Extreme Makeover: Home design team tackle a summer camp
|Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
The Teas Family
Recap By J.G. Bird
The golden core of this episode is in having volunteers and campers recollecting this Camp facility’s past and the unselfish years the Teas have sacrificed their own comfort in order to continue breathing life into its 80 acres. The Extreme Makeover designers and nearly 3000 volunteers converge on the site for one week in late August. The Teas’ main house is on its last legs, but there’s much that can be accomplished for the benefit of the entire camp too, so there’s a higher than normal benchmark for this remodel. One house, one bunkhouse (for counselors), and Ty’s contribution, a mystery structure next to the bunkhouse in case there’s a rainy day at camp is accomplished. I picked out a few lines from the show’s new theme song, namely, “…we’ll make it through” and “one purpose…” and realized how aptly this fits with the Teas’ family outlook. That theme song, by the way, is credited to Glen Ballard and the band, O.A.R. Tanya McQueen is a new designer joining the crew as of this episode.
The Design Team makes their way onto the verdant backwoods property in Purdy, Missouri. Paul and Cyndy Teas, along with their college-aged kids, son, Trace, and daughter, Kayman primarily have lives that revolve around helping others – specifically ill and disabled children. They work side-by-side with volunteers to provide a barrier-free camp experience. The application video focuses on encouragement from campers and counselors, plus the Teas’ own kids to renovate the home that is looked over. Anytime money comes in, it’s directed at facilities for the campers. The Teas would rather see money go toward providing the tuition for camping children. Mom and dad will have it no other way.
It’s clear from speaking to each member of The Teas’ household they live a simple, good life. As long as there is a roof over their heads, each looks forward to their operating season. The Camp’s name, .Camp Barnabas, is after the Saint of encouragement.
The original camp structures were already sixty years old when they purchased the site, renovated several of the cabins, using up retirement savings and opened the camp ten years ago. Their own home suffered neglect while their hearts and minds were expanded during those years providing a campo experience for many seriously disabled children.
When the Extreme Makeover team is looking over the house, it’s clear where the foundation has shifted, drywall is missing on a section of ceiling. The shower is inoperable.
I found the usual surprise of the crew’s arrival a bit too obviously staged – The counselors and 50 or so of the special needs kids were rounded up to call the Teas out from their home – but hey, no need for a megaphone! Here, we are first introduced to the camp’s “O” standing ovation. It’s the way all the kids can participate in a “standing” ovation, chanting a big long “Oh” sound with arms raised up in an “O” shape.
Paul, the father, is proud of his kids and their college efforts. Mom speaks of Kayman’s work for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. It is also explained to Ty that the campers will steal your heart. Ty says, “I can see that already!”
We have a segue to a nice view from the camp - Inspiration Point. Brass name plates on a medium size cross memorialize campers who have attended this camp and later died. From a vantage point on the granite outcrop where this memorial stands, Ty and his crew of designers finalize the plan to provide three structures for this deserving family venture.
This family’s mountain home is decayed. The deck support looks unstable. The family themselves suggest burning it down. Bonfire demolition – how perfect for camp.
Four different fire station crews converge on the campsite for demolition. All Ty and the designers have to do is sit back and toast marshmallows. In the video report to the vacationing family, Ty reassures the family that the bonfire method is unusual but the use of their house “for kindling” is beneficial for the local fire companies. It’s a Controlled Burn, and the firefighters are training as they manage the flames.
While the family is vacationing at Hilton Head, South Carolina, and can only watch the video feed of this very large bonfire, the show finds a way to use this camping allusion to gather the campers and counselors around for a song. No, they didn’t hold hands and sing Kumbaya. The group is joined by Country singer, Trisha Yearwood. Her new song, “Standing Out in the Crowd,” carries a strong message for the group of kids.
PB2 Companies, the Rogers, Ark., architecture and engineering firm that built the recent Nick home returns for this project. At least 2000 of the volunteer crew were organized by this company. Steve Butcher quietly thanks his team for joining and gets the ball rolling on clearing debris for the foundation of the Teas’ new home the very next day.
Paul fills a big portion of the segment with his observations about “big equipment” ballet.
The designers communicate by walkie-talkie to illustrate that much is going on in several locations. It’s Day Three and they’re just at finalizing the Main House’s foundation. Preston is happily playing Frisbee Golf with campers. Then Paul and Ed get dragged into singing onstage in the cafeteria before collecting outlines of hands, feet, faces for a tree sculpture they’re thinking of calling the “Tree of Life” for the Main House family room. In context, it’s a kind of counterpoint to the Inspiration Point memorial already on the site. Something for the family to look up at and see in their house everyday to remind them of the campers involved in this particularly special week.
University of Missouri, known as “MIZZOU” is the school both Kayman and Trace attend. Trace is in the football program and wants to earn a position as place kicker. Preston and Paul visit the fields at Trace’s school. First, they take pictures of six free-standing columns on the campus. Paul says it’s inspiration for Trace’s bed design. Then they “pilfer” football equipment.
An unexpected surprise is cooked up to benefit a camp modeled after Paul and Cyndy Teas’ camp. We are introduced to Anya, a Russian visitor, a woman with mild Cerebral Palsy. She came as a camper to Camp Barnabus, and then returned as a counselor. She now has begun “Camp Butterfly” for disabled Russian children. Ty welcomes Lance Bass of N’sync to the site. He has Russian heritage and makes a large donation to her camp. The Teas family is amazed to see Anya in this video coverage. And the young woman is pretty stunned to be handed a $50,000 check on the spot. The Teas are happy for her good fortune; they comment that she could go from serving 8 kids to 80 kids.
