’s Wellhouse will feature three times the number of treatment rooms currently available at the camp, with twice the lobby area, an isolation room, two exam rooms and support areas such as X-ray and phlebotomy rooms. There will also be sleeping quarters available for medical providers – including two doctors, eight registered nurses and as many as eight volunteer student nurses.

“This is really big,” said Gail Swisher, a volunteer nurse with the camp for the past 12 years. “The first years we came, before the Home Makeover, we were literally bathing kids in Paul and Cyndy’s house – we had a 12-hour bath schedule. We’ve been waiting for this and talking about this for awhile. It’s right up there with the cafeteria, and that was a major addition to the camp. And since we’ve done the cabins, having this new building to be closer at night if you need medical help – that is great.”

In addition to serving the children at camp, the new medical facility will also be used by ACCESS Family Care as a community health clinic for underinsured and uninsured members of the community. According to, the combined population of Barry and Lawrence Counties is approximately 73,000, with about 30 percent of the adult population targeted as underinsured or uninsured.

“This is an excellent example of a win-win situation,” Cyndy Teas said. “We are now serving over 1,300 campers each summer and have outgrown our current medical center. But to be good stewards in building something that meets our needs, we believed it important to use the center year-round. At the same time, ACCESS was looking to expand their health care services in our area. And their mission of reaching the medically underserved aligns well with our work with people with special needs and chronic diseases.”

The total cost of the project is slightly more than $1.2 million. Camp Barnabas has launched a fundraising campaign called the Fishbowl Fundraiser to help offset costs associated with the construction project. Area businesses have already begun partnering with the camp by putting up specially designed containers in which people may donate. Contributions will be matched dollar for dollar through a grant from the Mabee Foundation. The fundraising campaign runs throughout the month of October.

Springfield-based Morelock-Ross Builders Inc., will service as general contractor for the project. The company specializes in commercial, warehouse, retail, institutional, residential and specialty building. Architectural renderings were prepared by Butler Rosenbury & Partners Inc., Springfield. The estimated time of completion for the project is May 2011.

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