After sustaining significant damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018, St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach looked to restore and upgrade with several construction projects for facility and amenity improvements. This month, the park opened new primitive group camp facilities, made possible through a $60,000 grant from the St. Joe Community Foundation and partnership with the Florida State Parks Foundation.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, hundreds of trees were lost, along with many of the facilities needed to support important recreational activities. The rebuilt and updated group camp facility improvements include a new activities pavilion, restroom facilities, a fire circle and benches.

“The group campsite was used for organized youth camping, which engaged young people in hands-on nature experiences away from electronics and modern amenities, allowing them to connect with the environment,” said Tammy Gustafson, Florida State Parks Foundation President. “We are thrilled these improved facilities are back up and running, helping children to learn firsthand the importance of our natural resources in a fun and impactful way.”

The St. Joe Community Foundation’s mission is to enrich the quality of life of the people who live, work and play in Northwest Florida. Created in 1999, the Foundation provides grants toward education, environmental stewardship, building healthier communities, and programs that honor the cultural arts.

“Creating environmental stewards starts with active youth participation, and camping at this beautiful state park is a great way to set children on this path,” said April Wilkes, Executive Director of the St. Joe Community Foundation. “We are proud to have supported the efforts in reopening this important resource for our community and look forward to its continued enjoyment for years to come.”

St. Andrews State Park also recently opened a new playground at its lagoon picnic area. With many different features at the state park, visitors of all ages can enjoy beaches for fishing and swimming, opportunities for walking through pines and along dunes and coastal plant communities, and overnight stays with campground accommodations.

“Reopening the primitive campground is another example of how St. Andrews State Park continues to thrive and serve the community after Hurricane Michael,” said Chuck Hatcher, acting director of Florida State Parks. “Generations of young people have enjoyed this site, and our staff are excited to welcome the first visitors to experience our new facilities and amenities. Thank you to the Florida State Parks Foundation, the St. Joe Community Foundation and all of our partners who support St. Andrews State Park.”

The Florida State Parks Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy. The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests. This project was completed by the Florida State Parks Foundation Services LLC, which is a limited liability company affiliate of the Foundation.

About the Author: Foundation Staff