The best summer camps for your kids

15 May 2015 · Bellator Blogger

summer camps for kids

Are you looking for something fun for your kids to do this summer? If so, the Gulf Coast region has you covered. Here’s a look at just a few of the great summer camp options the region has to offer this summer.

Peninsula’s Junior Camps

The Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club is offering its Peninsula’s Summer Camps this year. Each camp session offers a week of golf and tennis instruction as well as daily swimming and water games. All participants also receive lunch at Peninsula Grill each day.

Camp dates are June 1-5, June 15-19 and July 6-10. All sessions run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday and are open to boys and girls ages 6 through 12. The cost to participate for one week is $225, while two weeks is $400 and three weeks is $550. While loaner clubs and racquets are available on a limited basis, participants are asked to bring clubs, racquets, swim wear and a towel each day.

Youth Summer SCUBA Camp

The Down Under Dive Shop will be offering several SCUBA camps this summer. Sessions will take place June 2-4, June 7-9, July 14-16, July 28-30 and August 10-11. Two sessions will be offered on each of these days, with one being from 8:30 am to 11:30 am and the other being from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Each session will also have a snorkel trip take place on the Wednesday that falls during or immediately after the session, with the trip taking place at 8:00 am. Parents are welcome to attend the snorkel trip at a cost of $35 per parent.

The Youth Summer SCUBA camp costs $275 per participant and takes place at the Orange Beach Aquatic Center. All materials and equipment are provided for participants, including a completion certificate, activity book, log book, Seal Team decal and badge, mask, snorkel, fins, tank, BC and regulator. Participants also have the option to purchase a mask, snorkel and fin package at reduced cost from the Down Under Dive Shop.

Kidcam Summer Camp

Kidcam Summer Camp will be offered from June 1 through July 31 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm each day at Gulf State Park campground. Activities during the camp include beach excursions, hiking, bird watching, water sports, swimming, fishing, golf, tennis, basketball, beach volleyball, bike riding, geocaching, indoor games and arts & crafts.

The cost of participating in the Kidcam Summer Camp is $50 per day or $135 per week. All participants receive a free t-shirt. The camp is open to boys and girls ages 6 through 13. Before and after care is also available, as are sibling discounts.

Youth Summer Sail Camp

The Wind and Water Learning Session is offering several Youth Summer Sail Camp sessions. These include a Level 1 Beginner Sail Camp for participants aged 7 through 13, a Level 2 Intermediate Sail Camp for participants aged 7 through 14 and a Level 3 Advanced Sail Camp for participants aged 8 through 14. At Level 1, participants learn water safety, steering, knot tying, capsize recovery, tracking & jibing and proper sail trim. At Level 2, they learn upwind sailing as well as boat handling, while Level 3 participants learn to solo a boat.

Camp sizes are kept small, so spaces are filling up quickly. Each camp costs $120 for Orange Beach property owners or $140 for non-owners.

National Flight Academy

The National Flight Academy is offering several camps throughout the summer for various age groups. The 6-day, 5-night sessions focus on science, technology, engineering and math as participants put their problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills to task. The cost for the adventure is $1,250 with scholarships available to help defer the cost.

Legendary Flora-Bama Lounge plans Alabama Gulf Coast Events

1 May 2015 · Bellator Blogger

Alabama Gulf Coast Events

Established in 1962, the Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar straddles the line between Florida and Alabama, and situates itself partly on our Alabama Gulf Coast. Though it primarily serves two southern states, it has received national recognition. Not only has it been featured in numerous magazines such as Delta Sky Magazine, Outside Magazine, USA Today and many others, it has also received top honors in quite a few “Best of” lists.

Despite being known for its fun, bar atmosphere, Flora-Bama is also a popular spot for families to grab some of the freshest, tastiest local seafood during the day. While it stays open from 11:00 am to 3:00 am, the Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar is kid-friendly until 6:00 pm. The Flora-Bama Yacht Club, which features live music, is kid-friendly all the time and offers casual flip-flop dining – perfect for a meal after a long day at the beach. Flora-Bama is also known for offering tons of popular activities on the Gulf Coast beaches throughout the year. Here are a few of the upcoming events taking place at the popular hangout:

June 5th-7th: Shindig on the Sand

The third annual Shindig on the Sand is a three-day beach concert featuring more than 200 musicians and 70 musical acts. While a complete list of this year’s acts is yet to be announced, past acts have included Billy Currington, the Mulligan Brothers, Taylor Hicks, Banana Republic, Cornbread and too many others to name. While ticket prices have not yet been announced, they were only $40 a person last year – granting you access to all Flora-Bama stages and acts for the full three-day weekend.

