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MAR. 17, 2017

Back to the Woods

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Spring break at The Outdoor Academy is always a blessing and a curse. It is nice to relax, catch up on sleep, and all of the other little things that you put off; but it is also hard to be away from our amazing community. I asked one of our students, Leah, to share some of her thoughts about spring break:

“Transitioning back into OA after spring break can be difficult for some and easy for others. From my perspective, coming back was one of the easiest things I’ve done. I was excited to see all of my friends and the faculty! We are such a close knit community that it was impossible not to miss everyone while I was away. Some things I look forward to in these last two months are mastering new skills I am learning, like stain glass, and creating deeper relationships with everyone. I learned how to live in a community and work with my peers. I have developed more confidence because of how accepting everyone is. That is what made the transitions easy for me. As for our semester, we all accept and love each other. We sometimes fight like siblings, but we can never really stay mad at each other. We have all grown in our own ways and as a group. This is home for four months because that’s what we make it, home.”

By the calendar we may only be halfway through the semester, but in my mind we are closer to two-thirds done. This is due to the amount of outdoor programming about to happen. I know the next months will fly by as we get out on the rivers, rocks, and trials. We are all ready to get out into the woods, work together, and breathe in spring. Bring it on!

Brian Quarrier, Arts, Environmental Seminar, Wilderness Leader

MAR. 8, 2017

The Trustees of Eagle’s Nest

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Eagle’s Nest is special in so many ways, but one that is very meaningful to me is that it is chartered as an educational non-profit organization.   Most independent schools are non-profits but for an independent summer camp it is not nearly as common and certainly was unusual in 1950 when our charter was granted.

Alyssa Merwin and Rebecca Blecke Hilinski: Former Trustees, OA alumni

Alyssa Merwin and Rebecca Blecke Hilinski: Former Trustees, OA alumni

What this means for us in the big picture is that we are not owned by any one individual but rather have a board of trustees who holds our mission in trust and who guide us in long range planning, financial decision making, best practices in education, human resources and so much more.  The Eagle’s Nest Board of Trustees is comprised of 25 of some of the most committed folks I know.  All have some connection to Eagle’s Nest, whether their child or grandchild attended Camp or OA, or they themselves are an alumnus of one or all of our programs.   Educators, attorneys, business people, artists, accountants, environmentalists, realtors, health professionals and community volunteers are actively serving on our board.  We strive to keep our board well rounded, representing all walks of life, multiple generations and all facets of our community.

Currently we are specifically seeking OA alumni to carry that voice in this group.  If you are interested let me know by sending an e-mail to me at noni@enf.orgI would love to talk to you about what it means to “hold Eagle’s Nest in trust”.

Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director 

FEB. 24, 2017

To Walk with Intention and Awareness: A Glimpse of a Weekend at Buffalo Cove

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“…. At one period of the earth’s history there was a kind of ‘earthly paradise,’ in the sense that there was a perfectly harmonious and perfectly natural life: the manifestation of Mind was in accord – was still in complete accord – and in total harmony with the ascending march of Nature, without perversion or deformation. This was the first stage of Mind’s manifestation in material forms.” (The Mother’s “Agenda”, Vol 2)

This past weekend, Outdoor Academy Semester 44 students had the privilege of experiencing the power of connectedness to the Earth, and learn a lot about themselves as well, during their recent trip to Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center, outside of Boone, North Carolina.

Nathan Rourke, director of Buffalo Cove, has deep roots within Eagle’s Nest Foundation dating back to developing the Paleo Man adventures for summer camp and being on faculty during the initial years of OA and the Birch Tree program.  His daughter, Maddie, is a current student at OA and they have practiced and refined their skills of living sustainably and harmoniously with the Earth, dating back to Nathan’s teenage years.

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OA and Buffalo Cove have forged this partnership throughout the years, instilling virtues and values within each organization with a three-day trip for each semester.  In exchange for his staff teaching earth skills lessons (stalking, bowl burning, fire by friction, shelter-building, etc.), OA students practice their work ethic principle through work crews, building trails, setting beams for structures, lopping, and helping in permaculture gardens.

Upon their return, students write reflection papers for Outdoor Education class.  Here are a few excerpts:

“Nathan does a great job of giving an explanation of WHY we are doing every work crew, so it feels more meaningful and powerful.”

“It felt good to dance around the fire on Saturday evening, not bound by judgement, and it allowed our community to begin the process of breaking down our walls to allow us to flourish.”

“Awareness was a constant theme of the weekend.  Awareness of yourself, your mind, the full moon, the cool breeze in the valley and others, is such a powerful piece.  The world is much larger than ourselves, and yet we get bound to this at times.”

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Each semester I reach out to Nathan and his wonderful staff before each trip to Buffalo Cove, and speak to the community needs of each OA semester and what I hope for them to come away with.  He does an amazing job of framing each activity.  His program intentional and grounded, and students always come away with a powerful transformative experience.  Whether it be howling at the moon, drumming around a fire, dressing a rabbit, learning how animals stalk prey, or cooking over an open fire, Buffalo Cove is always exactly what each semester needs at exactly the right time.

Lucas Newton, Outdoor Education Manager

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. 8, 2017

Conflict Resolution 101

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What do you do when you have a disagreement with someone? What if that person was in many of your classes at school, did chores with you, and slept in the bunk next to yours? Learning how to resolve interpersonal conflict is a skill we teach early on at OA. The honeymoon phase only lasts a few weeks, and then it is completely normal for any group to enter into sibling-like behavior, which can include not only great fun and laughter, but also some squabbling and eye-rolling. With principles such as Integrity and Self-Reliance, not to mention a cornerstone of Community, we value timely, compassionate, assertive and empathetic feedback as a way to keep our community healthy and happy.

Last weekend, students learned and then practiced how to give and receive feedback. They learned how to use “I” statements, choose an accurate feeling word, explain why they felt a certain way, and follow it with a request. The finished product might sound something like this: “I felt disrespected tonight when you laughed during my dinner announcement, because I was already nervous and I needed your support. Next time will you please not laugh when I’m speaking in front of the group?” This clear, concise way of communicating allows the speaker to share her or his experience of the situation, while eliminating a blaming, shaming tone usually found in “you” statements. Students also learned how to VOMP, which is a conflict resolution style used for more intense disagreements. VOMPing is a back-and-forth conversation that goes through four steps. The first step is Voice, where one person shares her or his side of the argument, while the other person listens. The second step is for each person to Own her or his part of the argument, acknowledging anything that she or he might have done to add to the disagreement. The third step is to share eMpathy for what the other person experienced, talking through what it might have been like for that person, such as what that person might have been feeling. During the eMpathy step, the discussion usually softens and both participants are allowed the space to feel the vulnerability of the other. Finally, the two participants make a Plan in order to avoid further miscommunications. These are challenging skills to master, but it is our hope to build a culture of feedback and respect during the OA semester by taking the risk to deal with things directly. It is important for students to feel empowered to offer and receive feedback from all members of the community in order for each of us to move towards becoming the best “self” we can be.

Susan Daily, Dean of Students