Camp Southern Ground in Fayetteville starts its first week-long overnight summer camps June 17, with a new 128-bed lodge and plenty of experience with fun camp activities that challenge kids with learning differences or social or emotional problems and typical kids.

The camp was founded by Zac Brown, of the Zac Brown Band, a Georgia native and former camper and camp counselor who believes a positive camp experience transforms lives. He donated the land and most of the design and building costs for the camp, and continues to donate $2 from each ticket sold on tour. Scholarships are available for kids whose families are unable to pay. Southern Ground recently received “Greatness Lives Here” recognition from Mercedes-Benz USA.

“Zac believes mainstream or typical kids often suffer from a lack of perspective,” says Mike Dobbs, president of Southern Ground. They might not appreciate all their parents provide or they might take for granted their ability to solve problems, complete school work or just live an everyday life.

“A lot of people think our camp is just for special needs, but we need typical kids, too. It’s an adventure camp unlike any other for any kid,” he says.

At camp, all kids are put in seven-member all male or all female tribes that look like a cross-section of America – rich, poor, learning challenged or not, gifted athletes or uncoordinated, outgoing or shy, different religions, varied lifestyles – to participate in activities. By the end of camp, they’re all friends with a better appreciation of their differences and strengths, camp director Scott Hicok says.

The Camp has music classes, sports, culinary classes, organic gardening, science and nature hikes and biking, archery, arts and crafts, games and more, plus opportunities to showcase talent.

–Amanda Miller Allen 

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