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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From a mom who knows...

This is an entry from our friend Amy. Thank you Amy for taking the time to let everyone know how important Camp Southern Ground will be for your family!

Hearing about Camp Southern Ground was music to my ears.
A friend told me. Look it up online, she said. It’s a camp for special-needs kids.

I couldn’t get home to my computer fast enough.

You see, I have two boys, and both are autistic. My older son is high functioning and has successfully gone to YMCA camp the past two summers. 

My younger son is non-verbal. He has a full-time aide at school. He only eats four things. He makes funny noises.

Trust me, there’s no camp for a kid like him.

Even though he is sweet and gentle. He loves being outside, is wonderful with other children, and even rides horses (hippotherapy). He would have a blast sleeping in a tent, playing in a creek, and even roasting a marshmallow (he’d never eat it, of course.) 

Basically, he’s just a great nine-year-old kid who doesn’t talk, can’t tie his shoes, and occasionally wets the bed. 

But he can’t go to camp. Even though he has no physical disabilities or mental handicaps. He requires no special equipment, just a little more supervision and patience. But it doesn’t matter. He would never be welcome at any “typical” camp. 

And, you know, camp is a huge deal. For many of us, camp was our first real stab at independence, and the source of countless memories and lifelong friendships. 

I desperately want that for my son. His life is filled with challenges, and always will be. He deserves the opportunity to experience camp. He deserves to be a kid as much as any other kid.

Maybe even more.

And now, thanks to Mr. Brown, he will get to. Just the thought of my beautiful, amazing son at camp brings tears to my eyes. 

I simply can’t wait until the day I can tell him he gets to go to camp like his brother. 

I can already see the smile on his face. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Story...

Camp Southern Ground was founded by the Grammy Award-winning musician, Zac Brown. Despite all the irons in the fire, Brown nonetheless calls his foundation and camp plans his "life's work." "Having the camp and giving back is important for me," he says. "I'm very blessed to have what I have, and I know a lot of that's on credit for what I do down the road. It's very important for me to keep that in mind. I want to leave something behind that does some good after I'm gone." 

Zac Brown is founder and lead singer of the Grammy award-winning band the Zac Brown Band. Among the many awards received, chart-topping albums, and sold out tours across the country, Brown is involved in many other areas of creativity and leadership. Brown launched his Southern Ground Artists, Inc. record label in 2009 and signed Atlanta-based artists Sonia Leigh, Levi Lowrey and Nic Cowan. In addition to the music, Brown has also launched a line of steak rubs and barbecue sauces under the Southern Ground label, and in collaboration with photographer Jeffrey Skillings and writer/bandmate Coy Bowles, released his first cookbook 'Southern Ground' in 2010. As Brown notes, these projects have their roots in Zac's Place, a lakeside restaurant he used to co-own and run. "For me it's about creating something that's really excellent," he says. "People are going to be blown away by how good the products are." 

Zac attributes his success to his decision not to be easily categorized or to worry that his music was unclassifiable. "People that wanted to sign me to a label, they'd always want to know what genre my music was, and the fact that it didn't fit into any genre was always a big stumbling block for them. But I've held out, and realized that my music doesn't need a category. It comes from a real place, and that's what people identify with. Any artist that leaves his mark - whether it's painting or music, or whatever -- can't be afraid of not following in the footsteps of everyone else, you've got to break out and do your own thing. I think the average listener is prepared for a lot more diversity than the music industry is willing to acknowledge." 

In addition to Camp Southern Ground, Zac is passionate about food and family, not necessarily in that order. He cooks frequently when home with his family (he calls it "my therapy") and previously owned a restaurant with his Dad aptly called "Zac's Place," which served up southern cuisine culled from his family's personal recipes. He also cans his own version of candied sweet potatoes, bottles a one of a kind pork sauce and grows and makes fig preserves. He also breeds his "own" classification of dog, the Weimerhound (a Weimaraner and Bloodhound mix). 

Zac currently lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with his wife Shelly and their four daughters Justice, Lucy, Georgia and Joni.