In the mid-1990’s, a group of people who had been traveling to North Florida Tres Dias and a variety of communities in Georgia and Connecticut to attend and serve Tres Dias weekends decided to pool together and help create a new Tres Dias community in the Tampa Bay area. They began meeting together to make plans and set it into motion. In April 1998, the Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Florida Department of State, and Tampa Bay Tres Dias, Inc. was created.
The first chairman of TBTD was Gary Bratton, of St. Petersburg, and weekend # 1 was held in the fall of 1998 at Lake Aurora Campground in Lake Wales, FL. Most of the team was comprised of people who lived in Tallahassee, Tennessee, and Georgia, with many of the people listed below participating. For the first four weekends for TBTD women, and five for the men, the Rectors had previously served as Rectors in other communities, and the team meetings were held in Gainesville, FL. Attendance at ALL team meetings was required, and the commitment was taken very seriously.
The first three sets of weekends were held at Lake Aurora Campground, and candidates were taken by their sponsors to the University Church of God on I-275 in Tampa, where they were given a “send-off” (complete with people singing “De Colores” to them very soon after arrival. Once their bedding and luggage were properly tagged, bagged (in black garbage bags), and loaded into a U-Haul trailer, the candidates were escorted to a waiting Greyhound bus, which transported them over three hours away, into the heart of the state (and the great unknown)!
In the year 2000, a committee of people, headed by Denise McDaniel, who had been searching for a new campground to call “home” for TBTD, discovered the Church of God of Prophecy Campground in Brooksville and were very pleased with what they found. Weekend # 4 was held at that campground, in spite of the fact that we had to create a “chapel” each weekend from the rustic pavilion with screened ‘walls’, and the dining room had old terrazzo floors. Much work was needed for set up and take down in the early years, as all supplies were stored in a rental unit on Busch Blvd and I-275 in Tampa, and men & women had to drive to the facility, load up the supplies, (including make-shift walls for the Chapel), and deliver them to the campground and then set up. Set up was made a little easier with the purchase of an old semi-trailer, which the campground allowed us to store at the facility.
Once the weekends were held more local to “the Tampa Bay area,” the “send-off” became a “send-over”, from the Rollo Room to the Dining Hall. Eventually, the welcoming song was changed to something ‘softer’ than De Colores, and the roosters and babe chicks were saved for the Reception. Many changes have occurred since the beginning of this community, including several improvements to the campground over the years, from tiling the floor in the Dining Hall to adding a permanent building for Chapel. A group of dedicated people, headed by Danny Mendel, worked to build what is currently referred to as “our Chapel.” The funds were donated by a few families in the TBTD community, anonymously.
Beginning with weekend # 5 for the women, and # 6 for the men, the Rectors were people who lived in the Tampa Bay area, and the teams’ composition was primarily local Pescadores, with a few people who still drove down from Tallahassee, Tennessee, and Georgia to serve. Team meetings were held more locally and tried to respect the driving distances for everyone. This became increasingly more difficult as the community grew to have people who served regularly stretching from one coast of Florida to the next. We also developed the great “problem” of having too many people wanting to attend as candidates, and the waiting list grew too long. So, in 2002-03, Tampa Bay Tres Dias committed to creating a new community, Central Florida Tres Dias, and in the year 2003, TBTD held three (3) weekends. (One in February, one in April, and one in October.), which is why the odd # ‘d weekends changed from fall to spring.
Central Florida Tres Dias held their first weekend at the Brooksville campground and then moved to another campground in Lake Wales for # 2 and beyond. TBTD made the same commitment to CFTD that NFTD had made to the inception of TBTD. We provided the Rectors for the first three (3) weekends, and most of the team members did not live in the Central FL area, but drove to team meetings and weekends in Lake Wales.
At the same time, TBTD was also in the process of creating a local chapter of the Vida Nueva, which is a similar community for teenagers 15-20 years old. Vida Nueva Tampa Bay (VNTB) was created and held their first weekend in the fall of 2003 at the same campground. They are a thriving community and currently planning weekend # 26. We share a lot of equipment and supplies as well as team members from TBTD serving on VNTB weekends. Starting with # 4, the Rectors and majority of the team members lived in the “central FL” area.