Preparing Your Child and Yourself for Camp

Going away to camp for the first (or second or third) time can be both thrilling and terrifying for both children and parents. Camp gives children the opportunity to learn and practice vital life skills of independence, resiliency, relationship building, courage, and self-efficiency. Camp will provide many opportunities for fun and magic, and also may be challenging at times. We will support your children as they face challenges, and we will help them develop the tools and confidence that they need to successfully care for and support themselves on their path to adulthood.

Talk to your child about what it will be like to be at camp and any fears that they may have. Let them know that, although you will not be there to help them when they are away, their counselor will provide wonderful support and care for them. If you are feeling nervous yourself, please contact us. We know how difficult it can be to pass on the care of your children to someone else. Please trust that Eagle’s Nest is prepared to nurture and care for your child while they are with us.



There’s a good chance that your child will miss home at some point, just as you will probably miss your child. Homesickness stems from a break with familiar, loving connections—to home, to family, to pets, to routine, etc. Our best way to handle homesickness is to start building strong new connections with campers right away, so that they feel secure and know that they are not alone. We do this in many ways through the many communities that exist at camp. We are also very in-tune with spotting and caring for homesickness in a kind and nurturing way. If the homesickness is acute and continues for more than a day or two, we will contact you to let you know what is happening and enlist your help with a plan. Generally, we will not allow the camper to talk with you, as that isn’t helpful to the camper or the parent/guardian. If the camper does talk with you, please support them being at camp and do not tell them that you’ll come and get them. Please trust that we are caring for and nurturing your child through their homesickness. Please also know that your child will face similar discomforts in life, and that this experience will help them learn to be successful and resilient as they meet other challenging situations.

You can also help by preparing your child to understand what the time period of one to three weeks really means. Make a sample session calendar laid out on big paper and “live” that time period before camp. Let your child know that you are proud of them for going away. Remind them that it’s okay to feel homesick at times, and that their counselor will help them when they miss home. Do not tell your child that they may come home if they don’t like camp. If you do, it will be very difficult for us to counsel and support them when they are homesick.


Inclusive Community at Eagle’s Nest

Cognizant of societal inequities, ENF is committed to attracting and serving people of diverse cultures, ethnicities, faiths, identities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our community ethos fosters belonging, self-awareness, respect, honesty, empathy, anti-racism, inclusion, and equity. We strive to honor the perspectives and traditions of all members of our community.

Eagle’s Nest’s philosophy is built on respect and being responsive to all. We are an independent, not-for-profit foundation. We believe that it’s important to create a space that is available and safe for all. A diverse community must include support, acceptance, respect, and compassion. We also believe that to be equitable we must honor all camper’s values, perspectives, and identities to create an inclusive community.

Eagle’s Nest also believes in supporting participants with financial need. We award over $100,000 in financial aid each year and also have a Gear Lending Library that provides essential camp gear like raincoats to campers who need it. For information on the Gear Lending Library please contact Ed at ed@enf.org.

Learn more about ENF’s Gear Lending Library


Gender Inclusion

Eagle’s Nest Foundation is committed to creating a positive and inclusive learning environment to all participants and staff, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. We offer a safe space where we support all our campers and participants. We teach and foster empathy and respect throughout our community. Our goal is to ensure all people feel safe and supported.

Transgender campers and staff are housed in the cabin of their self-identified gender. We work with gender fluid and non-binary participants to help find the most comfortable housing assignment for them. We will address participants by the name and pronoun that corresponds with their gender. Personal information, including transgender status, about individual campers or participants is private and will not be disclosed by camp staff. If, while at camp, a participant discloses that they identify as a gender different than their sex assigned at birth the Camp Director will work with the individual participant to create a plan for how the participant will be supported at camp. Eagle’s Nest leadership staff will encourage the participant to seek support from their parent(s) or guardian(s) and assist the participant in this process. Should the camper or participant request that the Eagle’s Nest leadership not share this information with their parent(s) or guardian(s), Eagle’s Nest will honor this request. If there is anything with regard to your camper’s gender about which you would like to talk to us, please do not hesitate to contact our Camp Director, Paige Lester-Niles at paige@enf.org or call 336-761-1040. Paige will set up a time to talk with you. Please know that any information you share with us will be kept confidential.




We ask that our parents not tip the staff. The work we do is out of respect for children and the gratification of such work. Donations to the camp scholarship fund in honor of our staff members are welcome and appreciated.


