The Camp




Jim Swann had a vision, the world’s first “Resort Home”, and purchased two old structures from the City of Cocoa. In the Summer of 1980, the City of Cocoa was conducting some urban renewal work that included, among other activities, the demolition of structures, which were deemed unsuitable for human habitation. Undaunted by the lack of a few conveniences (plumbing, electrical service, leaking roof, structural questions, etc.,) and ever mindful of spending his father’s money, Jim went ahead with the purchase. The total cost was $400. “After all”, he reasoned, “it will be an efficient purchase, especially when I get Jim Conley, Bill Tanner, and Lynn Hansel to work on repairs during evenings and weekends!”


TGO Nature Center, nature, camp, old

“The Camp” Front View


Soon thereafter, the Swann’s first child was born, though not in the cabin, as Jim would have preferred. That good news spurred on Conley, Tanner, and Hansel, who now had to busy themselves with no help from Swann, where at least before Lizzie (Elizabeth), he had contributed a little.


TGO Nature Center, nature, old, camp

“The Camp” Back View


An old cistern provided the first water supply, and its eventual demise contributed to Jack Shearer’s first visit out here. We all pitched in to run a 2-inch water line from Windover Farms under the I-95 bridge across the Addison Canal (Hansel swears he got permits for everything, but no one has ever seen them) and ol’ Jack suffered mightily from the heat as he tried to keep up with us “kids”.


TGO Nature Center, nature, old, camp

“The Camp” Left View


A wood burning stove, the only heat in the ramshackle office trailer used by Tanner and Hansel at Windover Farms, 12 volt lights from our cars and trucks, and that water from Windover Farms — these were the civilized trappings of “The Camp”.


Old Camp Right View

“The Camp” Right View


Mr. Eckerd used to hunt ducks on opening day — traditionally the day before Thanksgiving in Florida. Then he and Jim would rush to Clearwater that afternoon in order to be home for the first of the holidays. Mr. Eckerd’s guests at “The Camp” were numerous and famous, but seemed most to enjoy being out of the public eye and amongst those who sometimes had little reverence for those with loftier positions outside the fences. Four or five children have grown to adulthood — or nearly — “out here” and although none will probably ever visit the camp again, whenever they return home from their lives, they all want to come see it — one more time.

Please Continue to “The History of the Old Nature Centerfor more history on our TGO Nature Center.


TGO Nature Center – “Living in Harmony with Nature

Contact Us

To reserve the meeting room, contact:

Josiah Monk at Recreation Services for reservations on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Loretta Anne’ for all other times.