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!

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Fall & Spring Field Trips

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At Camp Fletcher, we bring academics outdoors! With over 300 acres to explore, Camp Fletcher is the perfect place for students in public, private and homeschools to experience nature through hands-on, collaborative learning experiences. We have a broad spectrum of academic and educational lesson plans that were designed specifically for Camp Fletcher, all of which meet Alabama State Department of Education core curriculum standards. A field trip to Camp Fletcher is the perfect way to energize learning and to teach your students to become ecologically literate, responsible citizens!

Field trips at Camp Fletcher can cover a wide range of subject areas and topics, and we always include plenty of hands-on activities. Our program staff is committed to working with your class or school and finding the perfect curriculum to meet the needs of your students. From archery to environmental science to our brand new Education Garden, we know students will learn, grow and explore when they come to Camp Fletcher.

Our curriculum is designed with Camp Fletcher as the classroom. Our programs utilize an interdisciplinary approach to promote the appreciation of our natural surroundings and the values of working together. From learning about science by the creek to developing team-building skills on the ropes course, every aspect of a field trip to Camp Fletcher will leave students interested, engaged and excited about learning. Our aim is to teach students the concepts of sustainability outside of the classroom walls by providing opportunities for students to have experiences with nature in a living environment.

If you’re interested in scheduling a field trip for the 2015-2016 school year, or if you’d just like more information about our programs, you can visit us online or contact us today. Field trips at Camp Fletcher are customized based on the needs of your group, and our program staff will be happy to design a learning experience to fit your needs. If you’d like more information about our Outdoor Education curriculum, as well as field trip policies and procedures, visit the Outdoor Education page on our website today!

AmeriCorps VISTA Spotlight: MiChele!

This week, Camp Fire Alabama and Camp Fletcher welcomed two new AmeriCorps VISTA members to the Education Garden program at camp! These VISTAs are a vitally important resource for Camp Fletcher as they work to engage the community, develop new resources and provide valuable capacity building to our organization. We’re so excited for you to meet MiChele!

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MiChele joined Camp Fletcher as the Resource Development Specialist for the Education Garden project. She is originally from Malden, MO, but lived in the Charleston, SC area for more than 25 years. She comes to Birmingham to spend time with her daughter, and we’re so excited to have her at Camp Fletcher!

What made you decide to serve as a VISTA with Camp Fletcher?
I am very excited about teaching youth about where their food comes from and how to make healthy food choices because of that knowledge.

What previous experiences do you have that you feel will equip you for your position?
I have experience dealing with people from all walks of life and my life experience helps me relate to them in a way that they can find value in our program. I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Arizona for the last 18 months honing the skills I need in my current role.

What are your goals for your year of service? What do you hope to accomplish?
I plan to expand the network of community partners and continue to grow the relationships with the existing partners in regards to Camp Fire programs and specifically for Camp Fletcher and the Community Garden. I also plan to help establish a support/governing body for Camp Fletcher for long-term sustainability.  I will set up a program for continuity when my service is complete that will allow for seamless portability.

What aspect of your position are you most excited about?
I am thrilled to work with people that are “on fire” with passion!

What aspect of your position do you feel will be the most challenging?
Learning the traffic patterns will probably be the most challenging – it has been so far.

What are you excited to do now that you’re in Alabama?
I moved to Alabama to be near my daughter. (I spent the last two years in Arizona near my son.) I am looking forward to some road trips with her to visit my family in Missouri and friends in South Carolina and North Carolina. I am also really excited about getting to enjoy the fall colors again. Each time I move to a new area, it is like Christmas – getting to explore all the things that are intrinsic to the area. I enjoy camping, hiking, and gardening.

We’re so excited to have MiChele join us for her year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA! For more information about the Education Garden, click here!

Earth Day in the garden

This year, Camp Fletcher celebrated Earth Day by planting the garden! Under the direction of Brandon, the Operations Director at Camp Fletcher, volunteers from the Camp Fire Alabama office spent the entire day in the garden. It was a lot of work, but everyone had a great time helping out. We could not be more excited about all of the produce the garden will yield this summer!

