For weeks now I’ve been trying to think about an appropriate and up-lifting way to mark the day that was supposed to be the opening of summer 2020 at Eagle’s Nest Camp. It’s difficult to consider “celebrating” something that was meant to be, but wasn’t able to happen. However, I also think that it’s important not to ignore significant dates or experiences and let them pass without acknowledging them. I also think it’s important to find joy in, gratitude for, and inspiration in the things that we love. So today, I’d like for us all to celebrate many years of opening Eagle’s Nest Camp – past and future – with great enthusiasm, and to carry that energy and our ways of being at Eagle’s Nest with us throughout the summer.

For as long as I have been at Eagle’s Nest, the tradition on opening night of camp is to gather together and make a wish for ourselves for the session. For many years now I have talked to campers and staff about making a wish for one of the following: to connect with nature, to make a new friend and enjoy being with old friends who know them very well, to learn new skills, to have a WHOLE LOT OF FUN and to be joyful, and finally – to experience magic. The tradition is simple, but also meaningful as it gives each of us an opportunity to reflect and be intentional about what we want for ourselves at the outset of something we are launching into together. I’ve often thought “wouldn’t it be nice if we thought about and made similar ‘wishes’ at other beginnings.” Perhaps we do.

Today, I’d like to ask you to make a wish. If you can, spend a little time outside. Take some deep breaths. Quiet your voice and your mind a little. Listen to the sounds around you. Can you hear spring peepers, a wood thrush, bullfrogs or other sounds of nature familiar to ones that you would hear at camp? Look around. What do you see? Are fire flies out in the skies? Can you see dark green pine needles or waving leaves of deciduous trees? Even if you are not able to connect with nature, notice how you are able to connect with other things that are at the core of Eagle’s Nest Camp – community, confidence, compassion and joy. Though you may not be at Eagle’s Nest, Eagle’s Nest is with you when you interact with these things. You can also share Eagle’s Nest with others by sharing a kind word, being understanding, finding ways to protect the natural world and more.

When you are ready, make your wish. Remember, it’s just a wish, not a goal. You don’t need to be very specific, to have a plan or action steps, you just need to simply think about something that you want for yourself: nature, friendship, skills, fun or magic. Let that wish grow in your heart and mind throughout the summer and until we meet again at Eagle’s Nest.

By Paige Lester-Niles

We’ve put together a short video of our wishes for the summer. You can find the video here.