Eagle’s Nest takes pride in the quality of its camp staff. We maintain a strict selection process of hiring highly skilled and educated counselors and teachers. We carefully choose counselors who are creative, mature, engaging and fun-loving.

Our staff enjoy the outdoors and have a love for working with children and youth. In fact, many of our counselors are previous Nesters. Campers are surrounded with positive role models. Eagle’s Nest has one staff member to every four campers, and all staff members must be at least 18 years old, the majority being college students.

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Meet the Staff

Click on a staff member’s photo or name to learn more about each person.

Paige Lester-Niles

Paige Lester-Niles

Camp Director

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Paige Lester-Niles

Education

  • Salem College, B.A in English
  • National Outdoor Leadership School, Baja
  • College International de Cannes, France

Experience

  • Associate Director, ENC 1996-1999
  • Hanté Director, ENC 1994-1997
  • Wilderness Instructor, Birch Tree, ENF 1992
  • Camp Counselor, ENC, Summers 1990-1993

Paige Lester-Niles is the Director of Eagle’s Nest Camp. She graduated with a B.A. degree in English from Salem College in Winston-Salem. While studying education in college, she applied to work at Eagle’s Nest Camp because she loved her own camp experiences as a child and thought that working at a camp would give her invaluable teaching experience. Her first summer at camp, Paige helped direct the musical and taught soccer. Throughout college, she continued to spend her summers at Eagle’s Nest teaching everything from ceramics to swimming to Explorer’s Club and leading Hante Appalachian Trail treks and bike treks. After graduating, she started working full time with Eagle’s Nest and has now worked here for more than 15 years. During that time, she served as the Hante director, Head Counselor, Junior Counselor Coordinator and Associate Director. Her husband, Andy, whom she met at Eagle’s Nest, is also an educator.

Noni Waite-Kucera

Noni Waite-Kucera

Executive Director
Eagle’s Nest Foundation

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Noni Waite-Kucera

Education

  • Wake Forest University , B.A. in Anthropology
  • Wake Forest in London Program

Experience

  • Camp Director , ENF 1993-2003
  • Business Manager, ENF, 1989-1999
  • Assistant Camp Director, ENC 1984-1986
  • Developed Eagle’s Nest Whitewater Canoeing and Hante Bicycling Program

Elizabeth Waite-Kucera (Noni) is the Executive Director of Eagle’s Nest Foundation and serves on The Outdoor Academy Advisory Board. She graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., with a B.A. degree in anthropology. Previously, Noni was Camp Director at Eagle’s Nest Camp and Business Manager for Eagle’s Nest Foundation. She has also been the Swimming Director, Paddling Director and Hante bike trek leader.

Noni’s grandfather, Alex Waite, head of psychology at Rollins College, founded Eagle’s Nest Camp in 1945. Helen and Mo Waite, Noni’s parents, served as directors for the Eagle’s Nest Carolinas’ Camp for Diabetic Children. Her mother served as director of Eagle’s Nest Camp and executive director of Eagle’s Nest Foundation for many years. Noni spent her childhood years growing up at camp and is honored to carry on the mission of Eagle’s Nest as Executive Director of the foundation.

Liz Snyder

Liz Snyder

Assistant Camp Director

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Liz Snyder

Education

  • Appalachian State University, B.S. Recreation Management

Experience

  • Wilderness Instructor, SOAR
  • Junior Ranger Crew Leader and Trailhead Maintenance Coordinator, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
  • Account Manager, The Marketing Group
  • Intern, Glacier Raft Company and Outdoor Center
  • Project Wild Environmental Education Certification
  • North Carolina Outward Bound graduate

A native North Carolinian, Liz grew up attending camp in the mountains. Her love of adventure and western NC led her to study Outdoor Experiential Education at Appalachian State University in Boone. Liz enjoys being active and getting outside to run, mountain bike, canoe, and rock climb. She’s very excited to be a part of the Eagle’s Nest Community.

Marlin Sill

Marlin Sill

Wilderness Program Manager

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Marlin Sill

Education

  • Florida State University, B.S. Recreation and Leisure Services Administration

Experience

  • Youth Coach, Climbmax Climbing Center
  • Kayaking Instructor/Lifeguard/Swim Instructor, YMCA of WNC
  • Head Resident, The Outdoor Academy
  • Assistant Program Director/Counselor/Hante Instructor, Eagle’s Nest Camp

Marlin is a passionate outdoor educator who is excited to share his love of adventure with others. He has worked as a member of the Eagle’s Nest summer staff team for several years in the roles of Assistant Program Director, Cabin Counselor, Climbing Specialist, and Hante Instructor. Marlin enthusiastically joined the full-time team as Wilderness Program Manager in April 2014. In his free time, Marlin can be found chasing the various rivers, rocks and downhill trails of the southeast and around the country.  Whether he is on wheels, skis, or his feet, expect to see him moving.

Bonnie Jean Bates

Bonnie Jean Bates

Pisgah Forest Office Manager
OA Registrar

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Bonnie Bates

Education

  • North Georgia College & State University
  • East Georgia College

Experience

  • Administrative Assistant, Eagle’s Nest Foundation
  • Mortgage Consultant, First Citizens Bank
  • Administrative Assistant, General Motors Acceptance Corporation

Her love of the mountains, people, organizational skills, and attention to detail brought Bonnie to command central on the campus of Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy.  All roads lead to her desk in the Salt Mines.  Raised mostly in a small town in Georgia, summers found her and her family in the mountains of North Carolina or at her grandparent’s cabin in the near-by woods of Transylvania County, North Carolina.

