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JUL. 19, 2013

Growth Through Adventure

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By Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director

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Photo Caption: The Huck Finn group enjoying a lovely evening by the river

Camp is a pretty big adventure for most of our campers. It’s exciting for them to pack up their trunks and head to the mountains for 2-3 weeks. While they are here they meet new people, eat healthy (and sometimes new) foods, they try new activities – some of which are a little out of their comfort zones, and they grow in independence and confidence.

As campers grow in age and experience at Eagle’s Nest, many find themselves ready for bigger adventures. Luckily, our program grows with our campers. For these campers we offer Added Adventures. These 1-week long adventures within the session give the campers a chance to leave camp for an adventure with 7 – 9 other campers there age. This summer we offered three Added Adventure: Appalachian Adventure during Session 1 where the campers spent 6 days on a backpacking and rock climbing adventure; Huck Finn, where the campers spent a week floating down the French Broad River on a wooden raft; and this session Sea Islands, where the campers will spend a week on Cumberland Island, soaking up the sunshine and learning about beach ecology.

This morning we sent the Sea Islands crew off at 7:00 AM. They have a long drive to the coast of Georgia. Tomorrow morning they’ll board a ferry to Cumberland Island where they will camp, fish, cast net, tell stories under the stars, and learn more about camping and each other. They were all smiles as they loaded their crab trap into the bus this morning. I know that they were probably a little nervous about the week ahead, but they were also so ready for the next step of their growth at Eagle’s Nest.

I’m already looking forward to welcoming our Sea Islands campers back next Friday. I know they’ll be a little tanner and that their eyes will sparkle a little when they star telling us their stories. I’m sure that we’ll hear things about stories of the armadillo that showed up at their camp, or about the time they burned the oatmeal, or the fish that got away. Their stories will be about the fun times, and also about the more challenging times; they will ALL be stories of growth through adventure.

JUL. 5, 2013

Up-date from Appalachian Trail Trek Session 2

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By Lucas Newton, Hante Adventures Coordinator

Yesterday I was able to connect with the AT Trek Virginia Hante, deep in the beautiful woods of Jefferson National Forest.  After a four-mile drive up a gravel forest service road, passing through the luscious deciduous forests of tulip, oak and beech trees, I finally reached the group’s campsite right off of the road.  They all came running, thrilled with the thought of resupply of food, fuel and gear.  I surprised them with a dozen glazed Dunkin Donuts and mail from home.  Their shrieks and words seemed to blend together for one amazing cacophonous moment, it was priceless.

The group reached their resupply destination early, enabling campers to take some nice solo time around the campsite, writing letters, whittling spoons, and just taking time to appreciate their natural environment they have been immersed in.

The group has really come together as one quickly, and each and every camper has been challenged at some point during their journey thus far.  As I was talking with them, they were telling me all about the “magic” and epic stories thus far.  Whether it be running freely in the lovely grassy meadows of Virginia, snapping their food bag rope, or having a deer follow them around their campsite, they have definitely been living well together in the woods.

They were happy to reach what has been described as the nicest shelter on the entire AT last night, where the group got hot showers, a sink to wash clothes, clean bathroom, and one of the cleanest shelters I have seen on the AT as well.  They were baking an apple pie later that evening, in honor of the 4th of July coming up in a few days.

Having now hiked 46 of their intended 100 miles thus far, campers are taking on a much larger role/responsibility within the group.  Campers were setting up their own tarps, cooking meals, and filtering water on their own.  Despite the rains, the group was in high spirits and ready to continue on their journey.