June 11th-14th: Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo

The Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo will follow right after the much-anticipated Shindig on the Sand. Billed as “The ‘Funnest’ Fishing Tournament on the Gulf Coast,” the inaugural Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo will boast a number of different categories and divisions, making it possible for people of any age and skill level to participate.

Within the kid’s division, which costs $20 per participant, there will be 10 categories with 1st through 3rd place prizes, as well as a Top Junior Angler award. The adult’s division, which costs $40 per participant, will include 26 categories with 1st through 3rd place prizes and a Lady Angler and Master Angler award. The Competitive Angler Divisions will cost $100 per speckled trout angler and $500 for each boat fishing for king mackerel. Both divisions will have a $1,000 3rd place prize, a $2,000 2nd place prize and a $7,000 1st place prize. The event will also feature an Offshore Slam of tuna, dolphin and wahoo at a cost of $1,000 per boat. In all, the event guarantees more than $160,000 in prizes and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Foundation. For more information about rules and prizes, visit the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo website.

For those who aren’t interested in fishing but still want to join in on the fun, the tournament will be paired with a three-day beach party ending in the awards ceremony. The event will include daily weigh-ins, a fish viewing area, live music and, of course, seafood!

Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar is located at 17401 Perdido Key Drive in Pensacola, Florida. For more information about the bar and its events, call (850) 492-0611.

Daphne, AL Golf Tournament to benefit two charitable causes

24 Apr 2015 · Anna Phillips

Last year, the Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial and Children’s & Women’s Hospital Golf Classic raised over $46,000 for two worthy charitable causes. These generous AL Gulf Coast Golf Tournament donations pushed Bellator’s CEO’s Fallen Heroes Memorial project fund above $200,000 in contributions raised thus far – through car shows, donors, a concert and the annual Golf Classic. Furthermore, the money raised allows the Children’s & Women’s Hospital to continue growing, improving and positively impacting families for years to come.

This year, the golf tournament event is scheduled for April 30th from 11:00 am – 5:30 pm at the TimberCreek Golf Course in Daphne, AL and will feature everything from a live band to golf tournament contests to an outdoor bar and more. All participant and sponsorship costs go towards the Fallen Heroes Memorial fund and the Children’s & Women’s Hospital, with all proceeds being divided equally between the two. In addition to supporting a great cause, there will be tons of entertainment throughout the day, and a prize drawing at the end of the day to win a 3-night stay Turquoise Palace in Orange Beach, valued at $1,800, donated by Spectrum Resorts. The prize winner will be drawn from a jar containing all the winners of the contest games throughout the day.

Additionally, FOUR more lucky winners will each receive a stay at a Gulf Coast condo courtesy of Pointe South Vacation Rentals! Two of the recipients will each receive a 3-night stay, and the other two will each receive a two-night stay.

This event began five years ago and was coined by Nathan Cox, CEO of Bellator Real Estate & Development and the mind behind the Fallen Heroes Memorial, and his wife, Kimberly Cox, a member of the Children’s & Women’s Hospital Development council. The purpose of the event was to combine two great charitable causes into one event, bring the community together and raise money for the causes. The Fallen Heroes Memorial was designed to honor those who have passed in the War on Terror since 9/11, with a special feature on the memorial honoring those with Alabama ties. The Children’s & Women’s Hospital provides a wide range of services to both children and women, and the board members are passionate about making a difference in families and children’s futures.

For those wishing to make a donation or learn more about the Golf Tournament contact Cox at

Fallen Heroes Memorial Dedication set for September 11, 2015

10 Apr 2015 · Bellator Blogger

Since 2007, our very own Nathan Cox, CEO of Bellator Real Estate & Development, has been planning the design and implementation of the Fallen Heroes Memorial, to be dedicated at the USS Alabama Battleship Park on September 11, 2015.

After having served in our Marine Corps and facing numerous losses of friends, Cox knew the War on Terror Memorial was the route to take in order to honor those who have lost their lives. He explained, “[It’s] truly something you never forget. That sums up what service is all about, especially serving in a combat zone.” The memorial will be designed to honor all of Memorial Day Cemetery those who sacrificed their lives in the War on Terror, with one section giving recognition for those specifically with strong ties to Alabama.

The memorial will stand eight feet tall and will be surrounded by six relief plates, with the front plate honoring those with connections to Alabama. The remaining five plates will include a man or woman in dress uniform of each branch of the service. Additionally, there will be two slabs representing the two World Trade Towers, with one detailing September 11th and the other about the War on Terror.

