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MAR. 31, 2017

REVEALED! The Origins of Big Lex

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Found at the Museum of Long Lost Facts, [1] the true story of Big Lex has been unearthed…

The year was 1927 and it was gray and drizzly day when Mildred was on a fishing expedition at Lake Junaluska, just over the mountain from Eagle’s Nest.  She was on the dock with her friend Dolly, hoping to catch a little something for dinner.  They were having no luck until she decided to use her secret cookie brownie recipe for bait.  As you can imagine, it was difficult to get the crumbly delectable on the hook so she dipped a small portion in milk and pressed it together into a ball.

The first cast went out, nothing.   A bigger ball of secret cookie brownie recipe was sunk onto the hook.  Second cast went and WHAM.  Mildred hit the deck, arms flung over the edge of the dock holding on for dear life to that fishing pole.  Her friend Dolly grabbed her feet and they heaved the line back to shore, dragging it through a swirling school of fish.  There to their disbelieving eyes but what should appear, the great, great grandmother of Big Lex, Big Bertha (see figure 1).

How do we know this is the great, great grandmother of Big Lex?  At the same moment as Big Bertha landed on the shore, an osprey swooped down and snagged one of the smaller fish right before their very eyes (see figure 2).

Big Lex Blog Post Picture 3

Figure 2 – Osprey and Big Bertha

An hour later, across the mountain, Cabin 1 girls were at the Fishing Pond when in glided an osprey carrying that very same fish.  And believe it or not, that fish was still alive.  The osprey dropped that fish, still carrying the secret cookie brownie recipe bait ball in its mouth*.

To this day, the ancestors of Big Bertha live strong at Eagle’s Nest.

*And yes, that is how ChoChos came to be as well.

Investigators Cecilia Kucera and Noni Waite-Kucera

[1] Museum of Long Lost Facts. Exhibition: Fish and other creatures. March 30. 2017.

MAY. 4, 2015

Extreme Makeover Arts and Crafts Edition: The Making of a Makerspace

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Krista White, Camp Program Manager

This year I have been inspired by several people who are helping to create the Makerspace movement. It all started when Sara Nichols, a camper parent, sent us a TED Talk by Gever Tulley called Life lessons through tinkering and 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do.  With the deeper goal of building the self-realization that you can figure things out by fooling around, children at Tulley’s camp the Tinkering School are trusted with real tools and materials and then trusted not to hurt themselves or others while making things.  I then attended Laura Kriegel and Jack Schott’s session on Makerspaces at the American Camp Association National conference where they asked “What if arts and crafts at camp could unlock for kids that they can do make or be anything they want with their lives?”  Kriegel described a make space as a place where kids are free to engage in meaningful, self-chosen work to develop and practice skills that lead to competence.  I was inspired and thought, “We need one of these at Eagle’s Nest!” Thus the extreme makeover began.

At the end of summer any remaining supplies get straightened up and placed into the Arts and Crafts supply closet which is then closed until spring when I return to restock our arts supplies.


This spring when I opened the closet it seemed that a family of squirrels had turned our closet into a happening hotel.


Luckily for us, I had planned for a renovation.  I purchased my usual stockpile of replenishing supplies as well as a variety of clear containers with lids.The first step was to clear everything out and then wash it down. I was thankful to have some help on clean out day from a Recreation Management student, Summer Allen.


Ta da! For the next step I had some help from one of our favorite Arts and Craft instructors, Cissy Byrd, as we set to work recycling and trashing spent supplies.


We organized materials and crafts into like piles and placed them into labeled containers.


Many hours later our supply closet makeover was complete.  But what about the makerspace you ask?


I placed all of our resource books on shelves outside of the “counselors only” closet so that campers can easily reach them and be inspired.  The containers below were filled with supplies that campers can access and easily use for their creations. I also collected a few baskets of interesting items from around camp including camera parts, tent poles, springs, an incredible amount of beaded necklaces, and other fun things.

My hope is that this makerspace, along with the rest of our camp programing, will inspire our campers to do make or be whatever they want.

Krista White, Camp Program Manager

AUG. 8, 2013

Eagle’s Nest Camp is Always Home

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By Paige Lester -Niles, Camp Director

The other night at the Square Dance I had the chance to spend a little time talking with one of our new campers. He had noticed that another boy in his cabin was having a little trouble with homesickness and was telling me that he hoped the boy would feel better soon. I asked the camper how he was doing and if he was enjoying his first year at camp. He quickly responded that he was a little homesick the first day at camp, but that now Eagle’s Nest felt like “home away from home” for him. I smiled, and laughed a little to myself; it was only Wednesday!

People have been calling Eagle’s Nest home for over 85 years now. Each year I hear about campers counting down the days until they can “come home again”. Throughout the year, I also get emails or hear stories from former campers who tell me that Eagle’s Nest felt like home for them. I know it is home for me. And I think that the reason that we feel so at home here is because we spend so much time working on creating a strong community where everyone has a place, each individual is important, and we all know that we belong.

