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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 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

APR. 5, 2019

Eagle’s Nest as a Community of Learners

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Last semester, I had the pleasure of taking an educational psychology class. During class one day, my professor asked the whole class what we thought about having a community of learners and how to implement that in a classroom. My immediate thought went to camp, and I could not shake this thought for the rest of the semester. Although camp is not a traditional school setting, it illuminates the exact purpose and practice of a community of learners.

Hi! My name is Jordy, and I am currently a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder studying English with an emphasis in literature, a minor in Spanish, and I am also pursuing a licensure in elementary education. I did not start college on this track, and it is because of Eagle’s Nest that I am here. The community that Eagle’s Nest fosters is what lead me to what I am studying and to wanting to be a teacher.

Earlier, I mentioned a community of learners. The best way to describe this is to think of a setting in which all learners and educators alike are on an equal playing field. The educators are comfortable admitting when they do not know, and they are open and willing to learn from their students. The students not only learn from their teacher, but from their peers as well. In discussing this practice in class, my peers struggled to think of an example within a traditional school setting. I experienced the opposite: I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut about how Eagle’s Nest is the perfect example of this.

At Eagle’s Nest, whether counselors and campers know it or not, all of us are participants in a community of learners. Counselors value learning from their campers, and campers are ready to learn new skills with each class meeting. Not only that, but campers are encouraged to teach one another in their classes. The beauty of this situation is that counselors do not necessarily feel like they are “teaching” and campers do not necessarily feel like they are “learning,” yet it is a community that comes naturally at Eagle’s Nest.

Growing up at camp and experiencing this community as a child empowered me to be a thinker and to encouraged me to be curious about how the world around me functioned. Continuing to return to camp as a staff member has proven to me that being in a setting where teaching and learning is a natural relationship is something that I want to continue to do with my life. Even though I write lesson plans for my classes at Eagle’s Nest, I know that my lesson will never be fully scripted because there is always room for me to learn from my campers. The awe that this community of learners has left me in continues to inspire me to implement a similar community in a traditional classroom, and to provide the same community feel that camp gives at school. 


Jordy Frankel has worked on staff at Eagle’s Nest Camp in a variety of different positions since the summer of 2015. This summer she’ll be returning to be one of the Coordinators and mentors for the Junior Counselor program, to lead singing in the Dining Hall, direct the musical and keep us smiling and happy. We’re thrilled that Jordy is pursuing teaching as a career. You can learn more about Jordy’s thoughts about camp by watching the camp video.


APR. 1, 2019

Updates to Facilities that Support Staff in the Works for Fall 2019

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As you have probably seen if you follow Eagle’s Nest on Facebook or Instagram, plans for the new Staff Housing and Office Building have been approved, and construction is on track to begin this fall. We’ve very excited about this new building that will provide year round office spaces for the OA Director, Admissions staff and Deans and will also provide housing, a lounge and kitchen for OA Residents during the school year, and for Camp Administrators in the summer. The new two-story building will be nestled in the woods near the Traditional Arts buildings (Wayah and Cheoah) and will be seamlessly integrated into the landscape. As we work on plans for the building we will incorporate sustainable systems including lights with timers and sensors, storm water management, harvesting White Pine lumber from campus for the interior design, high-efficiency windows and more.

We are also excited that when working on construction plans for the new building we were able to include up-dates to the jet hanger below Cabin 7 Field. As some of you may know, in the late 1940s Eagle’s Nest was gifted with an F-100 jet that staff members could use on their limited time off during the summer. Legend has it that in the 1980s when Noni and Cissy Byrd were Junior Counselors it was also used to take the entire JC group on an overnight trip to the Yukon, but there is very little proof to back up this story). Over the years, and particularly during Snowmageddon in the winter of 2010, the hatch to open the secret doors of the hanger have sustained damage making it difficult to operate without waking Cabin 7 boys. In recent years Paige and other counselors have had to resort to serenading Cabins 6 and 7 to mask the noise of the squeaky doors so that counselor can still use the jet. On one occasion the doors actually got stuck half way open and Kyle was forced to set up tarps to control “erosion” to keep campers from learning the truth.

In addition to repairing the hanger and building a tunnel that will go to it from the new Housing and Office Building, we would also like to consider adding a few additional elements that will be attractive to staff. This is where we need your help. Eagle’s Nest is calling all alums to send us your ideas and sketches. Do you think that the building should include a zip line that leads from the deck of the new building to the lake or a hot tub for Hante staff to use after 14-days on the Appalachian Trail? What about a crow’s nest built on top that could include a telescope for viewing the Perseids Meteor shower each August? Start dreaming and send your ideas to Paige at by the end of April. We hope to break ground in August when camp ends. Maybe one of your ideas will be included in the new building.

For more accurate information about the actual plans for the real Housing and Offices Building and to make a donation to help support it, click here.

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. 22, 2019

Learning Doesn’t Have to End in June

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In a 2016 study by the North Carolina Youth Camp Association of parents who send their kids to camp in North Carolina,  91% of respondents (3,540 parents) answered “yes” to the question, “Does attending overnight camp help your child succeed in a school environment?” Why does camp help kids do better in school? They stay mentally engaged during the summer. Summer break is a long time for kids to go without using the information they learn in school. Kids need a bridge from the end of spring to the beginning of fall that allows them to build on their knowledge base at the start of a new school year. That bridge is camp.

At camp, kids stay mentally engaged during the summer, learn new skills, and practice their social skills. They use math in woodworking, cooking, and music. They use chemistry in photography/dark room. They develop their problem solving skills in rock climbing and whitewater canoeing. They practice their storytelling in songwriting, creative writing, and Nature Lore. They practice their writing and grammar by writing letters home. Older campers may be more likely to take on leadership roles in camp classes that they have taken for years rather than in a school club. They are in a comfortable place where they can learn to lead and teach. Without the pressure of school and tests, kids don’t feel the need to find one correct answer, and they have the freedom to take more risks and come up with creative responses.

Camp provides a unique opportunity for kids to experience the joy and community of a summer outside with friends while doing active and often unconscious maintenance of their academic skill set that will ensure their ability to jump back into the school year come Fall. They may even use their new confidence to join or start a club at school to continue enjoying their newly found love of archery, batik, or guitar.

Don’t think your child is ready to take on a full week of this immersive and educational summer experience? Give your kid a chance to see camp in action this summer. Check out our Nestling Day for prospective campers in Kindergarten through 5th grade!

By Anna Lauria