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APR. 18, 2019

Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Gibson

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Jonathan Gibson was an Eagle’s Nest Camp and Hante Adventures leader for 5 summers in 2003 – 2007 while he was a student at Duke University. During his summers at camp, Jonathan taught wilderness classes and was a cabin counselor for the Cabin 7 boys. He led several Hantes (including the first and only Huck Finn Hante) and also served as the Assistant Program Manager. Since leaving Eagle’s Nest Jonathan has continued to work as an experiential educator. These days Jonathan is living in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter, and is a faculty member at Wayfinding Academy, a  two year college that helps students discover who they are and what they are passionate about.

How did your time at Eagle’s Nest shape what you are doing today?

At Eagle’s Nest I learned the importance of intentional living. I also gained a love and respect for myself and others, and an understanding of how a community can really support people. These have become core values of mine. At Wayfinding Academy my role is to intentionally create a community for new students and to teach “Wayfinding 101” – a 12-week course during which we focus on who we are and what we want to be – many of the things that I learned at Eagle’s Nest.

What are some of your most memorable experiences from your time at Eagle’s Nest?

There are so many! My first summer at Eagle’s Nest I led a Hante. When I arrived for the Hante training clinic I didn’t know anyone. That night, three of the people I met took me on a night hike on campus and we went through the small underground tunnel near Three Falls. It was magical! Over the years at Eagle’s Nest there were many other magical moments.

What are some of your favorite things to do?

I love hiking, being outdoors and connecting with friends. I have a 4-year-old and I love taking her into nature.

To learn more about Jonathan’s work, check out this TedTalk of Wayfinding Academy’s president and founder Michelle Jones.

Are you an Eagle’s Nest Camp or Hante Adventures alum? Did your time at Eagle’s Nest have an influence on what you’re doing today? Do you want to share your story? Contact Paige at paige@enf.org or by calling the office at 336-761-1040. I’d love to catch up and hear what you’re doing!

By Paige Lester-Niles

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

MAY. 18, 2018

Wilderness Programming: Parent Orientation Series

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Programming at Eagle’s Nest promotes learning and growth. Campers can begin their journey at Eagle’s Nest as young as first grade and remain here through their senior year of high school.  Our goal as a program is to provide meaningful opportunities to embrace a sense of independence, discover the joy of meaningful community, and strengthen leadership skills.  In our latest video of our Parent Orientation series, Assistant Camp Director, Marlin Sill speaks about growth through Eagle’s Nest’s wilderness programming.

Learn more about wilderness programming in our Added Adventures and Hante Adventures.

MAY. 11, 2018

The Benefits of Camp: Parent Orientation Series

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Talk to anyone who went to camp as a child and they will tell you about the lifelong friends and memories they made.  In addition to the friendships, camp is a powerful place for young children to grow and develop.  Our Camp Director, Paige Lester-Niles is here to talk with you about just some of the many benefits of camp.

MAY. 11, 2017

Mothers Everywhere

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This pretty planet spinning through space,
You’re a garden, you’re a harbor, 
You’re a holy place,

Golden sun going down,
Gentle blue giant spin us around.

All through the night, safe ’til the morning light.

(Tom Chapin)

As we head into Mother’s Day this weekend I have been thinking about all the mothers there are in this world.  In my backyard there is a Barred Owl mom helping to raise her three young ones.  In my flower box on the patio is a Carolina Wren mom darting in and out carrying insects to her brood.  In the hanging gourd on the front porch is a Black Capped Chickadee flitting about with morsels of food to deliver to her nestlings swinging gently in their home.  On cool clear nights I can hear the coyote mom down the road with a new litter of pups all yipping and howling as the hunt takes off.

All over this pretty planet are mothers of every species, going about their lives, raising young ones and tending to work that needs to be done.  It is amazing to think of the diversity that is spread from one end of this “gentle blue giant” to the other. This weekend, as we honor our own mothers, take some time to think about honoring our bigger mother, our planet, our Mother Earth.  Without her being in good health, we would not be who we are or get to enjoy co-existing with the moms of thousands and thousands of other species all living in this garden, this harbor.

If you’re wondering about the lyrics above, they were written by Tom Chapin and we used to sing this song at camp – might be time to bring it back this summer.  You can start practicing now and be ready!

Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director 

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.