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JAN. 22, 2014

Thoughts from an Eagle’s Nest Trustee

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by Jean Cohen

I’m an ENF Trustee now and I get to go to Eagle’s Nest three times a year for our meetings.   Every time I head up the driveway to the Salt Mines parking lot, I’m reminded of the many summers I drove into camp to pick up my own children on the last day of Session Two.   I was always struck by my first glimpse of them after three weeks away.  They looked incredibly happy, a little bit older, excited to see us, but always sad to be leaving camp for another year.   They seemed confident, and moved easily through the Quad, hugging other campers and counselors goodbye for the year.   The five hundred mile drive home to DC was always wonderful as the kids shared their stories of camp adventures, Giving Day, table families, and counselors, all while they pored over Smoke Signals and the song book.

A session at Eagle’s Nest is a wonderful opportunity to give children the time and space to grow and have an important experience in independence, group living and self-reliance.  For most children, it is their first extended period of time away from their parents.   For many, camp is a first opportunity to take care of their own possessions.  It is a first chance for children to manage relationships without having parents navigating, and a great opportunity to realize that though they may miss their parents, they are happy and thrive without them.

As parents, our job is to help our children become independent, self reliant and resilient.  Summer camp is an important opportunity for children to experiment with that independence.

Our summer Trustee gathering is held over two days during the camp season. Our meetings take place in a building right beside the camp bell, in the center of camp activity. I always take a seat that allows me to see campers moving around our wonderful campus.  Free of cell phones and computers, Ipods and other devices, the campers walk and talk in groups, and always look free and happy.   My favorite part of the visit is our opportunity to share a meal and sing with campers at lunchtime. I’m love the singing and am reminded of the joy and the importance of an Eagle’s Nest Camp session.

Jean’s connection to Eagle’s Nest began in 1992, when the oldest of her three children began attending camp. Since then her children: Jon, Saul and Jennifer (OA Alumni Semester 22) have spent a combined 21 summers at Eagle’s Nest.  Jean is currently a school counselor at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland and has a private practice in Kensington, Maryland. She has dedicated her career to working with teenagers and their families.