While close to $250,000 has already been raised to put towards this memorial project, Cox estimates that it could reach around $500,000. April 30th will be the 5th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Children’s and Women’s Hospital Golf Tournament at TimberCreek Golf Club, to further support fundraising efforts. For those wishing to make a donation or learn more about the Golf Tournament contact Cox at


Fort Gaines Annual Colonies of the Gulf Coast event on Dauphin Island

2 Feb 2015 · Virtual Results

Fort Gaines Annual Colonies of the Gulf Coast

Fort Gaines will be hosting a special family-style event on Saturday, March 7th. Billed as the “25th Annual Colonies of the Gulf Coast”, the event gives visitors the opportunity to explore life on “Isle Dauphine” as it was during the 1700 through 1800s.

Focusing on the lives of French, British and Spanish soldiers, the Colonies of the Gulf Coast event will feature live actors dressed in period uniforms as they go through drills and fire cannons. During the event, visitors will also have the opportunity to watch an authentic Blacksmith live at work. The event will also host a Pirates show for visitors to enjoy.

Even if you can’t visit Fort Gaines during this special event, it’s still well worth taking a trip to explore the site. Established in 1821, the fort played an integral role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. Furthermore, many historians consider it to be one of the best-preserved Civil War era masonry forts in the country. In addition to exploring the fort, you can also explore several other historic buildings – five pre-Civil Ear brick buildings, an operational blacksmith shop, operational kitchens and even a tunnel system that leads to the fortified corner bastions. There are also many artifacts and exhibits on display throughout the grounds – one being an anchor from the USS Hartford, which was commanded by Admiral David Farragut. You might recognize his name as the one who coined the famous phrase “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!” The original cannons used during the Battle of Mobile Bay are also on display.

In addition to exploring the rich history of the area, visiting Fort Gaines will also give you ample opportunity to take in the scenic beauty of the Dauphin Island shoreline. While at the fort, you can look out at panoramic views of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. There are also public beaches, parks, trails and opportunities for wildlife watching, boating and kayaking.

Unfortunately, this historic structure is at risk. With its location just several feet away from the Gulf of Mexico, the fort has sustained significant damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. It is also threatened by erosion, with ongoing losses of neighboring sand dunes and beach reaching up to 10 feet per year. Due to these threats, the fort was placed on the History Under Siege list compiled by the Civil War Preservation Trust. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has also placed the fort on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. With the fort under such threat of being lost, anyone interested in seeing the fort should be sure to visit it while it’s still possible.

To get to Fort Gaines, take Route 193 South all the way to Dauphin Island. After arriving on the island, turn left at the Water Tower in order to get on to Bienville Boulevard. The fort is located two miles down the road at the easternmost point on the island. Admission to the annual event is $6 per adult and $4 per child.

Mobile-Area Mardi Gras Celebrations Kick Off on January 17th

14 Jan 2015 · Bellator Blogger

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Mardi Gras celebrations officially kick off this year on January 17th with the first parade of the year being held in Dauphin Island. The Krewe de la Dauphine parade is only the start to what is a seemingly endless list of Mardi Gras parades and celebrations that will be leading up to the official big day of the event on February 17, 2015.

Although some people say New Orleans is home to Mardi Gras, history shows that it originated in Mobile, and that is just another reason as to why Mobile is such a unique and culturally rich city. The numerous celebrations range from high-class balls and elaborate parades taking place in and around Mobile, Alabama throughout January and February. According to legend, the celebrations began when a ship captain named Charles Kennerly tied cowbells to a rake and declared himself to be representative of the Cowbellion de  Rakin Society. From that point forward, Kennerly’s “secret society” continued to exist for the sole purpose of partying and throwing parades. Since that time, more secret societies have formed and have taken place in Mardi Gras celebrations. Today, more than 33 groups have parades in celebration of Mardi Gras throughout the Mobile area.

With so many different parades taking place throughout Mobile, it is unlikely that you will have any trouble finding one that you can enjoy. If you hope to get some of the stuff that is tossed out during the parade, you need to come prepared. Since a handful of the stuff does not make it past the barricade, seasoned parade-goers bring small plastic rakes to grab the tossed items and pull them in. If you are tempted to jump over the barricade to get the stuff, you might want to rethink the plan: if you are caught jumping the barricade by local police, you may receive a $172 ticket. Another popular item to bring – plastic bags or totes – so you have more than just two hands to carry everything you catch.

While parades are easy to attend, participating in one of the many Mardi Gras balls taking place throughout the area might be more difficult. Although some societies sell tickets to their balls, most are only open to members and their guests. As such, you will need to receive an invitation if you hope to attend one of these special events. If you are lucky enough to receive one of these invitations, your invite is likely to specify “costume de rigueur.” For women, this means you must wear a floor-length dress. For men, it means you must wear black tails with a white pique shirt, which is a shirt with waffle-textured fabric. You must also wear a white pique tie with white cufflinks and studs. If you fail to dress appropriately, you are likely to be turned away at the door.