Age and Cabin Grouping

Campers range from kindergarten graduates to 11th-grade graduates. Participants are grouped according to grade level to ensure homogeneous maturity. Those who have completed the 11th grade may serve as Junior Counselors (JCs). In Session IV, JCs have completed 10th or 11th grade. Grades K-6 comprise the ranks of Junior Program Assistants (JPAs) and Program Assistants (PAs). Grades 7-9 comprise the Counselors in Training (CITs). These camper ranks are designed to establish categories for participation in community life.


Watch part of our Parent/Guardian Video series on cabins:


Cabin Assignments

We ask that you support us in our cabin assignments. We will not make changes in cabin assignments. Grades in cabins may change each year. Some cabins have mixed grades. When making cabin assignments we read requests that families have made, but we cannot guarantee that all buddies will be together. We will support campers in building friendships in their assigned cabins. We encourage new friendships and expanded horizons. Thanks for understanding and supporting us.


Picking Classes

Campers will have the opportunity to self-select activities. They will also be participating in some activities with their cabin and will have a “free choice” activity time in the evenings. The full time camp staff will work with campers to help schedule their classes. We work to help campers create a schedule that is well-rounded by encouraging each camper to take an outdoor class, athletic class, and art class. Also, campers are encouraged to try new classes and take a higher level of a class than they have already taken. Some classes are very popular and may not be open for all campers. We do our best to help all campers get into a couple of their top choice classes.



We serve natural, healthy foods. Our diet at camp consists of simple, made-from-scratch cooking. We use lots of healthy fresh ingredients like whole grains, local produce, and white meats. Protein-balanced, vegetarian options are served at every meal for those who desire it. We use sugar moderately and serve desserts occasionally. We also have a garden that produces some of the produce that we use in our meals.

Please do not send your child to camp with food. We can honor most special dietary needs upon arrangement. We are not a nut-free campus. Thank you for helping us get healthy, natural foods on our tables and promoting healthy eating habits.


Eating Habits and Disordered eating

Unfortunately, we do see children with eating disorders. Eagle’s Nest is not equipped to counsel those with serious eating disorders. Campers eat in small, family-grouped tables of six to eight campers and two counselors. Counselors monitor and encourage healthy eating habits.



At Eagle’s Nest, we test all campers to assess their swimming abilities. Knowing each camper’s swimming ability helps us plan for the many water-oriented activities in which they will participate at camp. The swimming test includes swimming on the front and back, jumping into deep water, and treading water for 2 minutes. During Sessions 1-3, campers, who are unable to swim, are required to take swimming classes at camp – either every day or every other day. During Session 4, campers are highly encouraged to take swimming. Our swimming program helps us meet our mission by teaching a valuable life skill that campers need in order to participate in many of our activities. Swimming also connects campers to the outdoors and camp provides them with a supportive program in which they can step out of their comfort zone a bit and face some of their fears about lakes and other natural bodies of water.

Please help prepare your child for swimming at camp. If your child is a novice swimmer, enroll them in a class at a local organization that teaches swimming. Let your child know that they will be taking a swimming test in the camp lake. Let us know if your child has fears about taking the swimming test or about taking swimming at camp. We also train our staff on how to help nurture and prepare campers for the swimming test. If there is a reason why you would like for your child to be exempt from taking swimming at Eagle’s Nest, or if you have concerns, please contact the Camp Director, Paige Lester-Niles at paige@enf.org, to discuss.


Children Going Off Campus

We do not allow your child to leave camp with other families for any reason without specific written permission from you. This permission must include the name of the person, over the age of 18, with whom the child may leave camp.




Expectations for Behavior

Eagle’s Nest promotes a safe and nurturing community in which children and teenagers may mature at an appropriate pace. We are very clear with our campers about our rules and boundaries, and about our expectations for their behavior. We also teach them to understand the connection between their behavior (good or bad) and the resulting consequences (natural and imposed). We teach our counselors and campers to remove the negative connotation of discipline, and view it as a positive way to help children become their best selves. For example, we think of successful athletes as being very disciplined in order to meet their goals. In the same way, we help children to be disciplined about the way in which they interact with each other within our community. We also help children to be disciplined and make good choices by teaching respect for each other, our camp community, and by setting our expectations for camper and staff behavior. We are not punitive; we operate through a sense of caring for our campers.