I was dissatisfied, at first, by the structure of the buildings we see going up. Of course it’s been made clear more than once that the short time frame for completing the project for each family means a good portion of construction is pre-fab. Yet since every building here is a single story, it is looking very cookie-cutter and like manufactured homes.
Metal structure covered by drywall – I hope that’s structurally in preparation for Missouri winters! Main home roofline looks nested, growing smaller toward the front entry.
Oddly, the bunk house looks more impressive. But I speak of the interior, and hardly any interior has been shown of the Main House.
The counselors and Ty experience a unique art lesson with the kids. A successful painter,
Robert, visits camp and tells his story to the kids – He’s a quadriplegic and he paints by holding a long-handled brush with his teeth. Soon, everyone is creating something colorful to add to the wall décor around camp.
At the end of the 1st hour, Ty gets caught up in a camp song tease, so he can barely finish his usual announcement that there’s still one more hour of show. It’s kind of refreshing to see Ty flabbergasted by a crowd of kids.
Preston takes lots of pictures of the campers and counselors. The hallways of the Teas home will be dotted with lovely, framed black and white portraits from his effort.
Finally, we get a bit of designing:
Our newest designer, Tanya is showing off the Hadley mural across whole walls and doorways for Kayman’s room. It will evoke a dock on the ocean, like the Caymen Islands. Ed’s building the dock bed. We also see Tanya along with Preston doing the shopping for tasteful furnishings.
A playground gets soft rubber material added for safety. It’s joyfully brought in by a vendor from New Jersey. Improvements to a “Rope Course” on the campsite are highlighted with a demonstration of a zip line. They tap poor Paul DiMeo for the first “fly” then show how the kids can ride.
Then Ty is off on a special mission. Ian Black at TV Guide sees Ty in his office to broker a deal for 10,000 copies of the old style TV Guide magazine as part of Ty’s secret room design – What? Okay, you’ll get it in a minute. TV Guide is also proposing a large donation to Camp Barnabus out of the sales of its new, larger format magazine. They want Ty to grace its inaugural cover. Ty poses for the cover for the donation to the camp. This cover was already being highlighted by the press in the past week. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that it’s Ty’s birthday this week too – so for love of Ty, TV Guide, an effortless donation to Camp Barnabas – Why not pick up a copy of the new magazine.
We’re one hour and twenty in and finally seeing paint on the walls and natural materials treatments covering the bland internal structure of the Main House. Stone façade is placed on frontage walls.
Back at the bunk house, Preston is disgusted at Ed’s inability to make a bed. Tanya encourages his first efforts after learning that his mommy usually did it for him!
We also get a segment to indoctrinate Tanya McQueen into the designer-led tearfest. She spends some time talking to a girl visiting the set, not attending camp this year due to frequent dialysis. It dawns on Tanya that this girl may never be returning to Camp Barnabus. She gives the terminally ill girl a peek at Kaman’s room. In the late afternoon, a break is called for everyone scurrying to finish construction, and a young blind boy sings “Amazing Grace.” This boy, Devon, has camped here the past 5 years and proclaims his thanks and encouragement to all the workers.
It’s time for the reveal, and surprise after surprise will come for the unassuming Teas. First, the designers drive up in two 2006 Ford Explorers. Back windows have been customized with the Camp Barnabus name. There’s a new paved driveway.
Where the bus has been parked, before the Main House, a large gathering of past campers, counselors and all the volunteer construction workers begin the chant to “Move That Bus!” The senior Teas are both excited and shocked at first look. The parents then both tear up and turn to hug their kids. Ty invites them to enter the new home. Before reaching the door, they look overhead – “Enlarging the Spirit Encouraging the Heart,” reads the large sign hanging over the entry.
The designers stated a few times that they kept the design to one level and made the rooms smaller than what most would expect. It was more to the Teas’ liking. They focused on the areas that were important – the gathering areas. Kitchen, Family room, Dining table. Mr. Teas is happy with an oversized leather chair in a sitting corner. These areas are noted by the family members as making it “Home.” The overhead kitchen lighting and knotty pine ceiling treatment are a hit. Mrs. Teas likes the wood burning stove in a stone wall enclosure just off the kitchen’s center island. The Tree of Life sculpture affected them as they recognized individual camper’s hand outlines.
Trace’s MIZZOU-inspired room throws him for a loop. To keep with the place-kicker theme, muralist Nancy Hadley had actual football skins patterned (like fish scales) along an entire wall room. He decked out in football fan gear and excitedly notes the six columns at the foot of his bed.
Kayman’s Beach Dock bedroom wowed her - the whole room is muraled and in addition to her bed, there’s an oversized hammock. That’s really about all the room had. Of course she’s in college and this room is more like a weekend stop anyway.
Cyndy and Paul fawn over the quality furnishings and simple but elegant feel of their room. A place to escape. They giggle over the “luxury” of a shower in the classic bath, including a deep claw foot tub. The bed is a tall 4 poster requiring steps.
“Barnabunk” the name given the first camp improvement surprise is very appreciated by Cyndy Teas. All these years of slowly renovating cabins and allowing any overflow of volunteers to sleep wherever they could within her own house is officially ended. This is a suitable and wonderful addition for the comfort of those that help the Teas carry out their Camp’s mission. She is really overjoyed.
Ty introduces “The Silver Lining” Media Room as an answer to what the campers have available during inclement weather. It’s very funky with a large shag area rug and retro chairs semicircled in front of a plasma screen tv. The length of one wall has a mural of thousands of TV Guide covers held in place by clear Ecoresin panels. The seats of several ladder-back chairs are made from blocks of TV Guide magazines even. The campers and workers get to enter the new structure and take it all in.