Five Years Later
When I talk with young people (or anyone for that matter) about the future, I encourage them to figure out a way to make a career out of something they’re passionate about. It’s advice that I’ve received throughout my life, and I take it pretty seriously. The average person spends 99,117 hours at work in their lifetime. If you aren’t doing something that inspires you, well, it’s time to make a change.
I accepted a position at Eagle’s Nest Camp five years ago this week. I was impressed by Eagle’s Nest – from the intentional communities to the overwhelming sense of compassion to the natural beauty of the campus. I knew it was something I wanted to be part of. So, a few weeks later I loaded up my Jeep and headed east from Boulder, Colorado to Winston-Salem, NC. Watching the Rocky Mountains fade in my rearview mirror wasn’t easy, but my intuition told me I was traveling in the right direction.
Initially, I thought my job at Eagle’s Nest would be just that: a job. I knew it would be a position that I’d enjoy, and I knew that I’d do work I’m passionate about. Back then, I had no idea that this place and these people would touch my life in a way that nothing else ever has.
When I’m traveling to share Eagle’s Nest with prospective families, I spend a lot of time talking about how transformative our programs are for young people. I tell them about how they’ll learn and develop skills that will help them paddle a tandem canoe through whitewater and simultaneously help them be a strong part of their community when they return home. They’ll grow in confidence and compassion, and develop significant relationships with other people and the natural world. And on top of it all, they’ll have a whole lot of fun.
The day that I began Eagle’s Nest, I knew that I’d be working with a team of talented people to create magical experiences for our participants. What I didn’t realize is that I’d be learning just as much as the campers do and growing in self in a way that was previously unfathomable to me.
Working here has challenged me. From late nights during the summer capturing bats that have sneakily found their way into cabins, to mentoring staff through tough situations, to long days on the trail with a heavy backpack, to helping create the best possible experience for our campers – no day is ever the same as the one before. Through these challenges, and the successes and failures I’ve experienced in responding to them, I’ve developed significant faith in myself. Every single day, I grow in confidence in my ability to lead and guide others.
Along the way, I’ve learned that a large part of having confidence in myself is being comfortable asking for help. It’s easy to do that when you work with a group of people who are as inspirational as my colleagues at The Nest. They are a special breed of humans who are unyieldingly committed to creating a community that nurtures, challenges, and loves unconditionally. I thought I understood compassion before working here, but these people have rewritten the definition. They are the givers; wonderful, rare souls who find strength and joy in fully sharing themselves with others. In short, having them in my life makes me want to be a better person. I’m lucky to enjoy the people I work with, but I’m truly fortunate to be able to call them my friends.
In our promotional video, Ali Heston (Camp/OA/Hante parent and Whole Kitchen Baker) says, “This isn’t just coming to camp for our kids; Eagle’s Nest is a second home.” Her words have been echoing through my mind as I write because I feel the same way. This isn’t just coming to work for me; Eagle’s Nest is a place where I learn and grow and become a better human being. As it turns out, summer camp doesn’t only benefit kids – we all become our best selves here. Due in large part to the five years I’ve spent at Eagle’s Nest, I really like who I am, and that’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
Share your story, share the magic. #ENFsharethemagic
Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director