JAN. 2, 2014
One of the oldest ways of tracking the passing of the year is by the length of day—with longer days in summer and shorter days in winter. The waypoints along our annual journey are the two solstices and the two equinoxes. As I write this, we’ve just passed the Winter Solstice on December 21—the shortest day of the year, and the first day of winter. And now that it’s January we’re all thinking about the new year and what 2014 will bring…but in some cultures, the Winter Solstice is New Year’s Day. From the moment the days start to lengthen again, the new year is waxing, and we look forward to the times ahead.
The Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year—will be June 21. That’s the day between Session I and Session II! We’ll celebrate it a few days early during Session I by greeting the sunrise and sunset and dancing around our maypole. As Session II begins and the Earth crosses into the second half of its transit around the Sun, summer will be in full swing. Where will you be?
DEC. 19, 2013
On the best days in Pisgah Forest, it feels like the magic “just happens.” Sometimes, that’s the case. Most of the time, though, there is a depth of activity that our campers and students don’t see.
One of the things that goes on behind the Wizard of Oz’s curtain at ENF is the annual fund, our primary fundraising vehicle. 14% of ENF’s revenue this year is slated to come from donations. Where does this money go? Straight back into our students and campers in the form of scholarships, campus improvements, and professional development for our staff and faculty.
The annual fund is a critical piece of our mission. This year, 93 campers and 22 students received financial aid at some level. Imagine if we hadn’t been able to provide experiential education, promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character, to these young people. What a loss that would have been to them and to this community!
You’ve probably received a letter or email about giving. If you haven’t read it already, I ask you to do that today. Another behind the curtain tip: pleasant ENF people work hard to create those messages!
Are OA, Camp and Hante important to you? Do you want others to be able to have that experience? Your gift, at any level, will provide energy and possibility to another generation of remarkable young people.
The annual fund that will close on December 31 will determine what happens behind the curtain to prepare a responsible budget for next year. Your gift will directly influence how much we can award in scholarships and what campus projects can go forward.
Please make your gift today, then pass this blog along to your friends who also value The Outdoor Academy, Eagle’s Nest Camp, and Hante Adventures. Ask them to join you in setting up the magic next year.
NOV. 25, 2013
Short days and cold nights are here and that makes for a lot of changes in the garden. This time of year brings a welcome end to the constant weeding or harvesting of summer and an opportunity to direct our attention toward the long term.
We are all about building community here at Eagle’s Nest and that is exactly what this dormant season will bring to the garden. There will be quite a lot of new species with new life styles and symbiotic relationships helping to create a more complete and sustainable ecosystem.
A lot of unsuspecting perennials, like this Black Locust tree, will wake up next spring in new locations ready to change the world, or at least our small part of it.
While the frosts have slowed our harvesting down quite a bit it has by no means stopped. That beautiful bed of broccoli did indeed turn out a nice crop in the beginning of November and should continue to produce smaller side shoots. We are also still harvesting Lettuce, Carrots, Kale, Beets, and Spinach.
Just before the first frost in mid October the Outdoor Academy students and I dug our two beds of sweet potatoes which were planted at the end of May. I had my doubts about the success of the crop due to so much rain and poor drainage in those areas but the sweet potatoes were apparently confident enough to produce more than 230 pounds from only 200ft². We also harvested some of the leaves which are delicious sautéed or in soups and can be found seasonally at farmers markets or growing on sweet potato plants.
There is a major new feature taking shape in the garden this fall, a community garden area featuring 4’x4’ raised beds. This area will provide a space for students and staff to take ownership of a small part of the garden and experiment with backyard scale agriculture on their own. The grid pattern creates an extremely accessible area in which to work and learn. As the hedgerows develop the community garden will become a fairly secluded spot within the larger garden. It’s going to be a really beautiful spot.
There are many different styles of sustainable agriculture and they all share the idea that natural systems should be encouraged and supported. We are attempting to do just that by putting the right plants in the right places and then letting them build a healthy ecosystem. Whatever the problem is we have a plant that will help to fix it.
Black Locust trees, like the one at the beginning of this article, add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil as well as provide bird habitat, firewood, and building materials.
Comphrey is a dynamic accumulator, a particularly vigorous plant that can thrive in poor soils by scavenging nutrients that are inaccessible to other plants. These nutrients become available to your crops when the Comphrey leaves die or are composted. Be careful though while it will not spread on its own, it is almost impossible to remove from a location once it is planted because even the smallest roots will produce a new plant. This one is going to be a major part of the garden for a long time.
Some crops are grown for the kitchen, some are for other plants, and some are for the bugs.
These Fava beans are being grown as a cover crop in the high tunnel. They will produce a large amount of nitrogen and organic matter for the next crop in line. Flowering in November they also provide food for beneficial insects and something beautiful to look at when it’s cold outside. Fava beans actually feed beneficials even when they are not flowering through special Extrafloral Nectaries. Another symbiotic relationship encouraging a healthier ecosystem.
Next season will hold many more exciting new developments as the systems mature and start to create a more diverse and interdependent environment. I can’t wait to see it. For now you will find me collecting leaves, moving trees, planting bulbs, sheet mulching, pruning, harvesting, double digging, and thinking up those new developments for next year.
