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JAN. 16, 2014

Their Journey is Just Beginning

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Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director

Last weekend 23 students, 7 of them Eagle’s Nest Campers, arrived on Hart Road to begin the 38th semester at The Outdoor Academy. For the next 17 weeks they will take academic classes and spend a quarter of the semester developing wilderness skills in backpacking, rock climbing and canoeing on multiple trips throughout the Southeast. In the short time that they’ve been at OA, the students have already been out on a multi-day backpacking and camping trip in the Pisgah National Forest. Their adventure is just beginning.

Isa and McKinnley

I’m so excited for all of the students who are starting this transformative experience. Of course, I’m especially excited for the 7 campers who I know so well. For years I have watched them laugh, play and grow at camp. I know that they’ve been planning for and anticipating this moment for years.


Each year I am inspired to see the eagerness with which our campers begin their semester and the maturity and enthusiasm for learning with which they leave seventeen weeks later. OA is a place of challenge that empowers students to grow as leaders and creative, independent thinkers. It is an outstanding program of academic and personal growth for teens, centered in a deep connection to nature and responsibility to community (much like camp). By intentionally building the skills and personal responsibility necessary to create a close knit community, The Outdoor Academy teaches students to live well together and be their best selves.  OA develops the character required for life-long success.

Levi and Darci

 In a few weeks I will have the opportunity to visit OA and talk with the seven campers about their experiences so far. By that point they will have been at OA for over 3 weeks – the typical amount of time they usually spend at camp – but they will only be a small fraction of the way through their semester. I can’t wait to hear about their experiences to that point and to see their growth.

You can follow the students’ journey on The Outdoor Academy blog and view their pictures in the OA photo gallery