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MAR. 22, 2019

Welcome Spring

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I’m sure that many of you know that this past Wednesday was the Vernal Equinox marking the official start of spring. In parts of North Carolina, including on the Eagle’s Nest campus, daffodils are popping out of the ground, trees are blooming and bees are beginning to buzz from flower to flower in search of pollen and nectar. I find that this time of year when the days begin to get longer and the sun is warmer is met with joy, hope and excitement – especially for those of us who love the summer and the adventures (at camp and on Hante) that it promises.

But what is the Vernal Equinox anyway? Is it the day that brooms can stand on their own or that eggs can balance? While that may happen (did anyone try it?) in the Northern Hemisphere the Vernal Equinox is the period of year when the sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. This event usually occurs on March 20th or 21st. On the Equinox the Southern and Northern Hemispheres receive equal amounts of sun light and day and night are about equal in length. The days that started growing longer at the Winter Solstice will continue to grow longer until the Summer Solstice in June. We’ll have more hours of daylight to enjoy watching nature come alive after the dormant winter.

Did you also know that this year the Vernal Equinox coincided with the Super Worm Moon, known by astronomers as a Perigean full moon? This is the first times since 2000 and the last time before 2030 that these two events occurred simultaneously. A Perigean Moon occurs when a full moon reaches its closest point to the earth in its elliptical orbit making it appear larger and brighter. If you were out around 9:30 on Wednesday night and spied the moon I can imagine that you experienced a bit of awe, just as I did. According to folklore, the March moon is dubbed the “Worm Moon” because occurs in during the time of year when the earth begins to thaw and the earthworms begin to emerge.

So what does all of this mean and how does it affect us? I imagine that some people might question if it was a lucky day to buy a lottery ticket or if some other great opportunity might present itself on such a celestial event. For me, it offered another opportunity to experience the wonder and beauty of nature and to appreciate science. At Eagle’s Nest Camp we are fortunate to live on a campus that encompasses nearly 200 acres of land – most of which is in a conservation easement. We explore the woods, creeks and surrounding mountains and rivers daily. We hear that sounds of nature as we drift into sleep and before the sun rises the next morning. It’s easy to connect to the natural world all around us. That’s not as easy to do in other areas like cities whose lights can drown out the stars or have few trees. But I have found that we can always look to the sun and the moon to reconnect to the grandeur of nature. I hope that wherever you are you’ve had a chance to appreciate the coming of spring and the Super Moon that accompanied it.

By Paige Lester-Niles, Photo Credit Julee Nunley

MAR. 8, 2019

New Assistant Camp Director – Mims Montgomery

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Eagle’s Nest is very excited to welcome Mims Montgomery as our new Assistant Camp Director. Mims brings a breadth of experience in summer camps and as a field instructor for Moondance Adventures – leading trips to Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and Wyoming. Most recently Mims worked as the Wilderness Tripping Director at Camp Wavus in Maine. Mims is a Registered Maine Guide and is also certified as an American Canoe Instructor. In addition to her passion for the outdoors, Mims is also very invested in teaching kindness and respect to children and staff. As our Assistant Camp Director Mims will be responsible for helping to create and oversee the wilderness classes in camp as well as all of the Added Adventure and Hante programs. Mims loves helping children connect with nature.

I recently asked Mims a little more about what excites her about working at Eagle’s Nest Camp and Hante Adventures:

What have you enjoyed so far about working at Eagle’s Nest?

  • Mims: Oh, there is so much! Everyone here is so friendly! I love driving in everyday and seeing the beautiful mountains all around Eagle’s Nest.

What are you excited about doing this summer?

  • Mims: I get excited about planning the logistics that will help get people out on trips into nature. I’m looking forward to getting kids and staff excited about being outside in this beautiful place.

What do you enjoy about being a leader in a busy summer camp?

  • Mims: It’s summer camp! What’s not to love? I truly enjoy the fast-paced, loud, and fun environment of a summer camp. I attended a summer camp growing up and being a part of paying it forward to campers brings me joy.

Do you have any secret talents that you will surprise us with this summer?

  • Mims: I used to be on a traveling jump rope team. I still have some moves. My big move was jumping rope while on a pogo stick.

