During our meeting March 11 Liz Fields, Executive Director of Rotary’s Camp Florida, told us about this very special camp, its facilities, and programs.  She said: "this camp is like no other, in that it provides an accessible facility for all children and adults with varying disabilities to experience camp.  Being ADA-compliant and barrier-free means that there is no limitation to the user groups that can use this beautiful facility."
 
The Rotary's Camp Florida brochure states the mission as: "to ensure that special needs children have the opportunity to experience the same fun and enjoyment of camping that we did as children … and thereby enrich them in mind, body and spirit."  To that end, Liz told us about the many improvements that are being made continually to accommodate newly recognized hazards and impositions affecting various special needs children.  Recently learning that the color yellow is an irritant for certain mental disabilities, alternate colors are being introduced for the cabins.
 
Some of the special facilities include:
Brick Patio – Wheelchair-accessible picnic tables
Nature Trail – a fully accessible trail that offers quiet areas and storytelling areas
Pool – 25-yard junior Olympic size pool with a lift for campers who use wheelchairs, a mister system and covered seating area beside the pool. 
Butterfly Garden and Gazebo — Sit, relax and enjoy the many species of butterflies that visit the gardens daily
Wheelchair Swings and WhisperGLIDERS® – specifically designed for use by people who use wheelchairs
Two Private Lakes – Chapman & Gornto. 
Canoes and Kayaks – Equipped with life jackets. 
Dock – Fishing poles and equipment available, soon to be added a boat lift
Barbeque Cooking Area – Gas grills for larger groups
 
Rotary’s Camp Florida does not provide programming for camps. The camp provides clean, safe, ADA-compliant, barrier-free facilities to qualified user groups that provide the necessary programming for a special camping experience that is  relevant and memorable for children with special needs.  Some camp program groups regularly using the facility include: Faces of Courage Camp (Cancer), Diabetes Family Camp, Epilepsy Services Foundation Camp, Autism Camp, Shriner's Hospital, Tourette's Syndrome Camp, and Muscular Dystrophy.
 
The facilities management, maintenance, and improvements are supported by five Rotary Districts and several Rotary clubs throughout Florida, which keeps the cost for the special needs camp programs in a reasonable range.  This provides the camp experience that would otherwise not be available for these children.
 
Following a lively question and answer session, President Ana provided a token of appreciation and many thanks to Liz for this informative program.

Liz is from England where she was a Stockbroker for Credit Suisse First Boston.  She moved to the USA in 1990 and proudly became a citizen in 2005.  Liz has extensive non-profit experience, having led Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County and Suncoast Harvest Food Bank.  With a very strong background in facilities management, her passion has always been ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.