A local youth group put a twist on their car wash fundraiser Saturday. In a race to make the most vehicles sparkle and shine, 19 youth from Heritage Church held a fundraiser by not soliciting funds from drivers.

A local youth group put a twist on their car wash fundraiser Saturday. In a race to make the most vehicles sparkle and shine, 19 youth from Heritage Church held a fundraiser by not soliciting funds from drivers.

Organizer Will Schwab said, “We had the kids ask their friends and family to sponsor per car, so the more cars we washed, the more money we would make.”

The afternoon event at Homeland grocery at Harrison and MacArthur was then held as a free car wash, soliciting no donations — though any donations freely offered were accepted.

The wash-a-thon was organized to raise money for the local teens to serve at Camp Barnabas, a special needs camp in Missouri.

Schwab said his oldest daughter, Leah, first heard about the camp from a friend in California.

“This friend was part of a youth group that was flying from California to Missouri to serve at the camp back in 2015,” he said.

They asked if Leah wanted to join them and she did, so we drove her up and she served alongside them, he said.

“After that first year she was hooked,” he said. “She started telling her friends and in 2016, about six friends joined her from her homeschool group.”

Last year, nine local youth went to the camp, and this year, Schwab said 19 in the youth group at Heritage will be involved,” he said. “The tuition for the camp is $250 per counselor or barnstormer; that is why we held the car wash-a-thon.”

Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp that serves those with physical and mental disabilities and just about any age is welcome, Schwab said.

“If you are 14-15 years old, and it's your first time, you serve as what they call a Barnstormer,” he said. “Barnstormers are the housekeepers, waiters and all-around helpers for each cabin; this gives the newbees a chance to observe the counselors and campers.”

Each cabin is made up of about seven pairs of counselors and campers, he said, so the ratio is one-to-one.

“If you are a counselor, you are responsible for the same camper all week long,” he said. “Counselors get one, one-hour break per day. It's pretty intense and the kids are changed forever.”

The camp is set up so campers can participate in traditional summer camp activities that have been altered to accommodate their disability, he said.

Canoeing, archery, zip lines, swimming, etc., are offered.

“They even have certain weeks in which the campers can have their non-disabled siblings join them,” he said. “And I can only imagine how wonderful it must feel for the parents of some of these kids.”

He said he has heard that for some of these parents, Camp Barnabas is the only break they have ever gotten from caring for their special needs child.

The Heritage youth group will be serving at the camp from June 16-22.

For more information, visit CampBarnabas.org or HeritageShawnee.org.