Hante Adventures challenge teens to grow as leaders and reach a deeper understanding of themselves within a supportive group. Check back regularly for our latest posts about Hante news, skill building, reflections and adventures. Subscribe to our blog’s RSS feed and get our news sent directly to you as we post it.

FEB. 20, 2017

Starting is the Hardest Part

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Sometimes it’s the fear of missing out that keeps you from trying something new.  And other times it’s the fear of the unknown.  Stepping out of one’s comfort zone and accepting that which we cannot control is one of the greatest lessons in life.  Failure is an innate part of learning and growth; discovering our limits while honing our successes is a key aspect of our development.  Too often we hold ourselves back for fear that the road ahead may be difficult, that we may feel embarrassed along the way, or that we may realize that we fall short of our expectations.

It can be hard to imagine yourself on a Hante but these are accessible adventures designed to develop leadership skills for anyone with a serious interest and a deep level of commitment. This year, Hante Trails aims to bridge the gap and make the leap a little smaller.  By cutting back on backpacking and instead spending more time immersed in the forest, there will be increased opportunities to connect with the natural world without too many added distractions.  Because the first three days will be spent base-camping in Pisgah Forest you won’t feel rushed to learn map and compass skills or fret about cooking dinner in a timely manner.  Once you become comfortable with the basics you can help serve the forest by removing invasive plants or building trails, skills that allow you to connect with the earth, while still returning to “base-camp” each afternoon.

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But no Hante is complete without its capstone challenge!  Your final five days will be spent backpacking a shortened trek either on the Appalachian Trail or Art Loeb.  With shorter mileage per day you’ll be able to enjoy the sport of backpacking and feel confident about returning to camp to have dinner ready by a reasonable hour. With six days to practice your camping skills, the addition of backpacking will feel like nothing more than a hike through the woods surrounded by spectacular views.

Thinking about joining a Hante is easy but making the decision to commit can be tough.  It’s the moment when you have to let off the clutch and engage the transmission.  With a few deep breaths and a positive mental attitude anything is possible. Believe in yourself and trust the program—take that little leap and come see what you can do! Who knows, maybe you’ll even surprise yourself.

Marlin Sill, Hante Director

FEB. 13, 2017

Remembering Mo Waite

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My dad meant so much to so many. He was a great, great man who will be sorely missed, but the good he brought to this world will live on in us all. To carry on all that he did will be an honor and a high task- in his wonderful memory we will do it! 

– Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director, Eagle’s Nest Foundation

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Dr. Benjamin Moseley (Mo) Waite, scientist, educator, conservationist, and friend and mentor to many, died February 3rd, 2017.

In 1950 Mo’s parents Dr. Alex and Hannah Waite chartered Eagle’s Nest Camp, originally founded in 1927, as a non-profit educational organization. Mo first attended camp with them as an 8-year-old boy in 1945 and continued to spend his summers at camp until he started graduate school. In the summer following his college graduation, he ran the laundry, washing all of the campers’ clothes, wringing them out and hanging them out to dry. He even pressed their jeans! In the 1970’s Mo helped found Carolina Camps for Children with Diabetes, providing life changing opportunities for children to learn to manage their illness in a camp setting. Mo has said that he found that to be “one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had”. Mo continued his parents’ legacy by serving on the board of trustees for over 35 years.

Eagle’s Nesters through the years will remember Mo as the mountain of a man who would hike a Dutch oven or watermelons out their camping sites for them, as the red mustached man who led them on “short” hikes in the woods, or as the chief of the Migisi. Trustees will remember paddling down the rivers of Western North Carolina or washing dishes and dancing in the Sun Lodge kitchen with Mo. They’ll also remember meaningful time spent on hikes through the woods and his thoughtful guidance as President of the Board of Trustees. Some are also lucky to have a least one of the beautiful hand turned bowls that he crafted. Mo started what has now become an annual Eagle’s Nest silent auction with about 6 of these bowls. The auction now raises close to $5,000 dollars each year for camp and Outdoor Academy scholarships. So beloved was Mo that one year a fellow trustee bid $500 for an old ceramic bowl that Mo had made and that was being used to serve hummus in at the auction.

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Mo with the Eagle’s Nest Board of Trustees.

Mo graduated from Rollins College in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He continued his studies at Duke University, and in 1963 he obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry. After postdoctoral fellowships at Duke University and in The Netherlands, he joined the faculty as an assistant professor at Bowman Gray School of Medicine in 1968.  He became the chairman of biochemistry in 1978, a position that he continued to fulfill until his retirement in 1998. He made tremendous contributions in the field of lipid biochemistry, including a landmark publication, “The Phospholipases”. He trained and was a mentor of numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have subsequently established successful research careers in both academics and industry.

