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Free Christian Retreat for Families with Special Needs Children

I just found out about a handicapped accessible, Faith-based way to relax and grow together as a family. The mission statement of Barren Heights Christian Retreat Center says it all:

"Our Mission is simply to love and encourage families. We do this by providing free mini-vacation style weekend retreats for families with physically or developmentally disabled children!"

I said a sincere "Praise the Lord" when our local Stone Soup Special Needs Ministry sent out an email notice that there were still spaces available for family retreats at Barren Heights.

The four of us have not had a vacation in three years, and have been able to eat together in restaurants for only five months of every year. My husband and I usually have a child free, out of the house date every one to two years. So I jumped at the opportunity for our family to enjoy a handicapped accessible, Special Needs sensitive, family focused weekend in Scottsville, Kentucky.

Five years ago, Joe and Toni Rose recognized that it can be difficult for parents and caregivers of physically and developmentally challenged children to replenish themselves spiritually and emotionally. They built the Barren Heights Retreat Center in an effort to help not just parents, but families, relax and grow together in a Christian setting. Part of their ministry is to provide family enrichment weekends for free to qualified families.

I love camping, but thought our family would have to wait until Clara-Bear was older and stronger to get the kids in nature for more than a day hike. Air conditioned, wheelchair accessible cabins with their own bathrooms sounds 5 star to me! All facilities are thoughtfully designed with the ADA in mind, including paved pathways to the firepit and wheelchair height basketball goals.

Board members and volunteers run the family enrichment activities. You do not have to be part of a group to attend a retreat! Each retreat weekend is comprised of up to 3 families (2 parents and up to 4 children). Retreats are Friday through Sunday from May through October. Check their schedule, if you see "submit your application" that means there is still space available for those dates.

With Clara-Bear being homebound for the past five winters, regular church participation has not been a part of our family life. Since this is her last housebound winter, we're looking forward to attending church and serving together as a family. Our Barren Heights experience will be an incredible way to re-introduce Christ to our family. Now, I just need someone to watch Red Dog while we're gone.

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  1. Thanks for posting this. I stumbled upon your blog while searching for children with special needs blogs. :) This is an awesome oppurtunity, and one we would no have known about. Feel free to check out our family blog as well

    Thanks again,

  2. Anara says:

    Welcome, Andrea! I'll check out your blog. Maybe we'll meet your family at Barren Heights some day!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Our family was blessed to visit Barren Heights last weekend. We drove quite a ways..from Georgia...but both kids are already asking about going again !! We have two kids, ages 12and 13yo. Our 13 yo has ASD/Narcolepsy/and Bipolar traits.
    We don't travel much either..and accomodating our son's often changing needs and moods are a challenge. At Barren Heights though it was awesome. Our daughter..who really did'nt want to go to another "special" camp for her brother and AUTISM..well she loved it too. She was acknowledged and ministered to as well. It is a family thing. No TVs, no distractions..time to reconnect with yor family around loving folks who go that extra mile to understand . AWESOME..and a true blessing.

  4. Anara says:

    Thank you for sharing - especially about your Neurotypical daughter. When my son was 2 1/2, Clara-Bear's visiting teachers and therapists started including him less in their home visits. We were housebound at the time, and "school" was the high point of his week b/c he had no one else to play with. He was so hurt that he refused to participate for weeks. It really hurt me for him - I didn't expect the emotional challenges of being the sibling of a Special Needs child would start so young. I'm excited that he will get some understanding at Barren Heights!

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