Rotary District 6890 is proud to have its clubs support Rotary’s Camp Florida. Located in Brandon, the mission of Rotary’s Camp Florida is to provide special needs user groups with clean, safe, barrier-free camping facilities. The camp’s vision is that all special needs people may experience the fun and enjoyment of camping.
The campgrounds and facilities are owned by Rotary’s Camp Florida, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. The corporation operates under the supervision of a Board of Directors with members coming from various Rotary clubs and Districts.
Rotary’s Camp Florida (RCF) was founded to acquire, operate and maintain a year-round camp facility for children with special medical needs. The need for RCF was first made known to a local Rotary Club that had provided substantial support and contributions to the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases. Each year, Karen Moffitt and Dr. Judish would visit the club to give a report on the hospital, the children and a special camping program operated for children with cancer.
At the conclusion of her presentation in January, 1991, Karen casually mentioned that the Center was losing the facility it had previously used. Several members of the club were real estate brokers and knew that the United Methodist Church owned an old summer camp right in the heart of Brandon. They had closed the camp because it was not economically feasible to operate it. A small group of club members met at the camp in March 1991. The Center thought that the camp would be perfect for their needs. The Methodist Church was willing to sell the property for charitable purposes, for the land value, throwing in the buildings at a cost of $440, 000.00. As the camp had been built in the 1950s, and was not designed for special-needs children, substantial work and repairs were required. The cabins needed air conditioning; every window and door needed replacing; the roofs were past their useable lives; the cabins needed insulating; it was necessary to replace the roof and insulate the cabins; the electrical system had to be completely upgraded and there were sidewalks needed throughout the property. A committee was formed to study the feasibility of buying and operating the camp. The property on which RCF sits was purchased and remodeled with the proceeds of a $558,000.00 loan from Fort Brooke Bank. Twenty-eight Rotarians personally guaranteed the loan. The then 17 Rotary Clubs in Hillsborough County contributed $100.00 per member and contributed over $110,000.00, to cover the first year’s operating budget.
Since then, Rotary Clubs from throughout Florida and individuals have contributed to the Camp. It is the hope that Rotarians and others throughout the world will also support this most worthwhile endeavor. The first group of campers came in June, 1992. That summer five special needs groups used RCF. Today RCF is used by many groups and is in use almost year-round. In 2001 the mortgage on the property was fully paid.
To learn more, or arrange for a speaker to present at your organization, please call (813) 654-4042 or visit RotarysCampFlorida.org.