ST. PAUL — Out in the northwest corner of Decatur County lies a place that’s largely unknown within the county itself.
Oddly enough, this hideaway of natural splendor is anything but secret to the rest of the world. From Spain and Hong Kong they come; from France and Ireland; from England, Australia and Wales – year round – to ride horses, go canoeing, create arts and crafts, to go tower climbing, zip lining and mountain biking, to practice archery and riflery, and to play rugby, soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, football and any other sport one can think of.
This not-so-secret international place is enclosed by acre after acre of woods, with hiking trails winding in between, plenty of spots to fish and swim, and a river running through it all.
And WHERE, exactly, might one find this clandestine, international attraction? Better yet, what IS this place?
One need go no further than St. Paul, Decatur County, to find the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp. Camp executive director Don Sheppard is glad to welcome all comers for a free tour of the grounds and facilities, as he did the Daily News Wednesday morning.
According to Sheppard, Flat Rock comprises 240 acres of land. The facility welcomes some 8,000 visitors a year, most of them school-aged kids and teens, including a variety of school corporations, special-needs groups, church groups and other organizations. Many of those kids and groups, Sheppard explained, come from Indianapolis, while others come from places all around the world, with precious few coming from Decatur County itself.
“We see kids from all walks of life,” the executive director added.
Sheppard took the Daily News to view some of the facility’s cabins and “yurts,” along with its dining facility (which boasts a multitude of international flags hanging from the rafters) and “Alumni Lodge.” At the Flat Rock Nature Center, Sheppard introduced the Daily News to “Monty the Python” (a live, slithery orange snake) and an adorable rabbit that appeared eager for kids to start stopping by for handfuls of free snacks.