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Page 12- The News, March 3, 2016 Summer Camps, Programs and Activities Barefoot Republic promotes unity, diversity and is Christ-centered Unity ~ Diversity ~ Christ-

centered — these are the words by which Barefoot Republic stakes its mission. It isn’t just any summer camp. In a world where differences are often taboo, Barefoot Republic is a place where children can express themselves as individuals. That was the goal when

Executive Director Tommy Rhodes developed the concept for a different kind of youth summer camp. As a child grow- ing up with a single mother, he knew he didn’t want to create another camp that catered to just the wealthy.

Instead, after a stint as a camp counselor in 1991, 19-year- old Rhodes set out to build a camp that would “look like Heaven.”

He left his Ph.D. program and sold his baseball card collection to secure the property and in 2000 realized his “God-sized” dream when Barefoot Republic was born. “Barefoot Republic Camp's mission is to bring students together that come from different ethnic, cultural and socio-eco- nomic backgrounds,” Rhodes said. “We want all children to come together as one in Christ, rather than being pulled apart through racial and religious ten- sion. At Barefoot, we celebrate each student for whom God creat- ed them to be, regardless of their skin color, past or home life." The overnight facility sits on an 110-acre farm outside Scottsville, KY, whereas day camps are held at strategic ven- ues around Nashville, TN. This summer will mark

Barefoot’s fifteenth year of pro- gramming. Since its inception, it has served more than 7,200 campers. Last year, more than 40 differ- ent ethnicities were represented and nearly 250 paid staff ran the camp’s programs. Barefoot experienced a 50 per- cent increase last year due in part to an exciting addition to its regular summer programming. Grammy-winning vocalist Amy Grant hosted two new day-camp sessions on her 400-acre proper- ty.

Barefoot will be returning to Grant's Farm this summer for another two weeks. “Barefoot at the Farm” will be held on June 6- 10 and again on June 13-17. All rising K-7th graders are wel- come to attend.

Rhodes said Grant was

inspired to offer these special sessions after her own daughter participated in a Barefoot

Republic overnight session last summer. For these sessions, the camp

will offer traditional camp pro- gramming, such as mountain biking, music production, dance, photography and STOMP, and will add outdoor adventure opportunities and horseback riding to the itinerary. While the Barefoot at the

Farm sessions will be unique, the same spirit of diversity as is present in all Barefoot Republic sessions will be the theme. That sense of unity begins in the campers’ small group, called “republics.” Campers in the overnight sessions bond with their “republics” in cabins. Republics represent small communities comprised of chil- dren from many different nationalities and backgrounds who come together as a united family. During each session, every republic decides on its own name, working together to find common ground and quick- ly forging a new, common identi- ty. In these republics, differences begin to disappear and campers witness their similarities out- weighing those things that might ordinarily divide them. While the main focus, camp isn’t the only thing Barefoot

Republic does. Its year-round retreat center can accommodate church, busi- ness or civic groups of 100-150 people. The site’s 110-acres of hiking, paintball fields, record- ing studio, ropes course, water sports and other activities are open to retreat center guests. In addition to eight day-camp sessions and seven overnight sessions, Barefoot Republic has expanded to one camp session in

Calling all walkers, runners, family and friends of Barefoot Republic

Please consider joining us for the 7th Annual "Run Barefoot" team, a partner- ship with the Nashville Rock & Roll Marathon & Half Marathon on Saturday, April 30.

If you are interested in participating as a runner, walker and/ or backer, contact Day Camp Director Cali Bolinger at 615-599-9683 or visit:

Southern California for the sec- ond year. More than 1,990 campers are expected throughout the summer across all sessions.

Visit the website at www. for more information on the retreat center or camps.

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