He loved returning to his summer home in Maine to tend to his “deer-loved” vegetable garden and his relationships with friends and community. Mo loved the natural, bold beauty of Maine and together with Helen, his wife of 57 years, committed themselves to protecting and conserving its natural habitats. Moseley served on the board of Directors of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy for over 10 years, which, since its founding, has protected 6,330 acres of land, watersheds, islands and 62 miles of shoreline in Washington County.

Scientist, ceramicist, furniture maker, gardener, pickler, blueberry farmer, white water paddler, world traveler, bibliophile; Mo’s interests and talents ranged as wide as the circle of people who respected and loved him.

Together Mo and Helen, former Eagle’s Nest Camp Director, Executive Director, and founder of The Outdoor Academy, crafted a beautiful ship of life—each taking a turn as the mast and the rudder. Thousands of campers, students, faculty, professional peers, friends, extended family will continue to be touched by their joyful and inspiring journey through life.

Mo had an impact on so many people’s lives. In the week since his death his family has received and heard many stories that speak to his kindness, wisdom and humor. We invite you to share your stories of Mo with his family and Eagle’s Nest. Please send your stories to Noni at noni@enf.org.

A celebration of his life will be held on February 25th at Brevard College.

FEB. 9, 2017

Stay in School Kids…at Least ‘till Summer

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There’s always that moment in class when you stare out the window and daydream, and sometimes you daydream about all the places you want to be that don’t involve that classroom. So what have you been daydreaming about this week? Maybe the sea kayaking you’ll do in Washington State, or is it the climbing you’ll do in Pisgah Forest? You might even space out imagining the rolling hills in Scotland. But don’t get too caught up, there’s a lot to do between now and then. You’ll find that school will have a lot more to offer you for your Hante than you think.

“School,” you ask, “Really?” Let’s take a look at geometry for a second. For those of you thinking of coming to the Outdoor Academy (or if you’ve just left) you’ll know that much of what you learn in the classroom can relate to our “real” outdoor world. Your first look at a map or shooting a bearing with a compass will show you the relation between the gridlines on the chalkboard and the elevation profiles of the ridge you’re hiking. Or the difference of just a few degrees can put you off your mark by miles if you don’t calculate your direction of travel correctly.

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Still not sure what I’m tapping at? So maybe math isn’t your favorite, but what about literature or history? At some point in High School you may read the epic poem The Wallace, or your history teacher may show you excerpts of Braveheart.  That’s a great time to perk up and learn the history of how, for over 800 years Scotland fought so hard for independence from the English. William Wallace stands as one of Scotland’s Iconic Knights who led many successful campaigns against the English before his defeat.

Don’t forget science and natural history though. Sea Kayaking in the San Juan Islands will expose you to a plethora of ocean flora and fauna. The area is teeming not just with marine life, but a veritable buffet for marine mammals like Orca Whales, Dolphins and Sea Otters. Just south on the Olympic Peninsula you’ll find a rainforest bursting with evergreen trees, mosses, and ferns. The valleys sheltered by the massive Olympic Range towering overhead. Where water meets earth, you find streams and rivers filled with Salmon who recently found their way back upstream after the Elwha Dam removal. Eagles and bears returned to the bank of the rivers to feast, all while you pass quietly and just beyond sight, enjoying the wild as it should be: un-caged and live.

It’s very difficult to appreciate the beauty and understand the complexity of our world without a backbone of knowledge to build from. Yes, many centuries ago we lived simply, walking the earth without much needed beyond our basic needs. Times have changed, and whether for the good or bad, we must adapt. Part of that process should be absorbing all the information you can. Consume every morsel of information, so that as you step out and walk through the landscapes you can connect in new and exciting ways.

Marlin Sill, Hante Director

FEB. 3, 2017

Magic in the Mountains

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Certain nostalgia hits me this time of year. Throughout the first months of 2015, I was very busy preparing for a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. My February days were spent gathering and testing gear, making plans for drop boxes of food along the trail, and preparing to move all of my belongings into a storage unit. Handling the logistics of a thru-hike is stressful, but I look back on it now and find myself missing the excitement I felt knowing that a great adventure was on the horizon.

To combat the bittersweet nostalgia, as well as the cold days of winter and dark events taking place in our world right now, I’ve been re-reading my journals and blog posts from my time spent on the trail. Remembering how it felt to live simply in the woods, to connect with an incredible community of people, and to realize that I was capable of more than I ever imagined brings me intense joy, even after the fact.