Mims started work in late February and was able to have some training time with Marlin Sill before he sets off on a planned thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in April. She and her husband Tyler, their son Griffin and dog Luna are looking forward to their first summer at Eagle’s Nest. I know that you will all looking forward to meeting Mims (and hopefully seeing her jump roping skills) soon.

By Paige Lester-Niles

FEB. 8, 2019

The Making of a Strong Community

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Each summer our community at camp is created anew with young people and staff from across the U.S. and as far away as countries such as Australia, England, Japan, and Italy. We come from cities, rural areas, and small towns hoping to make new friends and reconnect with old.  For some of us, this is a summer tradition that has carried on for generations, for others it is a first foray into time away from home without family.  Every summer new memories are created, skill sets and confidence grow, and our network of “Nest friends” expands.

Our unique and special community at camp would not be what it is without Eagle’s Nest’s ability to provide financial assistance to those who may not otherwise be able to afford or fully afford 1, 2 or 3 weeks at a residential summer camp.  Each year we budget to grant scholarships amounting to nearly $115,000 from our operating fund.  Our loyal donors and supporters make another $35,000 in aid possible with their generous donations.  Many of those donations come from campers themselves who know in their heart what it means to have this experience and want to do their part in making the community strong.

Every summer approximately 20% of our campers receive some level of financial assistance through our Campership Program. We believe that financial status should not be a deterrent to fulfilling a child’s dream to make that leap and expand their horizon in a safe, supporting, joyful and challenging environment.  To be able to come to a place where each person can sink deeply into the natural world, know that they are an important cog in the community wheel, and grow into their best self.

We are so grateful to our extended Eagle’s Nest family who makes these dreams come true.  Thank you for believing and supporting the power of a community that is made up of folks from all walks of life.  If your dream is to be at Eagle’s Nest this summer and you need some help to make it come true, we have our last financial aid application deadline on February 15thWe’ll do all we can to bring that dream to reality.

By Noni Waite-Kucera

JAN. 25, 2019

Selecting Stellar Staff

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Each year, Eagle’s Nest is fortunate to have a stellar team of staff who are passionate about sharing their love of the outdoors with youth.  We take pride in the quality of our instructors and carefully assemble our team each summer with staff from varied backgrounds.  Many of our staff are in college studying to become educators and many of them grew up in the Eagle’s Nest community, as campers, Hante Adventures participants, Junior Counselors, and students at The Outdoor Academy.  We love to see our program participants excited to give back to their community as staff members.  Regardless of the number of years each staff member has spent in the Eagle’s Nest community, each person is a unique, creative, mature, and loving individual who dedicates their summer to educating and empowering our campers.

Our hiring process meets or exceeds the American Camp Association’s national standards for staff screening.  For every American staff member, we require them to complete a written application, video conference interview with our Camp Director, and to submit two written references and one phone reference.  Eagle’s Nest completes a background check through National Background Investigations on every staff member.  International staff members are pre-screened through J1 visa sponsors.  These organizations conduct in-person interviews, background checks and reference checks.  Eagle’s Nest reviews this information along with their written applications.  International staff members also participate in a video conference interview with our Camp Director.

Every summer staff member participates in our orientation program at the beginning of the season.  This time period provides a space for staff to receive in-person training on teaching skills, risk management, and supporting the growth and development of youth. In advance of their arrival at orientation, staff receive a manual containing Eagle’s Nest’s risk management policies and procedures and we review these policies and procedures extensively during training.

Orientation includes learning to address mental, emotional, and social health needs of the children.  Staff are taught to recognize these needs and provide care to ensure participants are in a safe and inclusive environment at all times.  This training also addresses the importance of recognizing signs of and reporting child abuse, ensuring staff members understand their role as mandatory reporters, and planning ahead to prevent situations in which a staff member is alone with a camper.

To ensure we are providing the best care for your camper, all staff members are at least 18 years old.  Our cabin counselors and program leadership have completed at least one year of life experience beyond high school. All staff on campus are certified, at a minimum, in CPR and First Aid and many of our wilderness staff members hold higher wilderness medical training including Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder certifications.