Sexual Activity

We recognize that sexuality is a vital aspect of growth in young people. We feel that schools and organizations such as ours, which are interested in the total growth of young people, must address this fact. We have found that the camp setting becomes, for some campers, an environment where the camper becomes comfortable enough to ask questions concerning sex and/or their sexuality. Our staff has been trained during orientation to field questions or discussions amongst campers, in an age-appropriate, healthy, and sensitive manner. The Eagle’s Nest plan for our community is to provide, first and foremost, a well-communicated structure that our campers and Junior Counselors can understand and live up to. Campers and participants may not participate in sexual activities while at Eagle’s Nest.


Cabin Rules

In cabins, counselors monitor camper relationships. Campers are never one-on-one with each other or one-on-one with a counselor.


Bedtime Rules/Lights-Out Hours

In the evening, cabins are supervised by the cabin counselors. Camp leaders “ramble” camp to make sure things are quiet and settled after lights out. We also close the gates at both entrances in the evenings. At Eagle’s Nest, cabins are safe spaces and cabin raids are not tolerated at any time.



On overnight camping expeditions, campers sleep in single-gendered tarps and tents. Counselors monitor tent groups.


Camper Cleanliness

As part of maintaining good health while at camp, campers shower and change clothes daily. If your child is not used to taking a shower please teach them this skill before camp. Counselors are also instructed to be watchful for skin infections, poison ivy outbreaks, and the general health of each of their campers.


Loss and Theft

Theft is extremely rare at camp but can occur. Since campers can lose track of precious items that they bring to camp please do not bring/send costly and valuable objects like jewelry, expensive or new clothing, expensive watches, etc. to camp. We understand your desire to purchase valuable outdoor equipment such as sleeping bags, boots, etc. for camp; however, most expensive gear is not necessary. We do everything we can to help the camper use good care habits. The camper will be given help with this through guidance from their counselor. At the end of the session, campers are given supervised cabin time for packing and other final cabin activities. Still, many campers struggle to keep up with their personal things and often go home missing a few items with which they arrived. Prior to camp, please have a discussion with your child about how to care for (and recognize) their possessions. It will help if they are involved with packing for camp. We also ask that you label all of your child’s clothing and gear (including toiletries). A Sharpie works well for doing this. We cannot guarantee total protection and we cannot replace stolen or lost items. A camper will have to assume responsibility for their own possessions. All Lost and Found left at the end of the session will go to a local shelter.


Daily Schedule

7:30AM -Rising Bell

7:45AM- Table Setting

8:00AM- Flag Raising

8:15AM- Breakfast

9:00AM- Cabin Cleanup or Bread Making

9:30AM- Class Period 1

10:40AM- Class Period 2

12:00PM- Cabin Time

12:30PM- Lunch and Singing

1:30PM – Rest Period

2:30PM- Class Period 3

3:40PM- Class Period 4

5:00PM- Cabin Time

5:30PM Dinner

6:30PM- Free Choice Time

8:00PM – Goodnight Circle and Snack


Evening Schedule:

K-3rd Grade: Evening Activity 8:00—8:30, Lights Out 9:00

4th-6th Grade: Evening Activity 8:00—9:00, Lights Out 9:30

7th-9th Grade: Evening Activity 8:00—9:30, Lights Out 10:00


Reasons for Expulsion

1. Drugs and Alcohol: If a camper brings or uses illegal substances, drug paraphernalia, or alcohol at camp, on camp trips, or at any Eagle’s Nest Foundation program, or offers illegal substances or alcohol to others, they will be sent home on the first offense and will not be able to participate in another Eagle’s Nest Foundation-sponsored program for at least one year. Counselors are carefully screened and will receive the same consequences if they violate this policy.

2. Smoking: The use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes or similar vaping devices, is not permitted at Eagle’s Nest Camp. A violation of this rule is grounds for expulsion from the program.

3. Sexual Activity: Physically intimate activity, of any sort, at camp or on Hante Adventures by participants, including JCs, is not acceptable and is grounds for dismissal. Campers learn to have inclusive, not exclusive, relationships and leave camp with good friends and a love for themselves and who they are.

4. Disregard of ENF Regulations: Any camper or participant who disregards ENF regulations is liable for expulsion. This includes harassment or bullying.

If Eagle’s Nest is unable to effectively counsel a child, and if their actions break Eagle’s Nest policy, the child will be sent home without a refund and will not be able to participate in any Eagle’s Nest Foundation-sponsored program for at least one year.