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 to provide similar opportunities to youth like himself who could not afford similar experiences.

Tommy Rhodes,
Barefoot Republic Founder
& Executive Director

Upon completing his undergraduate degrees at Belmont University in Biology and Chemistry, 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 to launch the vision. However, during his third year of the program, Tommy shared with his wife, Lane, that God had revealed now was the time. After much prayer and due diligence, they discovered a stunning 70-acre farm on a 20,000-acre lake outside Scottsville, Kentucky. Tommy felt led to leave his Ph.D. program and sell his baseball card collection 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 twelve summers of camp programming. Initially, due to the nature of the mission and the lack of initial capital, the Board of Directors felt it crucial to demonstrate the ministry’s impact through hosting camp at local retreat centers and universities. Through God’s affirmation of the vision, with over 9,200 campers, 1,800 volunteers and a dramatic increase in financial support since our formation in 2000, the first permanent camp was established in 2009. We praise God for this pivotal step, which provides tremendous encouragement and ensures Barefoot Republic Camp and Retreat Center’s future for years to come.


To facilitate Christ-centered relationships between individuals from diverse racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds through an equally diverse platform of artistic, athletic and team-building programs. 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.