Barefoot Republic is a multicultural, Christ-centered camping platform that celebrates diversity and builds unity through our artistic, athletic and team-building programs for rising K-12th graders. According to the American Camp Association, there are over 12,000 summer camps in the United States. To date, Barefoot is the only Christ-centered camp purposely designed to unite students from diverse racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Barefoot feels this is a unique opportunity to experience the Gospel and capture a glimpse of Heaven. Our artistic, athletic and team-building programs create a level playing filed and build cross-cultural relationships between youth from radically different backgrounds that forever impact our camper’s biblical worldview. As they learn more about God’s creation, this transforming experience broadens their understanding of God’s character to the point that it is impossible to ever look at someone from a different background the same. These truths are carried in the hearts and minds of students back to their churches, schools and communities where Barefoot has witnessed young people not only impacting their peers, but also their parents.
Being barefoot is a sign of vulnerability, our humanity, as well as a sign of our brokenness. It is only when we admit that we are barefoot, that we are able to comprehend our need and receive God’s provision.
We call our cabin groups republics – small communities comprised of kids from all nations who come together as a united family. During each session, every republic decides on its own name, working together to find common ground and quickly forging a new, common identity.
Barefoot Republic is a vehicle of hope. Barefoot will offer a glimpse of Heaven to a population of kids in need of the ability to dream of what God can do with their lives by uniting them with their parents, community and the church to help define His eternal purpose for each one of them.
To facilitate Christ-centered relationships between individuals from diverse racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds through an equally diverse platform of artistic, athletic and team-building programs.
To reflect God’s pursuit of His children through interests and passions, interpersonal relationships, and equipping students with tools for exploring and discovering God’s presence in their lives.
Barefoot Republic Camp began as a vision in 1991. During that summer, Tommy Rhodes, the founder and executive director of Barefoot, served as a 19-year-old camp counselor at Camp Mac outside of Birmingham, Al. Over the three months of camp, Tommy witnessed for the first time how God could use his life to impact the lives of others. This powerful redemption led to a restoration of hope within a young man scarred by a life filled with bad choices. Tommy left that summer with a God-sized dream and burden to provide similar opportunities to youth like himself who could not afford similar experiences.
Upon completing his undergraduate degrees at Belmont University in Biology and Chemistry, Tommy was accepted to Vanderbilt University’s Ph.D. program in Biomedical Science. Although Tommy had never forgotten his calling to camp ministry, he felt that he would first have to attain significant status and wealth to launch the vision. However, during his third year of the program, Tommy shared with his wife, Lane, that God had revealed now was the time. After much prayer and due diligence, they discovered a stunning 70-acre farm on a 20,000-acre lake outside Scottsville, Ky. Tommy felt led to leave his Ph.D. program and sell his baseball card collection to secure the land and initiate Barefoot Republic Camp.
To date, Barefoot has been able to provide 18 summers of camp programming. Initially, due to the nature of Barefoot’s mission and the lack of initial capital, the Board of Directors felt it crucial to demonstrate the impact of Barefoot’s ministry through hosting camp at local retreat centers and universities. Through God’s affirmation of Barefoot’s vision, with almost 13,000 campers, more than 2,000 volunteers and a dramatic increase in financial support, the first permanent Barefoot Republic Camp was established in 2009. We praise God for this pivotal step, which provides tremendous encouragement and insures Barefoot’s future for years to come.
Barefoot Republic Camp Vision Video