Eagle’s Nest provides a nurturing and supportive environment for growth of our participants and our staff members.  Counselors and instructors frequently receive feedback and evaluations from the administrative team to help them become stronger caregivers and educators.  Stay tuned in the coming months to learn more about our 2019 Summer Staff. To read about the 2018 Summer Staff and our Full Time Administrative Team, visit our website.

By Sara Gerall

JAN. 11, 2019

What Goals Will You Achieve in 2019?

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The New Year is here and the winter holidays have passed in a flash of friends, family, celebrations, cards, sledding, and too many sweets. On the night before saying goodbye to vacation to go back to work and my typical routine, I found a little time to sit down with my journal and reflect on the things I would like to achieve in the coming year. My list includes spending more time in nature, continuing to cultivate gratitude in my life, and making more time for reflection and peacefulness.

During our staff orientation we typically spend a fair amount of time setting “SMART Goals” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) for our work with our campers. Throughout the summer, counselors work with campers and Hante participants to help them achieve their goals – passing the swimming test, learning to ride a horse, getting over their fear of camping in the woods, being a good friend, etc. Year round, members of the fulltime staff at Eagle’s Nest Foundation work enthusiastically to help realize our mission: “experiential education for young people, promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character.” Goals help us grow.

As you head into the New Year, congratulate yourself for the past successes that you have had with your goals and growth. Small achievements need to be celebrated; even if you haven’t mastered archery, you’re probably a much better shot now for the work that you put into reaching that goal.

When you consider your goals for 2019, I hope that you’ll spend time thinking about how those goals will help not only you, but also those around you and your greater community. For example, if it’s feasible, set a goal to walk or ride your bike to school or work more frequently. As a result, you’ll get a little more exercise, spend more time outside, save some money, and reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it. Or maybe you’ll want to set a goal to seek solutions to challenges rather than venting and complaining when things are not going your way. Who knows what great innovation your brainstorming might create!

I wish you all great luck in reaching many, many goals this year.

We would love to hear what goals our campers are setting this year too!  What do you have planned for 2019? Will your time at the Nest or on a Hante Adventure help you work toward your goal? Share your ambitions with your social network and the Eagle’s Nest community by tagging us on Facebook or Instagram, @eaglesnestcampnc and @hanteadventures.

By Paige Lester-Niles

DEC. 13, 2018

The Splendid Table Family

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I love the end of the year because it presents multiple opportunities for everyone to come together and these gatherings usually include food.  I am always excited to share the fruits of my yearly baking extravaganza and to laugh, sing, celebrate, and be joyful as I prepare meals with friends and family.

At Eagle’s Nest, sharing meals and understanding where our food comes from is an integral part of creating community.  After parents leave on Opening Day, the first things campers and staff do is meet their table families. Table families are a group of six campers and two staff members who sit together at every meal throughout the session.   All of our meals are family style. Once everyone is served, you can hear the clinking of glasses as each table toasts the start of the meal. They bond through the shared experience of a hearty, healthy meal where campers are encouraged to try new foods, discuss their successes and challenges, and share interesting dreams with the group. Many campers agree that their table family is the closest community they have at Eagle’s Nest.

Campers also contribute to both meal preparation and clean up at Eagle’s Nest.  Throughout the session, each camper will have the opportunity to help our baker make bread for the entire community, bring compost down to the garden, harvest vegetables with our garden manager, and clean up after meals.

As Winter Break draws near, I want to encourage you to spend some time with your camper in the kitchen. Invite your camper to help you chop vegetables as you cook dinner or to lend a hand as you roll out that holiday cookie dough.  Cooking with your child teaches general awareness in the kitchen, and how to safely operate knives, stoves, and ovens. This is a great time to talk about the importance of healthy, balanced diets and to share stories of family recipes and traditions from your childhood.

Below, I have included two recipes from the Eagle’s Nest Cookbook for you to try with your camper. The first is an Eagle’s Nest Camp closing night dish, Spanakopita, a Greek spinach and cheese filled pastry.  This is a favorite among campers and staff! The second, a granola bar recipe,  you can make with your camper and wrap up for their lunch boxes in the New Year to share with their peers at school.

By Sara Gerall