Fayette County News

Fayette County


Spaceship treehouse touches down at Camp Southern Ground

A spaceship-styled treehouse was unveiled at Camp Southern Ground Monday afternoon. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)
Children rush to get their first peek inside.

Back in the woods somewhere in Fayette County you might soon hear tales of a UFO among the trees guided by young pilots. Don’t fear. It’s just the new spaceship-themed treehouse at Camp Southern Ground, unveiled Monday afternoon as part of an episode of Animal Planet’s program “Treehouse Masters.”
The 1,300 square-foot treehouse with over 200 feet of ADA-approved ramps will be one of the centerpieces of Grammy Award-winning artist Zac Brown’s passion-project, Camp Southern Ground. The treehouse will be dual-purpose with all the tools needed for fun for the campers or work for the staff.
“I wanted this treehouse to create a truly unique space for Camp Southern Ground, a space that would be elastic for use during camp, as well as a year-round think tank for developing and growing the absolute best programming we can,” said Brown. “While being a one-of-a-kind space for the campers to enjoy and escape too, the space will also serve as a high-level round table where thought-leaders in the fields of neurobehavioral disorders, nutrition, military respite, etc. can come together and discuss how Camp Southern Ground can be on the cutting edge of serving all of those groups. I’m so excited to have been able to work on this project with Pete Nelson and his crew at Treehouse Masters. From day one he understood my vision for this project and helped to make it so much more than the average treehouse. The ‘Space Crab’ is definitely the futuristic perch in the woods that I imagined!”
Ben Ferguson, Director of Construction for Camp Southern Ground, said the treehouse has been years in the making, and the finished product has turned out even more exciting than first planned.
“Initially it was going to be a true small, less than 300 square-foot treehouse, literally in a tree,” said Ferguson. After many starts and stops on the project, they connected with Pete Nelson, the driving force behind the Treehouse Masters show. “Pete came back with the vision for a spacecraft, and Zac loved it.”
As the camp itself grows nearer to completion, it gets closer to a dream come true for both Zac and his wife, Shelly.
“On our first date over 10 years ago, Zac and I were sitting at a restaurant and he told me he was going to build a camp for children,” remembered Shelly. “It’s unbelievable to see it coming to fruition and see it all happening.”
Zac was inspired to create Camp Southern Ground by his own experiences as a camp counselor. Among its goals will be helping children overcome academic, social, and emotional difficulties so they can reach their true potential. They will host camps for many kids who are special to their hearts, including those with developmental challenges and families of service members.
“For us, to be able to help military families and to be able to help children who have neurobehavioral disorders, to have it be everyone’s camp and not just ours, is the goal,” said Shelly. “It’s happening so quickly with the help of so many amazing people that we feel so blessed.”
“Treehouse Masters” will be airing the Camp Southern Ground episode as the season finale of their fifth season, Friday, September 16 at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet.

By Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.