The Camp Fletcher Education Garden

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Peppers grown in the garden at Camp Fletcher

In 2014, we started developing a brand new component of our outdoor education program at Camp Fletcher. The Education Garden is a small teaching garden where campers and visitors will have the opportunity to learn about where food comes from, how it’s grown, and the importance of eating healthy food! We believe that access to and knowledge of healthy food is vitally important, and we want our campers to have the opportunity to learn about fresh produce and gardening. Our goal is to get kids interested in all aspects of gardening from science to math to healthy living.

Last summer, we grew peppers, watermelon and okra in the garden, and we cared for honey bee hives as well! This year, we are hard at work planning our garden and caring for the bees, and we plan to launch our education program during camp this summer! Campers will learn about plant life, soil, and a healthy diet and be able to assist with plant care and harvesting. This fall, we will offer garden field trips to local schools and home school groups, as well. We are so excited about the opportunity to teach kids about gardening, and to give them the chance to work in the garden and see where their food comes from.

We know the garden will be a great education resource for all the kids that spend time at Camp Fletcher, and we hope you’re excited, too! Gardening is a lot of work, and we are currently looking for volunteers to help in the garden. If you have some experience or interest in gardening and would like to help out, please contact Camp Fletcher at 205-428-1059 or by emailing campfletcher@campfire-al.org.

All of the produce grown this summer will be sold, and all proceeds will benefit garden programming. If you are interested in buying produce or honey from Camp Fletcher, check back soon for updates about where we will be selling!

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Counselor Spotlight: Clint!

Today we have another new face for you as we continue our counselor spotlight series! Out summer staff is coming together, and we are so excited to share another spotlight with you. We know these counselors are going to make this summer at Camp Fletcher great! Keep reading below to learn more about our newest addition to summer staff, Clint!

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Clint just joined our summer staff at Camp Fletcher, where he will spend his first summer as a counselor with us. Clint is 18 years old and is from Greenville, Alabama. He is a Public Health major and Spanish minor at UAB, where he is also an associate brother of the fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha and plays intramural soccer. We are so happy to have Clint join us for summer 2015 at Camp Fletcher!

What made you choose Camp Fletcher?
I chose Camp Fletcher because I wanted a different experience. I wanted to encourage the children to try their hardest and make something of themselves while having a good time. Everyone needs someone to look up to.

What are you most excited about for summer 2015 at Camp Fletcher?
I am most excited for this summer with Camp Fletcher because it has been so long since I have been to camp that I am thrilled to see what great memories lie ahead.

We are so excited to have Clint with us for summer 2015, and we know this will be a summer full of memories for all our staff and campers!

 If you are interested in working at Camp Fletcher this summer, visit us online today or check out our post about working at camp. Summer staff must be at least 18 years old and able to commit to the entire summer. Counselors are carefully chosen for their leadership skills and interest in child development. All staff members are required to have a criminal background check, a multi-panel drug test, and must participate in an extensive training program following the American Camping Association and Camp Fire’s policies and guidelines. If you would like to apply, click here for more information!

For more information about summers at Camp Fletcher, contact us today to find a program that’s right for you!

Camp Fletcher 101: A History Lesson

Our beautiful Camp Fletcher, situated outside Birmingham, Alabama on 300 wooded acres, has a vivid history that we work hard to keep alive. The story of Camp Fletcher is inspiring, and it plays a significant role in the history of Alabama, as well.

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Mrs. Pauline Bray Fletcher

Camp Fletcher was founded in 1926 by Pauline Fletcher as a convalescent camp for black women and children. Mrs. Fletcher was the first black registered nurse in the state of Alabama. Tuberculosis was common in Birmingham, and Fletcher wanted to create a place African American children could enjoy fresh air and nature. With $2,000, she bought the land where Camp Fletcher sits today and built six screened huts, a shower system, clean latrines and a dining hall. This is where Camp Fletcher began. Due to the hard work of Mrs. Fletcher, the camp was a success. Early supporters of the camp became the Youth Service League, which operated the camp for many years after Mrs. Fletcher was no longer able to run the camp.

In 1947, a key moment in early Civil Rights history happened at Camp Fletcher. For a week that summer, white counselors had been training black Girl Scout leaders. One night, as the girls slept, roughly 100 hooded and robed members of the Ku Klux Klan raided the camp and demanded the white counselors leave within 24 hours. The KKK filed a report saying the raid was necessary because the black and white women were using the same dining and restroom facilities, but the raid backfired. There was outrage as the story spread across the country, and later the next year Alabama passed the Anti-Masking Law, which made it illegal to conceal your identity while intimidating others. At the time, both Florida and Georgia has unsuccessfully tried to pass similar laws, but it passed in Alabama with an overwhelming majority.

