Editor’s note: We’re breaking in before the hijinks begin to let you know that the fungus photos above were taken  on the Camp Fletcher nature trail last week by our VISTA volunteers Kayleigh Funderburk and Hank Henley. Our woods really do contain a gorgeous display of mushrooms this time of year.

From: Camp Fletcher Management
To: Camp Dining Division
Re: Soup 

Dear Chef Wolfgang, 

Congratulations. The lasagna you served at lunch today was delicious. It could have used a bit less pepper and a touch more basil, though.

I saw your proposed menu for next week, and this is getting ridiculous. I am asking—no, make that ordering—you to remove cream of mushroom soup from next week’s menu. Also, please remove the stuffed mushrooms, mushroom risotto, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, and mushroom tacos from next week’s offerings. From now on, you are not to serve any dishes in the Camp Fletcher kitchen that have even the smallest hint of mushroom in them.

I don’t care if the campers have been begging you to prepare mushroom-based dishes because “mushrooms are Twinkle’s favorite food.” First of all, how would the children know what foods elves like to eat? Secondly, there is no such thing as a wood elf named Twinkle Loblolly living at Camp Fletcher, and we shouldn’t be confusing our campers on this point by indulging their elf-related requests.

Thanks for making the Camp Fletcher dining hall a mushroom-free environment.

Have a nice day!

Camp Management


Hi there from Camp Fletcher,

Q: What do mushrooms eat around the campfire at Camp Fletcher?

A: S’pores!

Get it? s’pores, not s’mores.  That’s a little elvish fungus humor for you.

You’ll have to pardon me if I’m a little silly this week.  I can’t help myself because it’s mushroom time! It’s MUSHROOM TIME! Yippee, hooray and goody, goody, goody!

Mushroom time is always the absolute best, and this is a fantastic year for mushrooms. I’m simply giddy!

This is the time of year when you can find mushrooms growing everywhere at Camp Fletcher. The weather we’ve had this spring has been perfect for mushrooms, so we have lots and lots of them right now.  They are so bright and colorful.  We have white ones, brown ones, orange ones, red ones and even some that are kind of green and translucent. There’s even a kind of fungus in the woods called foxfire that glows in the dark.

The mushrooms in my forest come in all kinds of shapes too. Some of my mushrooms look like flowers, some of them look like fans, and some look like, well, like mushrooms.

I love mushrooms. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they are my favorite food of all time except maybe for Skittles. The problem with Skittles is they don’t grow wild in the woods like mushrooms, so I don’t get to eat them very often.

My belly is full of mushrooms, but I can’t stop eating them.  They’re so good.  I think I’m going to make a thick mushroom stew tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to have mushrooms and taters for lunch, stir fried mushrooms for lunch, a mushroom sandwich for supper, mushroom pie for dessert and raw mushrooms with ranch dressing all day long. Yum!

Kids, don’t eat any mushrooms you find in the woods. Humans should only eat mushrooms that come from the store. Some kinds of wild mushrooms are poisonous to people and can make you very sick if you can’t tell the safe kind from the poisonous kind.  Elves, especially wood elves like me, can eat any kind of mushrooms they find, of course.  Being able to eat any kind of mushroom I stumble across is one of the very best things about being an elf. To me, they’re all delicious.

Yippee, hooray and goody, goody, goody!  It’s mushroom time!

I’m fungally yours and your faithful friend,

Twinkle Loblolly
Camp Elf

If you have a question for Twinkle or just want to say hi, he’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail Camp Fletcher’s very own elf at twinkle@campfire-al.org.

Education garden

Now that the sun is shining again, our crack blog photo department is at Camp Fletcher today taking pictures of campers and counselors having fun in the sun.  While we’re waiting for for those rolls of film to be developed at the photo shop, here’s a nice picture from our new and improved education garden at Camp Fletcher.


I believe

From: Lauren
Sent: Monday, June 5, 2017 1:30 PM
To: twinkle@campfire-al.org
Subject: I Believe

Dear Twinkle,

I just want to say, the adults at Camp Fletcher may not believe in you but the Campers sure do. I know my sister, brothers, and I do. But I have a question. Doesn’t it bother you when people don’t believe in you? Can’t you show people that you exist so that they’ll believe? I wish more people knew that magical creatures existed.

Much love (and always believing),

From: Twinkle
Sent: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 12:09 PM
To: Lauren
Subject: re: I Believe


Thank you so much for your sweet e-mail. It’s so nice to hear from one of my camper friends.

You asked me a question that I think about a lot. I’ve even asked my animal friends what I should do, and they can’t agree on the answer.  Mr. Hawk thinks I should join in the fun at Camp Fletcher like any other camper.  He thinks I should be with you in the mornings, singing camp songs, playing games with you on the field and canoeing down Shades Creek with you. But Mr. Hawk is a showoff.  He likes to fly high and proud for anyone to see, and he’ll even screech at you if he thinks he’s not getting enough attention.

