• Our mission is simple.  To change lives, no matter one’s financial or social status, through inspiring hope, and reflecting the Love of God.

  • Our vision is for every child, regardless of their present circumstance, to achieve a sense of well being Physically, emotionally, academically, and spiritually.

  • Our focus is on: Mind Body & Soul

  • Nonprofit, Faith-Based

Through the generous financial support of our partners and members, Game Changers is a program dedicated to seeing that every child, no matter their financial or social background, has a chance to create a bright future. We offer families that qualify for the free- or reduced-lunch program scholarships to our Game Changers and Summer Adventure Camp. These scholarships are made possible by redirecting a portion of fees we receive from memberships, facilities rental and fees. Game Changers also applies donations specifically targeted for scholarships to help serve as many families as possible.


Steve Ware

Steve Ware founded River’s Edge Retreat in 2010.  He is the CEO of AA Holding Co, LLC.  He is the past president of Ware House of Cars, Inc.  Ware We Customize, LLC, CSI Investments and Caliente Clothing Stores. He has been a partner in Young Development Group, Dynamic Properties, LLC and Carolina Mortgage Group.  Presently he is the managing partner in PAAK Jr.  He is the proud father of 4 daughters and 1 son. 

Tara Butler
Vice Chairwoman

Tara is currently the Provider Relations Representative at Palmetto GBA. She has been actively involved in River’s Edge Retreat and is currently serving as the Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Directors.  Tara has a passion for the mission of the Retreat and believes in the service it renders to homeless and disadvantaged children.  She is active in her community and her church.  She is a busy mom of sons who keep her going. 

George Hazin

George is a Graduate of Emmanuel College and Oklahoma City Southwestern College. He has served as an Evangelist, Bible College teacher, and Pastor. He has worked for the State of South Carolina for the past 25 years. He is currently employed as a Program Manager at the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority.

Jim Petty

Jim is currently serving as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors for River’s Edge Retreat. Experienced Professional Sales Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the Automotive, Real Estate and oil & energy industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Sales, Foreclosures and Management. Strong sales and management background.  He is working as a Professional Consultant at Quality Chrysler-Doge-Ram in Greenwood, SC.

Fred Kennedy

Fredrick Kennedy, has been married for 40 years to Jan Kennedy and is the father of 3 girls. He graduated from Georgia Southern, and then received his law degree from Atlanta Law School. Frederick has served as an attorney in North Augusta for 40 years.

Kathy Ware

Kathy is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. She captained a coed cheerleading squad that finished 4th in the nation. She currently teaches first grade at Harbison West Elementary school where she was awarded rookie teacher of the year in 2008.



Located on 6+ acres along the Saluda River in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina, the River’s Edge Retreat center is the ideal location in the Midlands for your next retreat, conference, seminar or camping trip. You will find us 1½ miles off of I-20 on Bush River Rd.



Formerly the Gardendale Tennis and Swim Club

River’s Edge Retreat was the former home of the Gardendale Tennis and Swim Club. Mr. Ware purchased the facility in 2008 and spent the next two years renovating the property, seeking rezoning and reopened the facility in 2010 as a nonprofit summer camp. The initial summer camp program was made possible with assistance from Dr. Brad Smith, professor for the University of South Carolina. Dr. Smith is the Director of Challenge Horizons, an award winning after school program. This initial camp had just 9 kids attend each week. In 2012, over 5,000 kids participated in the various events, programs and activities held at River’s Edge Retreat.

 The Learning Center (The Castle)

Sometime in the 70s, the WIS radio station moved from their home located at “1 WIS Lane” a facility located just off Bush River Road, to their current location located in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. The street was renamed to “Radio Lane” some years later and the station was sold to Clear Channel radio. The radio station at this location sit on pilings like a beach hours since it’s location in the flood plain adjacent to the Saluda River.

 The Clear Channel management team, especially General Manager Ron Hill, have been instrumental in assisting River’s Edge Retreat in providing an academic learning center for the youth of South Carolina.

Today, other than housing storage for Clear Channel’s engineering equipment, the facility is leased by River’s Edge Retreat and is known as The Castle.  The Castle is equipped with games and multiple academic classrooms, an ideal facility for the retreat center’s after school and summer camp programs. Outside groups and churches use this facility for retreats and conferences as well as for breakout sessions and study groups.


Our Mission is to change lives, no matter one’s financial or social status, through inspiring hope and reflecting the love of God. It doesn’t take much to change a life, Get in touch today and start making the difference.