I wanted to share a specific post I wrote about magic. It’s a good reminder that wonderful, beautiful things are happening around every corner. It’s there waiting for us on trails, in our neighborhoods, and in chance encounters with strangers, but to experience that magic we must fully open our eyes and hearts.

April 14th, 2015:

Before I began this journey, I was told that the trail would give me exactly what I needed at precisely the right time. I assumed this meant I’d find rides into towns without much hassle, delicious food from strangers at road crossings, and kind-hearted gestures from fellow hikers. Each of these things has happened countless times over the past 2.5 weeks, but the magic I’ve encountered has far surpassed anything I could’ve dreamed. 

After my last update, I climbed up and out of the Nantahala Gorge. The ascent was intense – nearly 16 miles of steady (and at times, very steep) uphill. I left the NOC in good spirits, but my mood quickly diminished as the day progressed. I thought maybe I was just hangry, so I ate and ate but my attitude remained sour. There were times during the hike that I had to bargain with myself to simply put one foot in front of the other. I’ve felt similarly on long training runs, but unlike those there was no opportunity to cut this day short. It was the toughest mental and physical day I’ve experienced on the trail thus far.

And then, magic came in the form of a new friend. I met Vulture at a shelter that afternoon, and we commiserated about our rough day and connected over our mutual love of the towns of Asheville and Boone, North Carolina. Vulture and I move at a similar pace and ended up hiking together for the next couple of days, including another tough climb from Fontana Lake into the Smokies. I don’t know if I’ll see Vulture again anytime soon, but her friendship came exactly when I needed it.

As a native North Carolinian, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That is, until hiking through it last week. My mind was blown! There is magic around every bend in the trail in the Smokies, and I feel fortunate to have been so intimately connected to that landscape for several days. Above 5000 feet, the forest morphs into a land of towering red spruce and Fraser fir. The air is thick with the fragrance of what I can only describe as “Christmas”. Most of the days I spent in the park were very wet and foggy, but there were times that the clouds lifted to reveal a blanket of mountains below me. Though the hiking was strenuous, I remained in high spirits as I moved through the forest and connected with a new community of incredible people.

I’ve also experienced an extreme amount of “traditional” trail magic over the past week. I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who give their time and money to feed, shuttle, and hang out with hikers. I’ve been given doughnuts, soda, veggie chili, brownies, Snickers bars, rides to and from town, and most importantly, the time and stories of many kind people. To each of you – THANK YOU for reminding me that people are so very good and for making me want to be better.

I also found magic as I walked into the town of Hot Springs, NC. I came to Hot Springs for the first time when I was in high school, and I was amazed by the fact that the Appalachian Trail ran directly through the heart of town. I saw people with backpacks and dreamed of being like them someday. Yesterday afternoon, “someday” became “now”. Dreams I’ve held onto for so many years are being realized each and every day, and there’s nothing that’s quite as magical as that.

Interested in spending time on the Appalachian Trail this summer? Hante Trails and AT Trek Virginia will give you the opportunity to experience trail magic firsthand. Very limited space is still available in both adventures – register today!

Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director 

JAN. 17, 2017

Change the Frame

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We’ve all been hit with the monotony of life. The constant repetitive motions that we go through, and how, at times, we feel lost in the game and want to break the rhythm.  We wake up every morning, just to lie back down to bed each night.  We pick up our fork just to bring it back down to the plate for more.  We fill up our car with gas, just to watch the needle fall back down again.  From the surface this 1 dimensional up-and-down seems to hold no meaning.

At some point in High School Math or Physics we learn the translation of 1 dimensional linear movement to 2 dimensions.  As you turn the frame on the point moving up and down you see the greater depth to the movement.  Most often it is a circle or ellipse, and that point now moves clock, or counter-clockwise, around and around.  What, moments before, seemed so monotonous, has rounded a corner creating rotation and gravity and depth.

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Much of our life too has this depth beyond the linear ups and downs.  Our feet moving round and round on the pedals, taking us up and over and across the streets, hills and mountains.  Our legs pressing down on the earth and up on our bodies to move us up the rocks.  Our arms reaching forward and back to catch the stroke and pull through propelling us down the rapids.  Every moment of every day we make so many repetitive motions.  Some small and some larger, and all seemingly monotonous on the surface, yet filled with meaning and drive, fueled by our needs wishes and desires.

And in those moments when you are down, it can be hard to see where you were when you were up.  It can be hard to see the other dimensions to why we keep up the motions day after day.  But I like to focus on what drives me and look beyond the linear tracks I have to take up and down, or side to side.  I change the frame and decide what I want my day or week or life to rotate around.

Marlin Sill, Hante Director