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.
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.
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