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Dedication of Stockham Hut, 1949

In 1981 Camp Fire began leasing the camp. It was operational only during the summer months for residential camp and was not recognized as having a strong presence in the community. In 2003, the Youth Service League made the decision to merge into Camp Fire Alabama in order to preserve the camp and continue serving children, youth and families in the Birmingham area. Camp Fire Alabama became owner of the property.

After 89 years, Camp Fletcher still sits on those acres purchased by Pauline Fletcher. Kids still swim and run and play, and we’re working hard to preserve the history and beauty of Camp Fletcher, and we invite you to join us.

“You can’t punch keys on a cell phone when you’re in a canoe and the river is running high. You can’t stare at a computer screen when you’re aiming a bow and arrow. Hot, sweaty skin breaking the surface of cold pool water will always elicit the same rush. There is still freedom and self-discovery to be found between the patches of sun and shade in the woods, and that’s likely something that will never change.” –Cherri Ellis

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Present-Day Camp Fletcher

Click here for summer camp registration information, or visit us online to learn more about Camp Fletcher and Camp Fire Alabama.

Alumni Spotlight: Rachel

Today we continue our Alumni Spotlight Series with Rachel! Rachel is 18 years old and a senior at Pelham High School. She will be attending Jacksonville State University this fall to study early childhood education. Rachel started out as a camper and will be returning this year for her first summer as a Camp Fletcher counselor. We know her passion for Camp Fletcher will make her an amazing counselor, so keep reading to learn all about her experiences at camp!

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When does your Camp Fletcher story begin?
My camp story begins 13 years ago when my kindergarten class took a field trip to the camp pumpkin patch. That summer I started my first summer of camp as a residential camper and I fell in love!

How long have you been involved at Camp Fletcher?
This summer will be my 13th summer at camp. I started out as a camper when I was 6 years old. When I turned 15 I became an LIT at camp. At 16 and 17 I became a CIT, and it was great! This summer I will finally get to be a counselor and I could not be more excited to start a new journey at camp and with my camp family!

Can you tell me about one of your favorite camp memories?
After so many years it’s hard to think about just one. If I had to chose though I would say my 3rd summer at camp. My entire cabin except for me and one other girl went horseback riding at Tannehill. The two of us and two counselors went down to the creek and took the canoes to the waterfall. We sat in the water playing with rocks and trying to catch fish for a good 2 hours. I think that’s the moment I first fell in love with nature and I have camp to thank for that!

What lessons have Camp Fletcher taught you that you still carry with you today?
The biggest thing camp taught me was to be myself. I’ve always been a very loud and bold person, and camp taught me that that’s okay!

What role does Camp Fletcher have in your life today?
Camp has a huge part in my life! Getting to be an official counselor this summer is one of the best feelings to me. Every time I meet someone new, I tell them about camp. I’m sure by now my best friends and parents are tired of hearing about camp. I just love Camp Fletcher!

Do you feel your experiences at Camp Fletcher have shaped you? If so, how?
Camp 100% shaped me into the person I am today! I always knew I wanted to do something with kids for a living and going through the LIT and CIT really opened my eyes. While a CIT I discovered just how much I love kids and watching them learn, which is ultimately what caused my decision to go into early childhood education.

What would you tell someone who is considering coming to Camp Fletcher?
Come to camp, but be prepared to be there for life! Once you come to Camp Fletcher, you’re there forever!

What are your top 3 favorite things about camp?
1) My camp family(counselors) because they’re all such amazing people and I wouldn’t trade the summers I’ve spent working with them for anything! 2) The campers because they’re all so unique in their own ways, and it makes getting to be with them everyday so much more fun! 3) And canoeing because it’s so peaceful, and it’s a great time for everyone, campers and counselors, to work together without any arguing. The serenity of the creek makes everything better.

Can you describe your camp experiences in one word?
Amazing!!!

If spending your summer at Camp Fletcher sounds great to you, then visit us online to learn more about our summer camp programs or being a counselor at Camp Fletcher!

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day!

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Across the country today, Camp Fire is celebrating Absolutely Incredible Kid Day to honor all the youth in this nation! We’re asking all adults to write an awesome and encouraging letter to a child in their life, letting them know that they are an Absolutely Incredible Kid! Whether you write a letter, tweet, post, or send a message, don’t forget to let the children in your life know how important and special they are! A simple reminder on #AIKD can make a big difference in the way kids and adults communicate, so we want every kid to receive a message today! Family experts, authors and leaders agree, so be sure to check out the testimonials page, where you will find this letter from Oprah Winfrey, among many other special messages!