Aside from the Krewe de la Dauphine parade, which kicks off at 1:00 pm on January 17th, several parades will also take place in Mobile. The earliest of these will take place on January 30th at 6:30 pm. Since times and dates of parades are subject to change, it is a good idea to check the parade schedule available on the Mobile Mask, which serves as the official site for all Mobile-area Mardi Gras information. You can also find more information about parade routes, secret societies and area balls on the website.

Firethorne Subdivision Coming to Fairhope

11 Jan 2015 · Bellator Blogger

firethorne logo Firethorne, soon-to-be 227-lot subdivision, will be located in heart of Fairhope, Alabama, which is arguably the most charming and quaint city in the state. Established right off of Highway 181 near Quail Creek Golf Course, Firethorne will be in close proximity to the Fairhope Intermediate and High Schools, local shops and restaurants, and is only about a ten minute drive (or bike ride, if that’s more your style) to the Fairhope Pier and Fairhope Avenue. The Pier is known as one of the best local spots for fishing and watching the sunsets and Fairhope Avenue is home to many locally-owned restaurants and boutiques. Some of the restaurants the area offers are Panini Pete’s, Heavenly Creations, Market by the Bay and many others. Also within close distance is the Fairhoper’s Community Park and the Public Library. firethorne

The subdivision will house custom homes, with Truland Homes building in the Greenbrier section. Nathan Cox, CEO of Bellator Real Estate & Development and representative of the buyers, states that investors paid $2.37 million for the planned subdivision, comprised of 126 acres. Homes are said to be priced ranging from $300,000 to $500,000, with resort style amenities that will include a clubhouse, pool and ponds.

Originally, “Firethorne” is derived from the name of a hole at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia, which was first named after the Firethorn bush. However, the name takes on a new meaning now, as it is one of the newest master planned communities featuring Truland Homes. In mid-2015 you can expect to see the homes going up for sale – stay tuned for more information as the builders begin the building process.

If interested in building a home in Firethorne, contact Dan Beasley, Sales & Marketing Manager for Truland Homes, at or 251-610-3032.

Bellator gives sizable donation to four local charities this holiday season

7 Jan 2015 · Bellator Blogger

Two months. Four charities. Six teams. Ten thousand dollars.

Bellator Real Estate & Development devised the idea to create a charity challenge in order to give back to the community and instill a greater drive within its agents. The result? An inaugural company-wide Listing Challenge for Charity comprised of six teams of Bellator agents from the three company divisions – Eastern Shore, Mobile and Coastal – and $10,000 to be donated to four local charities. Through two rounds of voting, agents selected the four charities Bellator would support this year: the Ronald McDonald House, Under His Wings, the Sheriff’s Boys Ranch and Wilmer Hall. In October, the teams began competing to gain the most listings and, furthermore, fulfill the role of allocating a percentage of the $10,000 to the charities. In mid-December, after two months of hard work, dedication and a total of 172 listed properties, the company staff held a luncheon with the charity representatives in attendance to accept their donations from Bellator President, Troy Wilson.


At the luncheon, Mary McAleer of the Ronald McDonald House, Angie Michal of Under His Wings, Jim Harmon of the Sheriff’s Boys Ranch and Shane Hale, one of our own agents, of Wilmer Hall, each spoke about their organization’s mission, history, operating budget and annual fundraising events. Each of the non-profit organizations has a distinguished mission dedicated to supporting local families and children throughout Baldwin and Mobile Counties.

The Ronald McDonald House of Mobile aims to provide support and a home for families with ill or injured children being treated at local hospitals. The charity’s home accommodates up to 38 families each night and has served over 5,300 families within the past 14 years. According to McAleer, the home is DSC_0384 located on the campus of USA Children’s and Women’s but is open to anyone being treated in the region. The homes are set up similar to a hotel in that they have double occupancy rooms with queen-sized beds, but all meals and entertainment are provided in family-style common areas. “As staff, we do what we can to make the families feel at home, but the most valuable aspect of the program is the support that families can provide to one another as they are all going through a similar experience. That dinnertime conversation between families is so crucial.”

