By Ben Sunding, Camp Program Manager

Some of you may be well aware that something I obsess over is cryptids, mysteries, treasures, and legends. I’m talking about the Loch Ness Monster, Forest Fenn’s Treasure, and NOT Bigfoot (Bigfoot is a ridiculous concept that won’t be discussed any further in this blog). Regarding these ideas, I spent a lot of time this past summer trying to spot Shmorgu, mischievous little gnomes that kept messing with all of camp. No matter how much or how little truth there is to any of this, I continue to find it all so fascinating. Perhaps this is because I grew up on movies and media such as Indiana Jones, where reality and myths merge. Either way, it’s fun for me to believe in some of this stuff because it could mean we live in a land with a Lord of the Rings level of lore.

That said, I was speaking to my pal Becca who brought me a different and interesting perspective that I feel is worth mentioning. Our world as it stands is already so mysterious with new discoveries waiting in every corner. Why obsess over ideas that are mostly that of fantasy when nature has so much to offer? For instance, scientists understand that humankind has still not discovered all of the species that live in the ocean. Additionally, we don’t quite fully have a handle on land. Throughout history obscure species have “gone extinct” only to be discovered once again. This thought gives me the same thrill that I get when considering the potential existence of modern and historical legends.

Then there’s the natural beauty of the world. While on Hantes, I’ve had the pleasure of hiking through with great company and observing some of the most jaw dropping views we had ever seen. There are a lot of reasons as to why rocks form the way they form and why trees grow the way they grow, but nothing changes the fact that it’s all so breathtaking. Becca stated that rather than trying to follow a map on the back of the Constitution to a treasure, I can follow trails and discover the wondrous treasures that nature has to offer. 

Becca makes a great point, as she often does. There is so much right in front of us that is worth our appreciation and all we need to do is take time to notice them. While I still love getting lost in mythical stories, I am so grateful to spend everyday in a place filled with its own wonder. There is nothing like the joy of pausing a game in the woods to watch a Pileated Woodpecker feed its young. There is nothing like the challenge of hiking up a steep mountain with a heavy backpack so that you can meet the reward of a spectacular view. There is nothing like the intense bonds that are made between friends after laughing and sharing stories over a campfire. 

All of what I just mentioned has equal and immeasurable value and all of it can be experienced in our programs at Eagle’s Nest. Whether it be Hante, Camp, or the Outdoor Academy, our participants have the opportunity to think beyond themselves and engage with a sense of place. As the camp team continues working hard on the fun and magic we have planned for Summer 2024, I am excited at how participants will connect with the natural world and at the idea of any potential Shmorgu sightings.