Happy Acres Ranch was founded by Marion Scarborough in 1953 and continues to be family owned and operated. Today, Ms. Scarborough’s grandchildren proudly own and operate the ranch.
The property consists of 10 acres extending from Crane Avenue to Silversmith Creek. The camp has been accredited by the American Camp Association since 1966. In 1973, Happy Acres Ranch was incorporated. The original property which Happy Acres Ranch now stands was part of a large land grant from the King of Spain and was given to a solider named John Richard. At one time, a narrow gauge railroad ran along the western edge of the property where the tennis court, art shelter, maintenance shed and barn now sit. Handmade spikes and cross ties can still be found buried on the property. In the early 1900’s, a brick factory with two giant kilns was built near the present site between the art shelter and the barn. The clay for the bricks was dug from what is now our lake. The brick factory changed owners several times. The bricks were shipped down Silversmith Creek to the St. Johns River. The last barge was so heavy that it sunk in the creek. Summer campers routinely find these century old bricks in the woods.
After World War I, some friends of Judge Holmes established a hunting and fishing camp and built the lake house as a summer home. On the floor of the lake house, you can still see the word “Fredith”, which means lake. A developer, Mr. Ripley, purchased the property to make a subdivision of 22 homes, however Ms. Scarborough persuaded him to sell her the land to establish a children’s camp in the city.
When she first moved in, the property consisted of a small two-story concrete block building with a small front porch and a large back patio as well as the lake house. You can still see the outline of the original building if you look hard enough. From the outside, the highest peaked roof is the building.
Many of the older buildings have been preserved and are still in use today. Shortly after moving in, Ms. Scarborough hauled an old WWII G.I. home from the FSCJ Kent Campus to Happy Acres Ranch. This building is now the back of one of the classrooms. Many of the original buildings have been converted into themed preschool rooms. Children now have the opportunity to play and learn in the Dramatic Play Room, Emergent Literacy Room, Blocks Room, and Cooking Room.
Since our complex story of development, Happy Acres Ranch has grown to be one of the best child care centers in Jacksonville.
Currently, we enroll an average of 250 children between our preschool and summer camp programs combined. Our objective is to provide quality child care in a relaxed environment with an emphasis on child development.
Since 2009, all areas of our Infant, Preschool and School Age programs have been accredited by Apple (Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment) through the Florida Association of Child Care management. This national standards-based and rigorous program makes Happy Acres eligible as a Gold Seal Center under Florida Statute.
Continually since 1966, Happy Acres Ranch’s Summer Camp has been accredited by the American Camp Association, recognized as the leading national association for summer camps.
ACA accredits over 2,400 camps and ACA-Accredited camps are required to meet up to 300 standards for health, safety, and program quality with re-inspections every three years. Happy Acres is proud to be one of only two ACA accredited camps in the Jacksonville area.
Covered in beautiful, ancient live-oak trees and bordering the ecologically sensitive Silversmith Creek, Happy Acres Ranch sits on 10 beautiful wooded acres in the Holiday Hill – Glynlea neighborhood in the Southside area of Jacksonville. Our property and buildings create a relaxed, country atmosphere that is centrally located in the heart of the urban area we serve.