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Finding Healing in Community and Camp

Zac Brown's Camp Southern Ground Welcome's Veterans and Their Families This Month

Tucked away on just over 400 acres in Fayetteville, folks can be found providing support to a group of military veterans, on a high-ropes course with children who are differently-abled, or tending gardens of organically grown produce. A decade ago, Camp Southern Ground was a dream in the mind of GRAMMY Award-winning musician, Zac Brown. Today, it is a beautiful, world-class representation of Zac’s heart for the underserved and for those who have served. 

The youngest of 12 kids and step-kids in his family, Zac was sent to summer camp every chance his parents got. He started at camps in North Georgia at age 7 as a camper, then after college, worked as a staff member. Those camps were designed as inclusion camps, meaning the campers were both neurotypical and neurodiverse. The impact that the neurodiverse kids had on the typical kids was what Zac noticed the most. Zac learned the importance of an inclusive environment and that is what inspired the vision of Camp Southern Ground. The desire to break down barriers and misconceptions about those who are differently-abled has been the core of Zac’s mission. Over nine weeks of the summer, Camp Southern Ground (CSG) is, distinctively, a 4-way inclusion camp that brings together typically developing children, children with neurodevelopmental differences, children from underserved areas, and children from active duty military and gold star, silver star and white star military families. During every week of summer camp, all are connecting, learning and growing together.

Veterans and their families also hold a special place in Zac’s heart. In non-summer months, Camp Southern Ground supports veteran mental health and wellbeing with two on-site programs. Because Zac has been able to leverage partnerships with organizations like the Avalon Network and others, including Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank of Home Depot, veterans can come from all over the country at no cost to them.

Warrior PATHH (Progressive Alternative Training for Helping Heroes), which starts with a 7-day initiation at CSG, is a transformative, lifelong, Posttraumatic Growth-based training program followed by three months of dedicated support, training, accountability, and connection from a team of trained combat veterans. CSG’s signature Warrior Week program, which also starts with a high-touch week at camp, is a well-being model to aid in the transition to life after military service. “We help vets discover their personal mission and passion and what they’re naturally suited for. We built that one from scratch,” said Mike Dobbs, President and CEO of Camp Southern Ground.

This month, Veteran Family Camp is lighting up CSG. Military families can face a multitude of challenges from their time in service, experiences that can challenge even the strongest of families. Strengthening the family unit is crucial. Veteran Family Camp, a three-day, all-inclusive weekend of fun, food, communication and connection, helps provide veteran families with the tools and support they need to be the best they can be.

“Since Zac Brown was already a national brand,” said Dobbs, “we spent our initial years building the operations with a national focus. That has allowed us to get the programs set up and rolled out. We are now better equipped to serve locally.” This summer, they also rolled out water safety training for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and are planning more community family events.

One of the slogans at Camp Southern Ground is #normalisoverrated and Zac Brown’s heart for veterans and those who are not considered “normal” is worn on his sleeve. In a recent interview, Zac said, “Ignorance is such a tragedy because some never get to be around other kinds of people. When you can immerse someone into all of that variety of culture and ethnicity and background, they come out not being afraid of [differences]. We can help change a child’s life in one week of camp. They never look at the world the same again.”

To learn more about Camp Southern Ground and how to support the mission, please visit or email