Outdoor classroom

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One objective we have at Camp Fletcher is to address the summer “learning loss” that happens when children are out of school for weeks at a time. We’re sneaky about it, so very often we’re able to turn camp activities into learning activities without the kids even knowing it. In this picture some of our campers are learning about bees.

We put a lot of time and energy into crafting lessons that are so enjoyable our campers don’t realize they’re actually sitting in an outdoor classroom and fully engaged in learning about nature or improving their reading skills.  Of course we will always spend plenty of time at camp with swimming and archery and canoeing and crafts and singing camp songs and all of the other things that make for a great summer camp experience, but parents shouldn’t be surprised that their campers are also learning while they’re having fun.

 

Fall Field Trips @ Camp Fletcher

Picture2Did you know that Camp Fletcher isn’t just a summer camp! The fun doesn’t end when school starts — in fact, it’s just beginning! Our outdoor education program provides public, private and home schools the opportunity to experience camp all year long. Using the outdoor education curriculum created specifically for Camp Fletcher, we encourage students to become ecologically literate, responsible citizens, in an experiential learning environment. The program utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to promote the appreciation of our natural surroundings and the values of working together. Our aim is to teach students the concepts of sustainability and interdependency outside of the classroom walls.

Our program activities include creek ecology, archery, hiking, and low ropes course initiates, among many others. Content is completely customizable depending on your specific class needs. Additionally, our programs align with Alabama Course of Study Standards, and Camp Fletcher is accredited by the American Camp Association.

If you’re looking for something new and exciting this school year, look no further than Camp Fletcher’s Outdoor Education program! We’re now booking for fall field trips, so reserve your date before our calendar is full. For more information and an online reservation form, visit our website today!

VISTA Spotlight: Jade

Summer is always an exciting time at Camp Fletcher, but this summer has been especially exciting with the addition of two new VISTA members, Cynthia and Jade. Jade joined Camp Fletcher and Camp Fire Alabama in June as our Education Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA. She has some fantastic ideas for our garden education program, and we know she’s going to have a great time serving with us!

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Jade is 23 years old and was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from The University of Montevallo. We’re so excited about all of the passion and experience Jade brings to our VISTA team!

What made you decide to serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher?
I decided serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher for two reasons. First, I want to have experience in the education field and, secondly, Camp Fletcher matches with my goals for a future career in school counseling.

What previous experiences do you have that you feel will equip you for your position?
A majority of my work and volunteer experience has been in youth service. During college, I worked as a teacher’s aide at Child Study Center, a senior camp counselor at YMCA Camp Cosby and mentored for two years with Blueprints College Access Initiative.

What are your goals for your year of service? What do you hope to accomplish?
My number one goal for my year of service is to make sure every garden exploration lesson plan is up to course standards and is fun! Also, I want every day to be a day of learning, not just for kids, but every adult — as well as myself.

What aspect of your position are you most excited about?
I am most excited about interacting with kids, but I am so excited about doing a job I love. With this mindset I know I can give more than 100% to achieve success for everyone involved in the garden education program at Camp Fletcher.

What aspect of your position do you feel will be the most challenging?
This job is a new adventure, the most challenging aspect of this job is to make a curriculum that everyone will like and find successful.

We know Jade is going to do a great job, and we can’t wait to share the garden education program she’s designing with you next spring! For more information about Camp Fletcher’s garden and the VISTA project, visit us online!

 

Fall Gardening at Camp Fletcher

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October was a busy month for all of us at Camp Fletcher! We had a great time at all of our Fall Events, and we even managed to plant our fall garden. With the addition of our new VISTA members, Danelle and Chele, we’ve really been able to get to work and the fall garden is looking great!

This is our very first fall garden, and we learn something new each time we plant! Our summer garden yielded corn, squash, tomatoes and more, and we are thrilled to try our hand at some fall vegetables. Our plants this time include carrots, garlic, strawberries, kale, cabbage, collards, and three varieties of lettuce. We also added a fence around the garden and a bench with planters. We couldn’t have done it without the help from Camp Fire Alabama employees spending time in the garden last week!

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Many of the plants came from The University of Montevallo’s Organic Plant Sale. Everything is in the ground and growing, and we’re excited to see what we’re able to harvest in the coming months.

If you would like more information about Camp Fletcher’s Education Garden, click here. We’re always looking for volunteers with green thumbs to help out, so feel free to contact us today if you’d like to get involved!

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!

Honey bees are buzzing…

Did you know that we have three honey bee hives at Camp Fletcher? These hives are part of our new outdoor education program at camp, designed to teach kids about healthy food, science and nature in an interactive learning environment! Our bees have been dormant for the past few months, but this weekend we had a volunteer come out to camp to check on our hard working bees.

Our volunteer fed the bees sugar to help them survive the winter. Sprinkling sugar in the hive once a month helps the bees last through the cold, lean months. Bees are less active in the winter, and we wanted to be sure the hives were still in great condition.

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Staff and volunteers who are not trained with bees should keep a safe distance away from the hives at all times.
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Our volunteer sprinkling sugar in this very active bee hive!

As the weather warms up, our bees will become more and more active. In the spring, we should be able to collect and process our first honey harvest. Honey can be harvested twice a year, in the spring and fall, as long as the bees have produced enough honey for themselves to survive the winter. Making and selling honey is the primary reason we have bees at Camp Fletcher, but they also have other benefits; bees pollinate flowers, increasing their health and enhancing nearby gardens. Additionally, buying and consuming honey made where you live can help with allergies because the pollen helps your body build up immunity to allergens in your local environment.

Caring for our honey bees is a fun and exciting activity that camp staff and trained volunteers have the opportunity to help with. As we get ready to harvest honey in April, we will be sure to keep you updated on our bees and where you will be able to buy our fresh, local honey!