Miss Bobcat has the exact opposite opinion. She’s super shy, and the people at Camp Fletcher hardly ever see her. When the camp is full of campers, Miss Bobcat goes deep into the woods to hide.  She says I would be crazy to let people know I really exist. She says people would try to trap me if they knew I was real, so they could put me in a zoo or study me in a laboratory.  I’ve been living at Camp Fletcher for 91 years, and I still haven’t made up my mind yet about this.

p1422374974-3It makes me very happy to know that you believe in me and that your sister and brothers do too (please say hi to them for me). But, Lauren, it doesn’t matter so much if you believe in me. What really matters is that you believe in Lauren. If you believe in yourself with all your heart, you will be able to do great things in life. I hope your school and Camp Fletcher are helping you to learn all about how powerful you really are inside. You can accomplish fantastic things by believing in yourself and becoming the best Lauren you can be.

Keep looking for me, Lauren, and you might see me–if only out of the corner of your eye.

With love and friendship,

Twinkle Loblolly
Camp Elf

Whether you’re like Lauren and have a question for Twinkle or you just want to say hi, Camp Fletcher’s very own elf would love to hear from you. You can e-mail Twinkle at twinkle@campfire-al.org.


Garden Party

VISTA garden specialist Corri Marteny makes a sale at the Bessemer Farmer’s Market

We held a little garden party at Camp Fletcher, but this garden party was light on the tea, scones, and cucumber sandwiches and heavy on the manual labor.

Squash whisperer and VISTA volunteer Kayleigh Funderburk is all smiles at our garden party

About a dozen of Camp Fire Alabama’s staff along with our AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteers showed up at the camp garden on Friday, to hoe, pull weeds, put in more plants and generally spruce up the place under the direction of our VISTA garden specialist Corri Marteny.

Our garden party attendees were a tired, dirty, sweaty mess by day’s end, but there was a whole lot of happy laughter ringing out between the rows all day long.

Camp Fletcher has two gardens.  There’s a small education garden filled with flowers, herbs and vegetable plants. We use this garden to teach young campers and school field trip participants about where their food comes from. Education garden activities are based on a curriculum developed by members of our VISTA team.

Camp Fire Alabama executive director Nancy Meadows clears weeds from the Camp Fletcher Garden

Then there’s the larger production garden that we use to raise produce we’re selling twice a week at the Bessemer Farmer’s Market. Proceeds from the garden will be used to expand our garden programming.

Thursday was opening day for the farmer’s market, and we sold out our first harvest of yellow squash and cucumbers.  Another bounty of squash and cukes will be on offer at today’s market. We also have okra, peppers, beans, watermelons and tomatoes in the ground, and they will be available for sale at the market as soon as they’re ready.

In the next few weeks, garden specialist Corri will be upgrading our composting program. She will be turning uneaten food at Camp Fletcher’s dining hall into rich soil. Turning food waste into black gold is a kind of natural alchemy, but it’s just the start. Corri is also planning to incorporate vermiculture (a fancy word for using worms to help in the composting process) into our gardening bag of tricks.

So look for us at the farmer’s market in Bessemer on Mondays and Thursdays (see their site for locations and times), and buy some delicious veggies fresh picked from Camp Fletcher’s garden. We’ve given our yellow squash a trial run and we promise it makes an amazing casserole. If you want our recipe, just ask.

Camp Fire staffers and VISTA volunteers getting down and dirty in the garden






A visit from Trail Life

Trail Life scouts work through a team-building puzzle exercise.

Even Saturday’s torrential rainfall, couldn’t dampen the enthusiastic activity happening all over Camp Fletcher over the past weekend.

Our summer camp programming begins in a week, and our new crop of counselors were on the grounds getting trained and getting excited about a busy summer ahead.  (much more about those amazing  counselors in a future post).

A present left behind by the Trail Life troop.

While counselor training was taking place on one side of the camp, two dozen Trail Life scouts and scoutmasters were camping out elsewhere on the 300 acres that make up Camp Fletcher. Trail Life Troop AL-1, based out of Evangel Church in Alabaster, had a fun and rewarding stay with us, despite the rain.

In addition to hiking and working on their badges, the scouts lived up to their organization’s name. The troop spent a morning adding to the camp’s network of trails. The young men and boys (with help from some of their dads) beautifully restored  an old trail that had fallen into disrepair and blazed a new trail up a ridge line deep into the forest.

The scouts also spent time on team building exercises and the kinds of woodsy adventures and evening hijinks that scouts like to have. The Trail Life troop left Camp Fletcher better than they found it, and it was an absolute pleasure for us to host them on a damp weekend.