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APR. 28, 2014

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone, and Finding Success

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Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director

This weekend I ran 13 miles of the 212 mile long Smoky Mountain Relay with a group of 11 friends, most of whom are Eagle’s Nesters (former campers, Hante and Outdoor Academy participants, staff members and parents). The race started at 7:30 AM in Pink Beds and ended 31 hours later at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City. In between it curved up and over the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina – our backyard! Each step was magnificent and also incredibly challenging. We found ourselves lost on trails, battling extreme heat in the late afternoon and freezing temps at higher altitudes in the middle of the night. We jumped over rocks and fallen trees and ran up-hill for miles without a break. We dealt with tummy aches, blisters and fatigue from sleeplessness and physical exhaustion. Despite the challenges, we had a fantastic time and would do it all again in next weekend (or maybe next month) if we could.

Julia and Lisa

 This is the 5th endurance relay that I’ve participated in, and so far it was definitely the most challenging. I got involved with relays in the fall of 2012 as a way to challenge myself to continue to grow. During the summer, we encourage our campers to step outside of their comfort zone, and I felt that it was time that I did the same. I knew that participating in an endurance relay, running three different race legs of 3 – 5 miles throughout a 24+ hour period, would be physically challenging, but I also knew that organizing 11 other people to do the same would challenge my logistical planning, problem solving and support skills. Luckily I’ve had the support of my teammates as I face each challenge, just as our campers have the support of their counselors and camp friends. As a result, I’ve grown tremendously and have been more open to seeking even greater challenges – like running two miles up a mountain and gaining over 1,000 feet in altitude at 3:00 AM in the morning. Yep – I did that, and I’m pretty proud of myself.

Paige on trail

 As I bask in the glow of a successful weekend, I would like to encourage all of you, regardless of your age, to embrace a new challenge. For some of our campers that might mean taking the swim assessment in the lake this summer, finding the courage to make a new friend, or trying a meal that includes kale. I know that it’s scary to think about stepping out of your comfort zone, but believe me – the rewards are great. As you prepare for the summer, consider what challenge you’d like to tackle, and set a goal for your personal growth. We’ll support you every step of the way.

finish line