Inspiring change at Camp Fletcher

18033087_10154495572008715_8204759775768497623_nToday Camp Fire Alabama is launching a campaign for Camp Fletcher. Check out our site to see how the money we raise will go towards supporting campers and improving infrastructure throughout the camp.

You can apply your gift towards providing scholarships for campers, improving our network of trails, building an obstacle course, smoothing out our rutted roads, building a treehouse library or any of the other great things the funds we raise will make possible.

We understand that there are plenty of great causes you can support, and we can hear you thinking—Camp Fletcher is a wonderful place, but it’s just a camp.  Well, not only does Camp Fletcher make summer camp possible for many children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to camp, Camp Fletcher truly changes lives. Here’s the true story of one such transformation that began at Camp Fletcher

What are you planning to do with that dagger?”

That’s the question one of our counselors asked a child who had spent his crafts period fashioning a wooden knife.

“Kill myself,” the boy replied.

Imagine for a moment that you didn’t grow up surrounded by people who loved you. Would your life have turned out differently? What possible reason would you have to care about others if you were convinced no one cared about you? These are the kinds of questions we confront at Camp Fletcher.  We learn to love by being loved.  We learn to care by being cared for.  Camp Fletcher is preparing the next generation of leaders to love and to care.  One kid at a time

Imagine an environment where children get to have experiences and opportunities they’ve never had before. An idyllic 300-acre setting where  they can enjoy time in the woods, exercise their imaginations and be surrounded by people who care about them. That’s what Camp Fletcher does every summer for the hundreds of at-risk kids we serve. Camp Fletcher is a place that literally changes lives.

We can only imagine what might have become of that young boy had he not attended Camp Fletcher that summer. He came to us a bullied, feeling lost, friendless and alone. The good news is he was with us that summer. With loving support and early intervention, that boy began to thrive. He attended day camp with us for the next four years. He graduated high school with exceptional grades and surrounded by friends. When he was old enough, he returned to Camp Fletcher—this time as one of our counselors.

How is Camp Fletcher changing the world?

We do it by working with one kid at a time by providing a space where every child is surrounded by friends. And love. And care.  We couldn’t do it without you. Your support makes a huge difference. Won’t you join our mission and help change the world—one kid at a time? Please visit our campaign site where you can read more about our plans for Camp Fletcher and where you can make your tax deductible donation.

Thank you!

Keeping it fresh after 91 years

Pearl makes a friend at Camp Fletcher.

You might think that one week of summer camp is the same as any other, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Any child who goes to Camp Fletcher can expect to experience certain activities like singing camp songs, canoeing, swimming and doing crafts. You can bet the ranch that taco salad will be on the menu on any given Wednesday. But, although a lot of what makes camp great doesn’t change from week-to-week or year-to-year, every week at Camp Fletcher is unique, and every week is special.

There are several reasons for this, starting with the kids who come to camp.  Our campers play a huge role in making the Camp Fletcher experience so fun and memorable. Our mix of campers is different on any given week, and our campers literally make the camp what it is.

The weather is different from week to week.  Last week was soggy. This week started off dry and beautiful. That alone makes a big difference in the programming we’re running on any given day.

Some weeks feature special enrichment activities.   Recently Courtney Underwood with

Courtney Underwood and Gatsby teaching our kids about responsible pet ownership.

the Greater Birmingham Humane Society stopped by for a visit. Our campers were delighted to meet Courtney and learn about responsible pet ownership.  They were especially delighted to make friends with Gatsby and Pearl, Courtney’s canine companions.  Gatsby, a Great Dane, and Pearl, a Pomeranian, charmed everyone they met at Camp Fletcher that day.

Also, we just like to mix things up to keep the camp experience fresh for everyone as the summer rolls on. This week camp has a Homecoming theme. Why? Why not? For Homecoming Week our campers are encouraged to wear themed attire each day, so we’ll be having Tie Dye Tuesday and Wacky/Tacky Wednesday this week. At the end of the week our campers will be crown a homecoming “king” and “queen” from among the counselors. I know–fun, right?

While every week is special, some weeks are downright unique. Camp Firecracker is just around the corner, and it will be a week of camp unlike any other we’ve ever offered.  Camp Firecracker will be the first dedicated week of residential camp especially for kids with ADHD to be offered in the state. That week of camp has been carefully crafted from start to finish.

This is our 91st year at Camp Fletcher, so we know a thing or two about building positive and memorable experiences for our campers. But, even after 91 years, we do everything we can to make each day at camp fresh and new.


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

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
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


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