By Amanda Boston
Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that more than 3.6 million referrals of child abuse and neglect are reported annually to child protective agencies. In an effort to reverse the negative effects of abuse, Scott Mulhollen of Lithia is launching a Royal Family KIDS Camp in Tampa Bay. The camp’s mission is to provide a week of life-changing memories for children ages 6 to 12 that have experienced abuse, neglect and abandonment. The faith-based camp will operate from Sunday, June 4 through Sunday, June 9.
For 20 years, Scott and Kris Mulhollen have been a powerful voice for abused children as foster parents and founders of the Modern Orphans Ministry at Bay Life Church in Brandon. Still, the couple dreamt of opening and operating a one-week camp for foster kids. Scott said, “It seemed like a daunting task, but literally two weeks after announcing that we were going to start the process of doing the camp, a visitor at our church approached us. She said she was looking to bring a camp to Tampa.”
Visiting the church was Megan Jetter, a family coordinator with Pinellas County Housing Authority. She has been a camp counselor at the Royal Family KIDS Camp in Ocala and wanted to start a camp in Tampa. The encounter was more than just a coincidence—it was a blessing. Since that fortuitous meeting in October 2014, Scott, Kris and Megan have trained as camp directors and have worked non-stop to turn their dream into a reality.
The weeklong camp offers overnight lodging in cabins in a safe and loving environment with a ratio of one adult to one child. Each volunteer undergoes an extensive background check, a face-to-face interview and two days of volunteer training. The training takes place at Bay Life Church in Brandon on Saturday, April 8 and Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For an event of this caliber to be fruitful, it will require 50 adult volunteers. Volunteers may serve as counselors or in other supportive roles in areas of music, drama, sports and outdoor activities.
On Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Re/Max Across the Bay, located at 5664 Fishhawk Crossing Blvd., Lithia will open up its office to register volunteers, answer questions and accept donations. Volunteers may also register at www.TampaKidsCamp.org.
Lisa Dean, a realtor with Re/Max Across the Bay and key organizer for the camp said, “Volunteers are what we need more than anything.” The premise of the Royal Family KIDS Camp is near and dear to her heart. From 11 years old, she spent a good portion of her childhood in five foster homes.
In addition to counselors, the camp needs financial sponsorship and donations. David Longspaugh, the owner and broker of Re/Max Across the Bay has stepped up as a corporate sponsor. Moreover, Longspaugh has designated the Re/Max office in Lithia as a collection point for donations and supplies. Donations may be dropped off at the office Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office is collecting boy and girl gifts valued at $25 along with necessary camp supplies.
For more information on how to volunteer, donate or sponsor, please visit www.TampaKidsCamp.org. Also, you may contact the camp director, Scott Mulhollen at Scott@rfkctob.com or 641-4141. Royal Family KIDS Camp Tampa Bay is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity under the name Tampa Foster KIDS Camp – FEIN 81-1735611. All donations are tax deductible.