Country music star Joe Nichols recently took on a team of fifth graders on the celebrity edition of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader," tackling a variety of subjects ranging from geography to social studies.
Nichols played for his favorite charity, Camp Barnabas, located near Purdy, winning $125,000 for the camp that caters to young people with special needs. His younger sister, Kelli, has attended the camp for several years.
With the unexpected windfall, the co-founders Paul and Cyndy Teas were able to break ground last week on a new medical facility at the camp, Lauren's WellHouse.
"This will be the Crown Jewel for Camp Barnabas," said Paul Teas. "This facility is one that will be worthy of the kids, worthy of the campers and an opportunity to give back to the community."
The Teas will use the Nichols donation as part of a matching grant from the Mabee Foundation, thus doubling the amount of money available to construct the state-of-the-art clinic.
The Mabee Foundation funds are used to aid Christian religious organizations, charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning and hospitals, among others.
The WellHouse is named for Lauren Hauschild, a camper who inspired Paul and Cyndy Teas to start their Christian-based summer camp program in 1994. Following her experience with cancer, Hauschild expressed her desire to "just be a normal kid at camp" to Cyndy Teas, who was at that time the director of health services at Kanakuk Kamps in Branson.
"The Lord put it on our hearts, and we realized that the community has its own needs," Cyndy said. "Rural farmers, the unemployed and others in the community are uninsured. This clinic will be open to the public in order to give back to the community."
Camp Barnabas has partnered with Access Family Care of Neosho, an organization dedicated to providing healthcare to underserved, underinsured and uninsured people. Lauren's WellHouse will be open to the public, offering screenings and services to those in need.
The clinic will offer primary care medical services to those with chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as physicals and tests on an ongoing, accessible and affordable basis.
"If we find any serious health concerns we will refer the patient to a specialist for treatment," Cyndy said in a separate interview. "But this will be like any other general or family practice clinic."
Cyndy said the clinic would also offer educational classes on how to manage diabetes, lifestyle changes and other topics of concern.
"By offering preventative healthcare, we will manage illness before it becomes a health crisis," she said. "This will be a huge outreach to the community."
Within the next few weeks, the Teas will host a local fundraising campaign to provide the necessary equipment for the clinic.
Camp Barnabas is also taking its unique program on the road, with Barnabas2 (B^2), which debuted last year in San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle, Wash. This year, the week-long adventure will also take place at camps in Tennessee and Colorado as well as an additional camp in Missouri.
"We have been very blessed to come up with a program that works," Cyndy said. "It's a blessing to both the campers and the staff. Every step of Barnabas growth has been God-ordained. I could never have wrapped myself around how big this has gotten."
But the dream doesn't stop with the new clinic. As the camp continues to grow, so does the Christian-based outrreach.
"I'd like to see us go a step beyond having a week of fun," Teas said. "There is a desperate need for residential housing. I'd like to see us developing internships and residential programming for our campers and allow them to take the next step in having meaningful jobs and lives."