In a similar light, Under His Wings strives to provide a Christian home for troubled young women to live in while receiving academic, physical, emotional and spiritual education. Their goal is to break negative, unhealthy cycles in the area and DSC_0375 within families, and to ultimately establish a more positive community and stronger family ties. Angie Michal, one of the founders of the program, said, “Our home currently cares for 5 young women—this may not sound like very many, but the impact our program makes on these women is going to carry through many generations. Our goal is to break the cycle that happens in these terrible situations and provide a brighter future for generations to come.” Under His Wings operates on an annual budget of less than $200,000 to care for these women, and it doesn’t accept any government funding.

The third charity selected, the Sheriff’s Boys Ranch, is sponsored by the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association and is dedicated to serving abused, neglected, homeless and DSC_0381 dependent children in the community that come from troubled situations. The ranches have housed over 3,000 children and have provided them with a Christian atmosphere and daily responsibilities to instill a sense of work ethic and responsibility. Harmon, the Ranch’s director and life-long supporter of the Alabama Sheriff’s Ranches, explained that the boys are raised in homes of 8-10 boys each, and they are supported physically, educationally and spiritually.

The final charity chosen was Wilmer Hall, whose mission is to provide long-term DSC_0379 homestay for children who are unable to reside with their parents, whether due to  abuse, neglect, poverty or homelessness. At Wilmer Hall they attend school, have a tutoring program, can participate in extracurricular activities and learn necessary life skills and values.

Overall, the challenge instilled competition and drive throughout each Bellator division. Along with company drive, the challenge allowed the company to give back to the community and assist local charities during the holiday season. In addition to providing financial support, the company has also pledged to provide manpower for the charities’ fundraising events throughout the upcoming year.

Snowbird Season Brings a Number of Events to Lower Alabama

5 Jan 2015 · Bellator Blogger


January is the month when many snowbirds begin to make their way to the Gul Landscape6 f Coast – and Lower Alabama is a popular destination. Not only does the area providea much-needed retreat from the cold that much of the country experiences during this time of the year, but Lower Alabama also offers many activities that are specifically geared toward those who wish to get away to a warmer climate.

For some, the unofficial start of “snowbird season” begins on the day of the Snowbird Fest. This year, the event takes place on January 10th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Orange Beach Event Center at the Wharf. As usual, the event will feature an extensive lineup of entertainment, but this year will include tribute shows honoring Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball. The festival will also include vendors, giveaways and exclusive deals on dining, golf, rentals and other forms of entertainment. To learn more about the free event, visit the Snowbird Fest website or call 1-800-270-2457.

A number of fun classes, events and activities will also be offered throughout the month to kick-off a new year and the snowbird season. Some of these include:

  • January 10th: Better Photos with Your Point and Shoot Camera at the Gulf Coast Arts Alliance Art Gallery. Classes are from 10:00 am to Noon and from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Cost is $25. Call 251-948-2627 for details.
  • January 12th and 19th: Beach Flight Aviation at the Orange Beach Welcome Center. The activity gives you the opportunity to fly over the beaches with a unique trike aircraft. In addition, an informational talk will take place from 10:00 am to noon. For more information, call 251-974-1510.
  • January 14th: Meet ceramic artist Steven Dark at the Gulf Shores Welcome Center. The meet and greet will take place from 10:00 am to Noon. Visit or call 251-968-7511 for more details.
  • January 14th: Learn more about Wild Hearts cruises at the Orange Beach Welcome Center from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Call 251-974-1510 for further information.
  • January 15th: Lecture from Gulf State Park Naturalist at Orange Beach Welcome Center at 10:00 am. Learn about sea turtles and shorebirds that are native to the region. Visit the Gulf State Park website or call 251-974-1510 for more information.
  • January 17th: “Post-Camera Production – After You Take the Picture, What’s Next?” talk at the Gulf Coast Arts Alliance Art Gallery. Learn how to produce professional-looking results from your photos. Classes from 10:00 am to Noon. Cost is $25. Call 251-948-2627 for details.
  • January 17th: Editing Digital Photographs with Adobe Photoshop session at the Gulf Coast Arts Alliance Art Gallery. Classes are from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Cost is $25. Call 251-948-2627 for details.
  • January 19th: Local Author Book Signing at the Orange Beach Welcome Center from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Call 251-974-1510 for further details.
  • January 20th: Baldwin County Heritage Museum lecture at the Gulf Shores Welcome Center, from 10:00 am to Noon, to learn more about the culture of the farm communities of early Baldwin County.
  • January 22nd and 29th (also on February 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th): Mini Scrapbooking Sessions at The Hangout from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. $20 per person, which covers the cost of craft AND lunch. Visit the Gigi Scrapbookin’ website or call 251-971-2005 for more information.

This list of events is just a small sampling of what Lower Alabama has to offer throughout the beginning of the year. Visit the Snowbird Events page of the Gulf Shores website to learn more about what is taking place throughout the area.