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The Camp Fletcher Education Garden
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Squash plants in the garden
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Tomato plants with hand-made cages

Most of our plants came from the University of Montevallo Organic Garden, and we are so thankful to them for their help and support! We purchased more than 90 plants from their plant sale, including a variety of tomatoes, squash, cucumber, and basil. We also planted bell peppers, corn, okra, green onions, pole beans, carrots, and chives from seeds, as well as a few plants of zucchini and eggplant. We have a large variety planted in the garden this year, and we’re looking forward to launching the garden curriculum during summer programs.

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Our CFO, Rick, hard at work in the garden
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Camp Fire employees volunteering in the garden

Spending the day outside in the sun was so much fun, and we know our volunteers had a great time working with one another, planting and enjoying the nice weather. If you are interested in spending a day at Camp Fletcher volunteering in the garden, do not hesitate to contact us! As our garden begins to grow, we will need lots of help maintaining and harvesting, and this is a great opportunity for individuals or groups of all kinds – from families to church groups and more! If you would like to learn more about the education garden, click here.

Starbucks & Camp Fletcher: Planting in April

Yesterday was a beautiful day at camp, and, after about a week of rainy days, we needed it. The sun finally came out, and temperatures stayed in the 70s all afternoon. It was a perfect day for our amazing Starbucks volunteers to come out to camp, and we had a great afternoon planting with them. A small group came, bringing with them tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and marigolds to plant in our raised beds close to the camp office. It was too muddy to plant in the Education Garden, but they had a great time working on the raised beds and in the tires. We’re so glad to have these amazing volunteers help with the planting and upkeep of our gardens, and we cannot wait until we’re able to harvest some amazing produce from these plants!

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As soon as it dries out, we’ll be able to plant the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers we got from the University of Montevallo Organic Plant Sale last week in the Education Garden. Our garden is all tilled and ready to go, and Wednesday is looking like a great day to get to work!

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The site of our Education Garden

If you would like to help in our Education Garden, we would love to have you! We’re looking for individuals and groups to help care for our garden, so if you’ve got a green thumb, contact us today for more information about how you can help!

Starbucks Community Partnership

We couldn’t do everything we do at Camp Fletcher without some help, and we are so thankful to have amazing partnerships with local businesses and members of the community. One of the strongest partnerships we have at Camp Fletcher is with our local Starbucks stores. As a company, Starbucks has a mission to improve the communities where its stores are located, and our local district has seriously invested in Camp Fletcher. Today kicks off Starbucks’ Global Month of Service, and local stores will be helping out at Camp Fletcher in order to invest in the young people we serve.

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Campers exploring The Living Garden

Today, employees from local stores are joining us for a work day at Camp Fletcher. Our garden takes a lot to get it going in the spring, and we are so happy to have volunteers come out to help clean up the garden area and get it ready for spring planting. However, this isn’t the first time Starbucks employees have dedicated time to helping at Camp Fletcher. Over the past few years, we’ve been lucky enough to have Starbucks employees give time for MLK Day of Service, including this past MLK Day, when volunteers helped rebuild broken canoe racks. Additionally, Starbucks has previously sponsored The Living Garden at camp, a smaller garden also located at camp. As we shift gears and begin to develop our Education Garden, Starbucks is right there with us, giving us a helping hand.

We are so thrilled to be working with Starbucks, and all the opportunities this company has given us! In a few weeks, Camp Fletcher will be attending the opening of a brand new Starbucks store in Hoover Crossing, and we can’t wait to spend the day telling customers about all Camp Fletcher has to offer!

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Starbucks serving Camp Fletcher on MLK Day

Community service is something that is deeply entrenched in the culture at Starbucks, and we’re not the only organization lucky enough to have them as partners – Starbucks partners with over 14,000 organizations! Nearly 88,000 of their employees have served as volunteers and have dedicated over 450,000 volunteer hours. Starbucks is making a difference in communities everywhere, and in the lives of the children who spend their time playing, growing and learning at Camp Fletcher.

If you would like more information about Starbucks Global Month of Service, you can visit them online. For more information about Camp Fletcher’s Education Garden and how you can help, click here.

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!