Camp Bayou fishing cabin

Few places allow visitors to experience Florida’s natural beauty like Ruskin’s hidden gem, Camp Bayou. Located on 160 acres of untouched habitat from wetlands to pine flatwoods, it is the perfect place for all ages to make a day trip.

Camp Bayou is a small non-profit nature center whose mission is “To sustain a portion of Florida’s original habitats in the Little Manatee River Watershed, and to promote appreciation and better understanding of our natural resources, local history and culture through education.”

Visit the Nature Center where you can browse the nature library, discovery tables, and specimens native to our area. Walk the land trails where you can explore a replica of a native village, stay on the lookout for gators and gopher tortoises, go bird watching, meander through the butterfly habitat, or view historic fishing cabins actually used in the area in the 1930s.

Visit the Paleo Preserve, a small non-profit museum, that features fossils, photos, and newspaper articles. Guests can also rent canoes to get up close to nature while they paddle a leisurely hour or so around the island south of the preserve.

As a non-profit, donations and volunteers are sincerely needed and appreciated. Dolly Cummings, manager, calls on the community: “We need volunteers who are passionate about nature willing to cover weekly time slots.”

Cummings believes in her small, dedicated crew, but she knows they could do so much more with additional help. Sadly, Camp Bayou experienced some theft recently. Someone broke into one of the cabins and stole four kayaks, two that were donated and two that were bought using a small community grant.

If anyone happens to see anyone trying to sell 2 small blue kayaks (6ft), a yellow kayak (8ft), and/or a red/orange kayak (8ft) please notify the local sheriff’s office.

Pre-registered groups can receive a “hands-on” dig experience at the Paleo Preserve, a “river dig” at the Peace River, and guided tours through their nature stations. Camp Bayou is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.. To find more information on adult and youth programs or make a donation, visit online at www.campbayou.org or call 641-8545.

Camp Bayou is located at 4140 24th St SE, Ruskin, 33570.