OCT. 30, 2013
On Friday, our Board of Trustees and Camp Representatives excitedly descended upon campus for the annual Fall Retreat. The weekend was highlighted by beautiful, sunny days that led to chilly fall nights. Many spent time reminiscing about their experiences at Eagle’s Nest, while other, much younger, participants began creating new memories of their own.
The tractor is ready for the evening hay ride to the campfire.
Before heading home at the end of the weekend, the Camp Representative families met to prepare for and brainstorm about upcoming camp parties in their cities. Much of our meeting was spent sharing stories about why we love Eagle’s Nest and the formative experiences it has provided for generations of young and old alike. There was lots of laughter and even a few tears, but most of all there was enthusiasm and excitement about sharing Eagle’s Nest with others.
This weekend left me feeling inspired. The momentum sparked by young and young at heart lingers in this special place and makes me more excited than ever to begin traveling and telling new people about Eagle’s Nest. I can’t wait to hit the road for the first camp party of the season this Friday in Concord, NC!
Charlotte is excited about reaching the top of the climbing wall.
Camp parties are the perfect way to hang out with Eagle’s Nest alumni and meet new friends who haven’t been to camp yet. Over the next several months, Paige and I will be traveling all over the southeast United States (and even as far west as Chicago and Colorado!) for Eagle’s Nest parties. We can’t wait to see past campers and get to know future ones, so please join us when we come to your town! If you’ve never been to Eagle’s Nest, camp parties offer a great opportunity to learn more about our programs, ask questions, and discover what summertime at the Nest is really like.
Lily finds time to water colora beautiful mountain scene.
Check out the Eagle’s Nest calendar to find out when we will be in your city, and follow our journey through posts, pictures, and videos on Facebook. See you on the road!
OCT. 18, 2013
Though I never have attended camp, been on a Hante, or attended The Outdoor Academy, simply hearing the words “Eagle’s Nest” puts me in a place I prefer to be: calm, joyful, passionate, playful, mindful and caring.
And apparently, when I’m in that state of mind, I’m a bit vulnerable to Noni’s voice.
(Admit it. You know what I’m talking about.)
How else can I explain agreeing to organize a Centennial meeting — the first of 15, it turns out — in Winston-Salem?
So with much more confidence than ability, buoyed by the thought of upping my intimacy with Nesters (because, after all, I am a member of the lesser-known fifth tribe, Wannabe), and knowing – absolutely – that this opportunity would allow me to receive ten-fold what I could give, I agreed.
Because, as with most things that are Eagle’s Nest, the grace is being allowed to answer the call. And this proved no exception.
Twenty Nesters gathered in a beautiful, sacred room used by our host to promote physical and spiritual healing. We sat in a circle (what else?) and — along with the oft-repeated promise of snacks — we began.
We got to the meat of the matter: How did we perceive Eagle’s Nest’s cultural mission and, if we value it, how do we keep it authentic and relevant? What is our perception of diversity, and what opportunities do we have to promote it? And if we cherish the experience, how can we ensure that Eagle’s Nest will be able to continue to offer it to future generations?
The discussions were thoughtful, lively, fruitful, and only a smidgen longer than requested, but we managed to pull it all together in the end.
And as importantly, we walked in as strangers with many voices, and left as friends with one.
Where can you Circle Up? Check for the other 14 cities hosting discussions on our calendar, here.
OCT. 7, 2013
What’s in a name? For Eagle’s Nest Foundation it is 86 years of history steeped with traditions, innovations, growth and inspiration for generations of young people. As we look forward to what Eagle’s Nest will be at 100 years we wanted to “freshen up” how we visually define ourselves. With three strong programs operating within the Eagle’s Nest we wanted to find a way that each could visually distinguish itself and at the same time be clearly identified as a program of Eagle’s Nest Foundation. Hence, our four new logos you are seeing today.
As you look at the logo you will see components of the logos from each of the programs embedded in and around our central eagle – the icon that has been part of our traditions as long as we have been in operation. Our eagle is strong, lofting upwards on air drafts pushing up from our Little River Valley. In the background you will see our mountains as you would see them leaving our Everett Road entrance: majestic blue mountains, welcoming and ancient.
Topping the mountain you will see the rising sun that is integral to our Outdoor Academy logo. The circle represents the student and the mountain the challenge that will inspire their growth while they attend our semester school. The rays of light are each a principle that will serve as a guide post on their educational journey through our four pillars or cornerstones: Intellect, Environment, Community and Craft. At each step on that mountain we develop the character required for life-long success by practicing our seven principles (the rays): Simple Living, Work Ethic, Curiosity, Integrity, Stewardship, Self-Reliance, and Gratitude.
Twinkling over the eagle are the stars of Hante Adventures, inspired by the quest for a journey. Within the Hante logo these stars rise over our mountains lighting the way and the path to lands beyond our valley. The constellation is Aquila, the Eagle, with the largest star being Altair, one of the points of the summer triangle. Anywhere in the world that our Hante Adventurers may be they will share these same stars with their friends back at the Nest.
A single eagle feather demarks our oldest program, Eagle’s Nest Camp. This feather, gently cupped, is our nest from which our campers grow and flourish, each one an integral part of the whole eagle – our community.
It is remarkable to look back over the years at the visual pieces we have used to portray Eagle’s Nest and know that at each stage we were marking who we were at that time. Sometimes it feels sad to leave behind a look but it will always be there, a part of our growing history. Our staff is very excited to share these new looks with you after months of scheming and drafting. We hope you will share the story with your friends!