With the first step onto the grounds of Barefoot Republic Camp in Fountain Run, Kentucky, visitors can’t help but notice the smiles on kids’ faces as they participate in a variety of activities. From singing to BMX biking, from water sports to art, and everything in between, Barefoot Republic Camp strives to unite children from all different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds together through common interests and activities.
“We focus on diversity and we intentionally try to bring kids together from different backgrounds,” Barefoot Republic Founder and Executive Director Tommy Rhodes said. “We partner with a lot of different organizations, such as refugee organizations, and this summer we have 28 different ethnic backgrounds represented here. It’s a great opportunity to get kids together and rubbing shoulders that aren’t normally hanging out together.”
Barefoot Republic, founded in 2009, is one of the hundreds of organizations to receive a grant from the Predators Foundation over the last 15 years, and another example of the variety of different organizations and programs the Predators Foundation is able to help succeed.
While the physical site of the camp is just north of the Tennessee state line in Kentucky, Rhodes and his family spend their non-camp season living in Nashville. Rhodes found out about the Predators Foundation grant program from other Middle Tennessee organizations that have participated in the program in the past. Applying for their first grant many years ago, the Predators Foundation has helped fund equipment for BMX biking, street hockey and more.
“The Preds are incredible partners and have supported a lot of our action and adventure initiatives through the years,” Rhodes said.
“We use these [BMX biking, street hockey] as platforms for building relationships between these students. It’s amazing to see how friendships are sparked just through common interests.”
The camp received their most recent Predators Foundation grant in May, this grant fully funded “The Predator,” a 650-foot zip line. “The Predator” begins on a platform outside of Barefoot Republic’s tree house village cabins, runs across the recreational lake and ends just after the horseback riding area.
“It’s an incredible ride, and the kids have absolutely loved it this summer,” Rhodes said. “It’s really added that extra element, and made the whole camp experience and action and adventure component feel even a little more legitimate.”
Established in September 1998, the Predators Foundation strives to meet the educational, social, health and cultural needs of the community by offering unique resources and financial support to local youth-oriented organizations. All 501(c)3 organizations in Middle Tennessee are eligible to receive grants, which are distributed once a year. For more information on the Nashville Predators Foundation grants, visit www.nashvillepredators.com/foundation.