Bella Smiga

Bella Smiga

Garden Manager
Wilderness Leader

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Bella Smiga

Education

  • University of Colorado at Boulder, B.A. Environmental Studies
  • Green Mountain College, M.S. Sustainable Food Systems

Experience

  • The Hub at Backcountry Outdoors, Outdoor Retail Associate
  • Main Street Power, Inc., Residential Solar Associate
  • Bella Energy, Inc., Solar Advisor
  • Thorne Ecological Institute, Summer Day Camp Intern

Bella developed a passion for environmental issues growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She journeyed out west to receive her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Colorado is where Bella was introduced to the myriad opportunities to recreate in nature. After college, Bella worked in the solar energy field, but it was cultivating a vegetable garden at home that inspired her the most. Developing self-reliance and a closer relationship with the planet through growing ones own food was where Bella knew she wanted to focus her energy. After moving to Brevard to return to the lush ecosystem of the Appalachians, Bella decided to pursue her passion for sustainable food by receiving her M.S. from Green Mountain College. Bella is honored to be able to grow food sustainably for Eagle’s Nesters and share this experience with youth.

Mark Walker

Mark Walker

Kitchen Manager

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Mark Walker

Experience

  • Kitchen Manager, Gwynn Valley Camp
  • Food Service Director, The Mountain Retreat Learning Ctr.
  • Food Manager, Mountain Fresh Grill
  • Cook, The Beak & Talon

After serving in the Marines for 4 years, Mark began his cooking career at various restaurants in Michigan. Taking his love of food to the mountains, he has now  been cooking in Western North Carolina  for over 12 years. He enjoys baking delicious treats and spending time outside with his wife, three children, and their family dog.

 

Molly Herrmann

Molly Herrmann

Registrar

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Molly Hermann

Education

  • UNC Chapel Hill, BA History; Concentration: Ancient Medieval
  • UNC Wilmington, MA Global History: Concentration: Atlantic World
  • University of Buffalo, ABD History; Concentration: Atlantic World, Slavery
  • Molly Herrmann joined the Eagle’s Nest staff in May of 2014 as the Winston-Salem Registrar/Office Manager.Previous to joining the Eagle’s Nest, Molly was a PhD candidate at the University of Buffalo in the History Department studying slavery in Charleston, SC.  Molly brings to the Eagle’s Nest her passion for experiential education and a love of outdoor activities.  In her spare time, Molly can be found hiking, camping, or playing with her two dogs

Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons

Social Media & Marketing Coordinator

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Micah Parsons

Education

  • American University, BA Film and Media Arts; Minors: Literature and Cinema Studies; Public Health ’15
  • The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague(FAMU) ’13

Micah Parsons started coming to Eagle’s Nest Camp as a child in 2001. Very quickly, Eagle’s Nest became an important part of the lives of her and her family. In addition to attending camp every summer, Micah participated in the Paleo Added Adventure, Hante Montana, and Hante WILD. After working on the summer camp staff for several years, Micah is excited to be joining the year-round Foundation staff. She is thrilled to combine her passion for media arts with her love of Eagle’s Nest. In her free time she loves to watch movies, find beautiful views, and spend time with the people she loves.

Cara Varney

Cara Varney

Development Director

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Cara Varney

Education:

Ohio University B.S. in Outdoor Education and Recreation

Experience:

  • Challenge Course Facilitator and Camp Counselor, Adventure Education Center
  • Trips and Clinics Manager, OU Outdoor Pursuits
  • Wilderness Instructor, SOAR
  • Wilderness Instructor, ARCC
  • Outdoor Program Manager, Life Adventure Center
  • Paddling Director, Eagle’s Nest Camp 2015
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR, WMA)
  • American Canoe Association Level 3 Canoe Instructor

Cara, a North Carolina transplant from Ohio, now calls Brevard and the Blue Ridge Mountains “home”.  After hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 she took the role of Paddling Director for ENC before moving to the development office full-time.

Not only is Cara a skilled paddling instructor, she’s a talented experiential educator and an avid outdoorswoman. She holds a BS in Recreation from Ohio University, has worked in the field of outdoor education for over ten years. Cara spends her free time paddling, climbing, and hiking, tending to her impressive garden, and baking treats for her colleagues.

Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller

Development Assistant

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Michelle Miller

Education:

  • College of Charleston, BA Theatre ’12 Minor: Dance
  • Fort Lewis College

Experience:

  • Camp Counselor, Blue Mountain Ranch

Michelle grew up in Virginia just outside D.C. and adopted the state motto of Virginia is for Lovers as her own personal mantra. With a love for both the beaches and the mountains she spends her days hiking, horseback riding, enjoying the performing arts and frolicking in the sea. After college Michelle began work in Development for a theatre company in Charleston, SC and after eight years in the city Michelle is enjoying the mountain life with her wife and dog.

Anna Lauria

Anna Lauria

Camp Program Manager

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Anna Lauria

Education

  • South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Major: Ballet
  • Barnard College, B.A. Mathematics and Economics
  • University College of Dublin, Ireland

Experience

  • Camp Counselor, ENC
  • President, Columbia University Dance Marathon for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  • Commercial Claims Specialist, Liberty Mutual Insurance

Anna grew up in upstate SC and spent many hours exploring the beautiful waterfalls of that area. She joined the Eagle’s Nest community for the first time as a camper in 2004 and returned as a counselor in 2013 and 2014. As a counselor, she taught rock climbing, horseback riding, and basketry. She has always been passionate about sharing her love of the outdoors and is excited to make this her full-time mission. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, hammocking, dancing, eating, and friends.