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MAR. 3, 2015

New Neighbors? Maybe you could be Ours!

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Cain Cox, Eagle’s Nest Trustee

Over the past 88 years, Eagle’s Nest has seen a lot of change in the Little River Valley. More is coming, right alongside our campus. Recently, the owners of a 31-acre tract along our border put their land up for sale. This property has beautiful long range views of the valley, a nice road already cut in, many wonderful building sites, and of course the most amazing next door neighbor!

ENF has worked for many years to help preserve and protect the rural feeling of the Little River Valley. Teaching our campers and students the importance of being good stewards to our land and community has been a key aspect of our mission to promote the natural world and the betterment of human character. As part of our long range planning, we have worked diligently for the last three years to place 100 acres of our own campus under a conservation easement. This measure will ensure that we protect our streams, forests, and fields for future generations. It will also help us create another teaching tool. As the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy assesses our land and monitors our management of it, our own campers and students will participate in the work of exploring and documenting its natural features.

3 - Top of Road toward Cascade Lake

Given the centrality of careful, informed land stewardship to our work, ENF knows the importance of good neighbors. So the Foundation is reaching out to our larger community with this news of transition—and opportunity—on our southern flank. Do you or someone you know have an interest in owning 31 beautiful acres next to a thoughtful and vibrant neighbor like Eagle’s Nest? The property would make an ideal private estate or could perhaps be subdivided into several parcels.

If you are interested, email ENF Trustee Cain Cox at or call her at (828) 242-7707.

Cain Cox, Eagle’s Nest Trustee

NOV. 24, 2014

Share The Magic

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Cecily Timmons, Development Director

As Thanksgiving – our national day to celebrate all we have – and #GivingTuesday – our global day to celebrate giving back – approach, we are reminded to be thoughtful of where we are and who or what helped us get there.

Eagle’s Nesters have always been gratitude-centric. Gratitude lives at the heart of all we do: gratitude to our earth, our community, and ourselves. In this season of thanks and gratitude, consider your place within the Eagle’s Nest and OA community. Did you find magic on Hart Road?

McKinnley Cox, an alumna of all of our programs here at Eagle’s Nest,  kicks off our #ENFsharethemagic campaign by telling her story, the story of what Eagle’s Nest and OA have meant to her.  Stop for a moment now to watch her story, and as you do, think about yours. Was your camp experience special? Did you learn to do brave things through Hante? Did OA empower you or give you confidence?

We invite you to share your story with us and your wider Eagle’s Nest community. We will post more video stories over the next few weeks, here, on Facebook, our YouTube channel, and on our website. I hope that you will join in the fun!

Cecily Timmons, Development Director


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SEP. 30, 2014

Precious Spaces Everywhere You Go

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Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director

One of my favorite places on Eagle’s Nest campus is our garden – full of life, energy and potential at every turn. Ryan, our Garden Manager has been doing a beautiful job of creating a menagerie of gardening beds, each one utilizing a different technique, a different amount of space or special growing mediums suited to very particular needs. I have been thrilled with what our campers and students have learning about composting, soil enhancement, planting, weeding (yes lots of weeding), harvesting and preservation. These skills they are learning are easily carried home to create gardens both large and small.

This month I have been traveling a good bit connecting with Eagle’s Nesters across the Southeast and I had a terrific find in the middle of Washington, DC where I least expected it. There, in the shadows of the Washington Cathedral was a precious space, very like our garden at Eagle’s Nest, called the Newark Street Garden. I was totally enthralled with this eclectic array of small plots, each one hosting a different pattern, plants, artwork, insect life and so much more. In my three day stay I rambled through these gardens each day taking in the beauty and the potential of all that was there. By the end of my DC stay I was ready to head back to Eagle’s Nest with new energy for encouraging our campers and students to be that person who has a garden at their home or who helps to start a community garden in their neighborhood. Next time you are at Eagle’s Nest head on down to our precious space and get inspired for what you can do!

garden 5

garden 3

garden 2

MAR. 19, 2014

A Gathering of Minds, Eagle’s Nest Plans for It’s Centennial

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Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director

They came from the East with bright, new day energy and vision.  They came from the South full of compassion and sense of place.  They came from the West, with introspection and reflection.  They came from the North, bearing years of wisdom. 

