Bring on the beards, bears

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Runners in the Camp Barnabas Lumberjack 5K may be chased by a “bear” during the event, which raises money for scholarships for attendees of the special needs camp in rural Purdy. Contributed photo

Camp Barnabas Lumberjack 5K run fundraiser

On Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. at the Jordan Valley Park, located at 635 E. Trafficway St. in Springfield, lumberjacks and lumberjills will be gearing up for the Camp Barnabas fundraiser run.

Andrea Harp, director of marketing for Camp Barnabas, said all proceeds support the Camp Barnabas Scholarship Fund, which sends individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses to a life-changing week at Camp Barnabas in rural Purdy.

The run has transformed in recent years from a half-marathon to a 5K.

“That has really helped to make the event more fun and involve the camp more,” Harp said. “There used to be cheerleaders throughout the race to help motivate the runners. Last year was our transition year, and we did a virtual run.”

Harp said the virtual run was successful, but having an event where campers can physically come did much better, so Camp Barnabas decided to bring that back.

“People can register up to the day of the event,” she said. “We have about 100 people signed up as of now, and we hope to have 100 more.”

Harp said the sign-ups increase once the event gets closer because people have a better idea about the weather.

“The money goes to our scholarship fund,” she said. “We don’t charge campers full price. Instead, we charge about half of the actual cost for our campers to come, so every camper relies on that scholarship fund.”

For participants, this may be the most fun run yet, Harp said.

“We run for our campers, but we also love a fun race,” she said. “Participants get to dress warmly in their best lumberjack, flannel and themed outfits.”

Camp Barnabas has hosted other themed runs, but this is working up to be a camp favorite.

“We were planning it and just imagined a whole bunch of lumberjacks running and laughing,” Harp said. “The more runners there are, the more fun it will be.”

Camp Barnabas encourages everyone to get out and participate in a good cause.

“Like I said, this race is a little different — we won’t have cheerleaders to help motivate the runners,” Harp said. “This year, we have bears hidden throughout the 3.1-mile loop to help motivate the lumberjacks and jills who participate.”

The race will end with hot cocoa, heaters and tents.

“We’re excited to change up our race a bit this year,” said Mindy Frech, race director. “We wanted to bring more elements of camp with our theme and activities. Ultimately, though, it’s about our mission and raising money for our campers with special needs. That’s why we do this.”

For more information and to register online, people may visit

Camp Barnabas was established in 1994 and has welcomed almost 90,000 campers with disabilities and the youth who serve them over the past 25 years. Their mission is to change lives through disability ministry. To learn more, people may visit

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