A visit from Trail Life

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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).

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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.

 

Welcome aboard Talicia

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Talicia Addison hanging out with her bullfrog friends at our goldfish pond, one of her favorite spots at Camp Fletcher.

If you’ve been to Camp Fletcher in the last few weeks, you may have noticed a super friendly ball of fire go shooting past you.  Yeah, that would be Talicia.

Talicia (pronounced tuh-leesh-ah) Addison recently joined the Camp Fletcher staff as our new Outdoor Education Coordinator.  Talicia has been helping us to facilitate field trips over the past year and now she’s going to be organizing and running them.

Talicia is a Bessemer native who graduated from UAB with a Bachelors of Science in Education. She has been a substitute teacher with the Jefferson County school system for the past 3 years.

Talicia says she fell in love with Camp Fletcher while serving as a field trip facilitator. Her motto is “leave everything better than you found it” and she plans to leave Camp Fletcher a little better every day she’s on the job.

She lives in McCalla, just a mile and a half from camp, with her husband and three children. You can reach Talicia at taddison@campfire-al.org.

 

Tree cathedral

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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 twinkle@campfire-al.org.

Free Stuff! – washer, dryer and bunks

Just because we love our blog and social media followers most of all, we’re posting this here before sharing this offer to the world on Craigslist.

We’ve had a new washer and dryer donated to the camp and we need to unload the old ones.  We’re offering the set for the low, low price of free, just for the asking.  The old set was working the last time we checked, but they come as is with zero guarantees.

Also, we’re still up to our ears in beds that we need to get rid of. We had something like sixty sturdy metal bedframes that we’ve recently replaced. The old ones were stashed all over the camp and we need to get rid of them before this year’s summer camp season begins. They’re in good condition and have a lot of life left in them. They come in various configurations (some bunkbeds, lots of singles). They would be perfect for hunting camps or anyone who just needs an extra bed around. We sold a few of them for $10 each but we’re getting desperate and we’re dropping the price to free.

Drop us a line at campfletcher@campfire-al.org or give us a call at 205.428.1059

We’re open during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

 

 

 

 

Too much fun

Hey kids (and kids at heart), you can ask Camp Fletcher’s camp elf Twinkle Loblolly a question or just drop him a note to say hi.  Twinkle would love hearing from you. His e-mail address is twinkle@campfire-al.org.

From: Camp Fletcher Management
To: Field Trip Coordinator           
Re: Nature Hike

Dear Ms. Elmwood,

We have a serious problem and you need to fix it. One of your field trip facilitators has gone rogue and you need to take disciplinary action immediately. I’m referring that man (Mr. Hank, I believe his name is) who often leads the nature hikes for school field trips.

We had a group in this week from an elementary school in Gardendale, and that big, affable dunce leading the nature walk included the stupid elf among his listing of the creatures living at Camp Fletcher. By the end of the day we had scores of highly impressionable second and third graders (and a lot of their parents too) spotting elves behind every tree.

This will not do.  It will not do at all.

The school came to Camp Fletcher to learn about the water cycle, not about elves. I’ll admit that the feedback forms said that Mr. Hank did a good job of explaining how the streams and creek they saw on their nature walk are part of one of the richest and most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, so it’s not a total disaster, I suppose. But mentioning Twinkle Loblolly destroys all of his (and by extension Camp Fletcher’s) credibility. Could you get it into his thick skull that elves do not exist, no matter what he thinks he’s seen on his walks through our woods? And those notes and the other things that imaginary mythical creature has left for him to find are evidence of nothing more than a tiresome prank his colleagues are playing on him.

The bottom line here is that the only purpose of our field trips is to teach children science. We don’t need to be sparking their little imaginations or allowing them to have too much fun while they’re with us. We need to stick to the mission at all times during our field trips.

I need you to have a stern conversation with Mr. Hank forbidding him to speak of elves ever again, and I need you to follow it up with a strongly worded letter of warning that is to go into his Permanent File. After that, I would like you to circulate a memo to all of our field trip coordinators expressly banning the use of the words elf or Twinkle while on camp property.

On a related subject, I’ve observed way too much laughter from the children at our school field trips this spring.  Science is a serious, rigorous business, and the children are here to learn.  If the children are enjoying their days at Camp Fletcher as much as they appear to be, how much could they really be learning? Is there a way you could take some of the fun out of our programming? Perhaps you could replace some of the field trip facilitators you have now with people who are, um, well less likely to make the children quite so happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want all of the kids in tears at the end of the day; but it would be nice if they ended the day a little more sullen, a bit bored and much quieter than when they came through our gates in the morning.  The quiet part would be especially nice. As things are going now, there’s simply too much laughter and too many smiles at Camp Fletcher for me to be comfortable with our field trip programming.

Thanks for getting right on this important initiative to make Camp Fletcher less fun for everyone.

Have a nice day,

Camp Fletcher Management

 

Awesome summer ahead!

If you are a college student or graduating high school senior looking for a great summer job, then this could be your most awesome summer ever. How would you like to make some money, serve your community, and earn a $1,213 education award that can be applied to your college expenses, all while you’re having fun working in the outdoors this summer at Camp Fletcher? If this sounds like you, then we need to talk!

Camp Fire Alabama is recruiting  five AmeriCorps-VISTA Summer Associates for Camp Fletcher. Everyone is welcome to apply for the position, but it is ideal for graduating high school seniors or college students, these positions will focus on summer learning and outreach opportunities.

Here’s the scoop on these summer positions:

Summer Learning Associate (3 Available Positions)AmeriCorps_VISTA_Logo1_Halftone
The Camp Fletcher Summer Learning Summer Associates will design and facilitate educational activities for 1st through 9th grade students participating in Camp Fletcher’s Summer Day Camp program. Associates will be assigned to work with one tribe (or age group) over the summer to lead STEM activities in the VISTA Education Garden and assist with summer reading activities.

 

Outreach Summer Associate (2 Available positions)
The Camp Fletcher Outreach Summer Associates will coordinate opportunities to expand the reach of the VISTA Education Garden. These associates will work directly with full-year VISTA members to assist with programs and activities that support the needs of the garden.

Benefits include:

  • Bi-weekly living allowance of $455
  • AmeriCorps Education Award of $1,213 or Summer Stipend  of $259 upon completion
  • On-site Orientation and Training
  • Involvement in the AmeriCorps VISTA Alumni Network and eCommunity

Members must be at least 18 years old and able to commit to serve on a full-time basis for 9 weeks (June 5 – August 6, 2017). A passion for serving the community and commitment for the entire summer is expected.

If you are already know you want to be one of our Fabulous Five VISTA Summer associates, you can apply by going to this link.

APPLY HERE

If you’ve got questions, give Camp Fire a call at (205) 324-2434!