Concept art of the treehouse, environmental center and boardwalk.

Rotary’s Camp Florida, a 501(c)(3), barrier-free, ADA-compliant camp, is planning to construct a waterfront environmental center and boardwalk, but to do so it is seeking donations. With only a single other place in Hillsborough County for kids to experience Florida’s outdoors in a classroom setting (Nature’s Classroom), special needs campers have a hard time getting that same experience, so Rotary’s Camp Florida wants to provide this opportunity for them.

The camp’s center and boardwalk will be universally accessible. “The focus of the camp is actually for special needs user groups, so that means we provide a barrier-free environment for any child or any adult with any disability, so we’re making sure that it’s accessible to visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility issues, people that use wheelchairs…so that anybody can actually use the treehouse at the environmental center,” said Liz Fields, executive director of Rotary’s Camp Florida.

The camp aims to make it an educational and fun experience for everyone, no matter their needs. “I just think that a lot of children with disabilities don’t have the opportunity to enjoy things like that,” she added. “It’s also something that I think we can train children about nature, preservation…we have a lot of animals here, so it’s one thing you want to make sure that they understand about; the nature, the native plants, native wildlife.”

Rotary’s Camp Florida talked with the Treehouse Guys, a TV program, about building the center, which will cost at least $150,000. The camp has reached $90,000 so far.

“Of course, if they don’t take it on as a project for the TV show, we will continue with the project and we will use that funding to build it ourselves, so it will get done one way or another,” said Fields.

A generous donor of the center is offering a $50,000 match, so he will match new individual donors dollar for dollar. With this, the center’s funding should go over more easily.

The environmental center and boardwalk will be located at Rotary’s Camp Florida, which is at 1915 Camp Florida Rd. in Brandon. For more information or to donate, visit https://rotaryscampflorida.org/environmental-center-boardwalk/. You can also mail a check to: Rotary’s Camp Florida, Inc., P.O. Box 1027, Brandon, FL 33509-1027.