Tree cathedral


I’m the camp elf, so of course I’m partial to everything at Camp Fletcher, but even if I were the elf of some other camp, I’d have to admit that our creek is really special.

Shades Creek flows through the heart of Camp Fletcher, but the word creek doesn’t do it justice. Shades Creek is more river than creek as it courses through our property. It’s the camp’s main artery and it carries with it the ever-renewing lifeblood of a special spirit through our lovely woodlands. The sight of all that water slowly making its way to the Cahaba River and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico, always cheers an old elf’s soul.

Our creek is beautiful to look at as it wends its way through Camp Fletcher; beautiful, but also vitally important. Many of my animal friends live in the creek.  There are all of the fish who live in the creek, of course, but also turtles and water snakes and muskrats and plenty of other animals too. Most of my animal friends don’t live in the creek, but they rely on it for survival every bit as much as the fish. Raccoons and bobcats and deer and herons are just a few of Camp Fletcher’s animals that depend on our creek.

Our humans use the creek, of course. Every summer I see Camp Fletcher’s canoes going down the creek as campers engage in happy outdoor adventures they will remember for the rest of their lives. Hundreds of campers and school children walk beside Shades Creek every year on guided nature hikes and learn about the importance and natural beauty of Shades Creek first hand. Many children have had their first experience fishing on the banks of our creek.IMG_1124

The shortest route from the center of camp to the creek is a pathway that’s is a natural tunnel—no, a cathedral—of trees. The view on that pathway changes every day depending on the weather and season.  It’s beautiful any time of year but I love how the path looks right now on a sunny day with the trees so bright and green and in the full flush of spring.  The pathway is also especially nice in the fall when the canopy is a lush mix of red, brown, green and yellow from the changing leaves.

As the hiker makes the gentle descent to the creek, her soul sparks because her heart tells her she is heading someplace special.  And of course she is.  A walk of a minute or two is rewarded with a beautiful view of natural creation.  If the hiker quietly lingers on the bank of Shades Creek for a few moments, she might also spot some of the animals who inhabit this special place.

If you visit Camp Fletcher, don’t leave without walking through the tree cathedral down to the ever- flowing treasure that is Shades Creek.  Your soul will thank you for it.

Elves are attracted to the beauty of nature even more than humans are, so if you take that walk to the bank of our creek, you might just see me out enjoying the creek too—if only out of the corner of your eye.

Your 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

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