On the same day that we had the Square Dance, I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet an 85-year-old woman who was a camper here in the 30ties. Her eyes lit up when we walked down the Quad and she saw that the cabin lay out, and even the landscaping of the trees, was the same as it was when she was a camper. And she was so excited to be back at camp and to see the Old Lodge, which she says looks exactly the way it looked when she was a camper here. As we were chatting, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a little bracelet. When she opened her hand and showed it to me, I was amazed to see that it had “ENC” across the front. She had received the bracelet when she was a camper, many, many years ago. It touched me to see that she still treasures a bracelet that she received when she was about 10-years-old. Obviously, Eagle’s Nest is home to her too..

AUG. 7, 2013

A Special Visitor at Eagle’s Nest

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By Krista White, Registrar

ENF Camp Foal

This session Eagle’s Nest was lucky to have a very special visitor, a foal.  For those of you who don’t know, a foal is a baby horse.  This one was two days old and visiting from Kyle our property manager’s farm.  Horseback riders and non-horseback riders alike came down to the barn to meet this very special guest.  It was a wonder to watch her nurse and sleep, and explore her new world.

At first she was nervous to leave her mother’s side, but as time went on she became more confident.  Like many of our campers, as she was brave enough to step away from her mother’s side to try something new.  She learned to give kisses to campers and step in puddles, gaining balance and poise as the hours passed.  It was amazing to watch and learn from the simple interactions between mother and foal as she calmly yet observantly watched her foal grow.   When the time came for our little visitor to return home as mama was loading onto the trailer, the foal trotted back to the barn, not wanting to leave.

If you stay for a week or an hour, Eagle’s Nest has that something that makes you want to stay forever.  That foal will continue growing and learning and one day it may come back to the nest to help teach campers once again.

AUG. 5, 2013

Air Guitar

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Last night, all of the cabins performed air guitar skits for the whole camp. Many of them dressed up in costumes, some of them wore face paint, ALL of them had big smiles on their faces. Throughout the evening of performances the Old Lodge was filled with laughter and applause.

Air Guitar is a long standing tradition at Eagle’s Nest. For many years now our campers have been performing these skits with their cabins on the first or second night of camp. I love these performances, and not just because the kids are so cute while they are performing. I love them because they help our campers settle in and grow in many different ways.

The first day of camp can make even the most veteran campers a little nervous, so it’s important to have some structured group activities that day. We like for those activities to be initiatives that give the campers a chance to get to know each other, learn to work together, and have fun. Creating and practicing an air guitar skit certainly fits those requirements.

We also want children to step out of their comfort zone a bit while they are at camp. For many campers, stepping up on stage in a silly costume, in front of the whole camp can be a challenge. Being greeted by thunderous applause and praise reassures campers that it pays off to take risks.

Finally, it’s also important for our campers to recognize that they are part of a community. Performing on stage with their cabin group helps them feel more connected to their new bunk mates and to the entire camp.

JUL. 24, 2013

Finding Our Place – Tribal Unity at Camp

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By Liz Synder, Assistant Director

Camp Tribal Unity

When the Twilight bell rang yesterday evening, campers and staff gathered in tribal groups throughout campus. I made my way down to the lake to join the Wohelo women in embracing our element – the water. As I emerged from the lake trail, I was met by the sight and sound of chanting buffaloes in the soft light of late day. Smiles covered the faces of everyone as we came together on the dock as a herd, a tribe, a family within the larger camp community.

We formed two long lines along the dock facing each other. One by one, each Wohelo made her way through the tunnel of cheers and encouragement and into the water. I was overwhelmed with pride as I watched each member of our tribe, ranging in age from 7 to 29, dive in with confidence. It must’ve shown on my face, because a JC turned to me and said, “Liz, I’m so glad you’re a buff – you’ve really found your place here.”

Those words resounded in my mind as we walked silently to a grassy area on the other side of the lake. A single cloud rolled in overhead and a steady rain began to fall, accompanied by a striking rainbow and cool breeze. We sat together, faces turned upward to the sky, embracing the summer shower and sharing words about the strength we find in our tribe. We agreed that we feel at home as Wohelos – that we’ve found our place at camp and beyond. We spoke about the unspoken bond that exists when we meet other buffaloes and shared wisdom and gratitude that have been passed down for years and years.

To those who have not been campers or staff at Eagle’s Nest, tribal unity and pride may be a bit difficult to understand. That was certainly the case for me my first summer here, but once I joined the buffaloes I felt an almost immediate sense of place and belonging. I quickly realized that tribes are much more than teams during Capture the Flag or a specific place to sit at Indian Village. They are family and strength, and more than anything, a group of people who simply “get” each other. It gives me such joy to know that each new camper will find their place in one of four tribes this summer and that those coming back to the Nest will return to their people and place on the Medicine Wheel. I only hope that they will experience the undeniable connection to each member of their tribe, young and old, that I do with mine.