By Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director
With the coming of spring I find myself relishing in the longer days and the sudden explosion of color all around me. It seems like just yesterday that I was looking out at my backyard flower garden thinking about the bulbs I had planted in the fall and wondering what was going to be popping up this spring. Today I’m thrilled to see red and yellow tulips, grape hyacinths, and the very beginnings of Ornamental lilies that will bloom just as I head off to camp. It’s exciting for me to imagine the possibilities and to anticipate the beautiful result of my work and nature’s care; it’s even more thrilling to bask in them.
I could draw a similar parallel to the year leading up to camp. I’m often asked what I do when camp isn’t in session. I think that the best answer is that I dream and plan. I stare out at the metaphorical backyard garden that is the summer and I imagine all of the flowers that are going to be a part of it. It’s exciting for me to think about the programs and activities that we will run, the laughs that we will have, the friendships that we will make, and of course, all of the campers and staff members that will make it all possible.
As I began to formulate my plans this year (and all years actually) I started with the mission of Eagle’s Nest Foundation: experiential education for young people, promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character. I find that it’s pretty easy to plan a spectacular garden when starting with such an inspiring foundation.
This year the Camp Team and I are really digging into the meaning of “the betterment of human character”. We see the growth that happens for children during their time with us, and we know that we are helping them strengthen their character, but what character strengths do children and teens need to be healthy, happy, helpful in the face of current and future challenges? Which traits should we specifically focus on, what mechanism are we using to reach this goal, and what tools can we give our staff so they teach and guide our campers? These are the questions that we have been searching to answer using survey data from the Eagle’s Nest Community, through reference materials, and during a series of retreats. Our garden is still growing, but we’re excited by the greens that are beginning to pop up from the warm earth.