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Our Story
Why Scholarship?
Racial Reconciliation


Summer Camp kids in Kentucky

Our mission at Barefoot Republic is to facilitate Christ-centered relationships between individuals from diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds through an equally diverse platform of artistic, athletic and team-building programs.
We strive 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 and Retreat Center seeks to honor God and share the good news of Christ’s reconciling love with the world. We are 'inter-denominational,' looking to the Bible as our source for teaching, and addressing the basics of the Christian faith that will positively impact students from all backgrounds.


Barefoot Republic Camp Logo

Being barefoot is a sign of
vulnerability and 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 to receive                                                God’s provision. We consider our
cabin groups 'republics' – small
communities comprised of kids
from all nations who come together                                                            as a united family. During each session, each republic decides on its own name, working together to find common ground and quickly forging a new, common identity. Barefoot Republic Camp is a vehicle of hope.  We want to offer a glimpse of Heaven to a population of kids in need of the ability to dream... to dream of what God can do with their lives by uniting them with their parents, community and the church. And, to help define His eternal purpose for each one of them.


Barefoot Republic Camp and Retreat Center began as a vision in 1991. During that summer, Tommy Rhodes, the founder of Barefoot Republic, served as a 19-year-old camp counselor at Camp Mac outside of Birmingham, Alabama. 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 on his heart to provide similar opportunities to youth like himself who could not afford such experiences.
Overnight Camp in Kentucky
Overnight Camp in Kentucky

Upon completing his undergraduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry at Belmont University, 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  in order to launch the vision. However, during his third year of the program, Tommy shared with his wife, Lane, that God had revealed it was time to pursue his dream. After much prayer and due diligence, they discovered a stunning 70-acre farm (aerial image below) on a 20,000-acre lake outside Scottsville, Kentucky. Tommy felt led to leave his Ph.D. program and sell his baseball card collection in order to secure the land and initiate Barefoot Republic Camp and Retreat Center.

Barefoot Republic Camp and Retreat Center seeks to celebrate diversity and build unity through a diverse platform of artistic, athletic and action adventure programs.
To date, Barefoot Republic has been able to provide 20 summers
of camp programming. However, initially, due to the nature of the mission and the lack of start-up capital, the Board of Directors
felt it crucial to demonstrate the ministry’s impact through hosting camp at local retreat centers and universities.
Since our formation in 2000, we have witnessed God’s continued affirmation of our vision. 19,000 campers, 2,500 volunteers and a dramatic increase in financial support led to our first permanent camp in 2009. We praise God for this pivotal step, which provided tremendous encouragement and ensured a bright future for Barefoot Republic Camp and Retreat Center for years to come.
In June 2021, we opened Turner Lodge - another reminder of God's faithfulness. Turner Lodge is allowing us to expand the number of campers and retreat guests we can accommodate.