Sep 06, 2019
Nancy Mance
Camp Rio (Misty Martin)

Our Story

Camp RIO at Historic Lula Sams sits on approximately 85 acres of predominantly untouched wildlife preserve. The land was originally developed as a girl scout camp and was gifted to the community by the Earl C. Sams Foundation in 1953. It served many girl scouts until the 1990s.

The property is filled with various native plants and animals that in most places in the Valley have long been eradicated by urbanization. IDEA Public Schools, in coordination with the Valley Land Fund, is working to preserve this unique piece of land so that generations to come may enjoy it in its natural form.

Our Future

IDEA is committed to refurbishing and renovating the site to ensure it can provide state-of-the-art facilities, activities and environmental and science learning curricula for students. 

Over the next few years, IDEA will work to earn the support of the community, individuals, businesses, and organizations to fund several renovations to the site, including the development of a world-class archery range, an outdoor pavilion, refurbishing the pool, and building a fishing pond that will afford students hands-on knowledge and experience in conservation and fishing.

Thanks to the previous landowners, Dr. Pat Burchfield, and Carol DeMoss, the local wildlife has flourished under their stewardship of the native plants and animals.  IDEA Public Schools has hired a biologist on staff to cultivate the land with more native plants, actively reintroduce and manage the native animals and plants, and document the project every step of the way.  

The ultimate goal of IDEA Camp RIO is to teach students how people interact, co-exist, and thrive alongside native plants and wildlife.  Fishing, canoeing, building campfires, hiking, archery, photography, and more will help connect students and the community to the wonders of nature in the Valley.