Dear Incredible Boys and Girls of America,

Please know that it is very important to dream BIG and work hard toward reaching your goals … Don’t ever let anyone or anything hold you back from doing your very best. Stay in school!

– Oprah

For more information about #AIKD, click here to visit Camp Fire online & see what’s happening with Camp Fire Alabama on Facebook!

Four reasons YOU should be a counselor @ Camp Fletcher!

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At Camp Fletcher, we know that summer internships and office jobs can sound enticing. In college, you hear lots of talk about networking and resumes, and many students think that means working for free, getting coffee, and sitting inside at a desk all summer. We have a little secret for you: the experiences and skills you gain as a camp counselor can be just as fulfilling as and a lot more fun than spending your summer in an office. If business casual and making copies aren’t for you, consider spending your summer outdoors at Camp Fletcher! Here are our top four reasons why you should be a summer counselor at Camp Fletcher.

The Camp Family: At Camp Fletcher, we’re not just coworkers; we’re a community and, by the end of camp, we’re a family. You’ll come to rely on your fellow counselors and supervisors as you work together and learn from the best. You spend a lot of time with these people, so you learn to love and accept them for who they are. Teamwork is key to a successful summer camp experience, so you’ll learn to get along, work hard and help each other. In the process, we know you will build lasting relationships with this incredible support system while also building a network you’ll carry with you forever. Any Fletcher counselor can tell you that counselor training usually begins with loud screams and hugs as old friends come together for another amazing summer at camp.

Unplugged & Outside: If you can’t imagine spending the entire summer inside, then camp might be the right place for you. You’ll get to know Camp Fletcher’s beautiful wooded acres because we spend a lot of time outside. You’ll hike through the woods, spend time in Shades Creek, and bond around a campfire. Sure, showers might be few and far between and we don’t spend much time with our cell phones, but we know you won’t mind too much because summers are for adventure and that’s exactly what you get at Camp Fletcher.

Playing Around: Camp activities range from swimming to canoeing to archery to field games, so if fetching coffee isn’t your cup of tea, Camp Fletcher is sure to provide you with opportunities to run, play, and have TONS of fun. But don’t worry: you’re not missing out on gaining necessary work experience because you’ll also learn excellent communication and leadership skills that will stay with you long after the last campfire ends.

Building character, not just a resume: Working at camp is definitely something that will improve your resume, but it’s also so much more than that. You’ll spend your summer building character and being a role model for the kids around you. You’re dedicating your entire summer to improving lives, and suddenly things aren’t always about you. You learn selflessness, gain a sense of community and responsibility to the world around you, and improve your problem solving skills and creativity. You’ll develop empathy, and future employers will notice your hard work and compassion.

If being a counselor at Camp Fletcher sounds like the perfect job for you, apply today! Summer staff must be at least 18 years old and able to commit the entire summer. Counselors are carefully chosen for their leadership skill and interest in child development. All staff members are required to have a criminal background check, a multi-panel drug test, and must participate in an extensive training program following the American Camping Association and Camp Fire’s policies and guidelines. CLICK HERE for more information about how to apply!

Staff Spotlight: Janis!

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Camp Director Janis Barksdale

Today we’re continuing our Camp Fletcher Staff Spotlight series with Janis! Janis is our fearless leader at Camp Fletcher, where she has served as the Camp Director since 2009. Janis works hard all year to make sure that our campers have a beautiful and exciting place to return each summer! 

What is your favorite part about working at Camp Fletcher?
The best part of working at Camp Fletcher after 7 years is being able to see the transformation of campers and counselors. It’s amazing to watch them conquer a fear and shine afterwards. It’s a great feeling for both of us.

In your opinion, what makes Camp Fletcher the best way to spend a summer?
For the campers, it’s all about having fun! They don’t realize they are learning life skills, being independent etc. For the parents, it’s a safe place to be while their child practices these skills. The staff becomes one big family while teaching life skills and overseeing the campers’ safety.

Where is your favorite spot at camp?
My favorite spot is by the camp fire. You can stare deep into the fire and solve the problems of the world while having heart-to-heart conversations with the campers and counselors. The hot dogs aren’t too bad either!

What are some goals you have for camp this summer?
I would like to see our campers have so much fun that they tell their friend, and their friend tells another friend and so on. We can have our own facetime! Like our camp shirts said last year, Camp Fletcher is the original social network!

What is the most interesting/exciting/strangest thing that has happened to you since you’ve been working at Camp Fletcher?
Kasey’s cow story was definitely the strangest… hands down (if you missed Kasey’s cow story in her staff spotlight, click here to read all about it!).

If Camp Fletcher sounds like the place for you this summer, be sure to visit us online for more information or click here to register today!