As an Eagle’s Nest community of trustees, faculty and staff we gathered March 14-16 to plan and set priorities for our organization as we approach 100 years old.  It was a remarkable 3 days of reflecting upon the input gathered at each of the 15 stakeholder gatherings held across the country last fall, the research conducted by staff, faculty and trustees and the years of experience collectively held by all those in attendance.  Through a myriad of exercises that our consultants had prepared for us sprang a set of four overarching priorities for us to accomplish in the next 13 years:

  • Empower a Community of Educators
  • Cultivate and Celebrate our Place
  • Engage the World in our Story
  • Build Financial Resiliency

Within each of those of those priorities are many individual action items that you will hear about in the weeks to come.  Our next step is for the staff to take our priorities and organize them into a draft timeline for approval by the Board of Trustees at the July meeting.

I can say that this weekend together just south of Atlanta was inspirational, energizing and full of promise for our school and camp that we hold so dearly.   I am very grateful to everyone who participated in the pre-work leading up to the retreat, of which there are hundreds, and to those who worked so diligently last weekend to put it all together.  This is just the beginning of some very exciting work!      

JAN. 22, 2014

Thoughts from an Eagle’s Nest Trustee

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by Jean Cohen

I’m an ENF Trustee now and I get to go to Eagle’s Nest three times a year for our meetings.   Every time I head up the driveway to the Salt Mines parking lot, I’m reminded of the many summers I drove into camp to pick up my own children on the last day of Session Two.   I was always struck by my first glimpse of them after three weeks away.  They looked incredibly happy, a little bit older, excited to see us, but always sad to be leaving camp for another year.   They seemed confident, and moved easily through the Quad, hugging other campers and counselors goodbye for the year.   The five hundred mile drive home to DC was always wonderful as the kids shared their stories of camp adventures, Giving Day, table families, and counselors, all while they pored over Smoke Signals and the song book.

A session at Eagle’s Nest is a wonderful opportunity to give children the time and space to grow and have an important experience in independence, group living and self-reliance.  For most children, it is their first extended period of time away from their parents.   For many, camp is a first opportunity to take care of their own possessions.  It is a first chance for children to manage relationships without having parents navigating, and a great opportunity to realize that though they may miss their parents, they are happy and thrive without them.

As parents, our job is to help our children become independent, self reliant and resilient.  Summer camp is an important opportunity for children to experiment with that independence.

Our summer Trustee gathering is held over two days during the camp season. Our meetings take place in a building right beside the camp bell, in the center of camp activity. I always take a seat that allows me to see campers moving around our wonderful campus.  Free of cell phones and computers, Ipods and other devices, the campers walk and talk in groups, and always look free and happy.   My favorite part of the visit is our opportunity to share a meal and sing with campers at lunchtime. I’m love the singing and am reminded of the joy and the importance of an Eagle’s Nest Camp session.

Jean’s connection to Eagle’s Nest began in 1992, when the oldest of her three children began attending camp. Since then her children: Jon, Saul and Jennifer (OA Alumni Semester 22) have spent a combined 21 summers at Eagle’s Nest.  Jean is currently a school counselor at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland and has a private practice in Kensington, Maryland. She has dedicated her career to working with teenagers and their families.

JAN. 16, 2014

Their Journey is Just Beginning

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Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director

Last weekend 23 students, 7 of them Eagle’s Nest Campers, arrived on Hart Road to begin the 38th semester at The Outdoor Academy. For the next 17 weeks they will take academic classes and spend a quarter of the semester developing wilderness skills in backpacking, rock climbing and canoeing on multiple trips throughout the Southeast. In the short time that they’ve been at OA, the students have already been out on a multi-day backpacking and camping trip in the Pisgah National Forest. Their adventure is just beginning.

Isa and McKinnley

I’m so excited for all of the students who are starting this transformative experience. Of course, I’m especially excited for the 7 campers who I know so well. For years I have watched them laugh, play and grow at camp. I know that they’ve been planning for and anticipating this moment for years.


Each year I am inspired to see the eagerness with which our campers begin their semester and the maturity and enthusiasm for learning with which they leave seventeen weeks later. OA is a place of challenge that empowers students to grow as leaders and creative, independent thinkers. It is an outstanding program of academic and personal growth for teens, centered in a deep connection to nature and responsibility to community (much like camp). By intentionally building the skills and personal responsibility necessary to create a close knit community, The Outdoor Academy teaches students to live well together and be their best selves.  OA develops the character required for life-long success.

Levi and Darci

 In a few weeks I will have the opportunity to visit OA and talk with the seven campers about their experiences so far. By that point they will have been at OA for over 3 weeks – the typical amount of time they usually spend at camp – but they will only be a small fraction of the way through their semester. I can’t wait to hear about their experiences to that point and to see their growth.

You can follow the students’ journey on The Outdoor Academy blog and view their pictures in the OA photo gallery