As veteran trip leader Rodrigo Vargas prepares for his 22nd summer leading Hante Adventures for Eagle’s Nest, we spent some time with him learning why he comes back summer after summer.
How many years have you been leading Hante Adventures?
I have led Hante Adventures since 1998. My first Hante Adventure was with Helen in Mexico!
Why do you lead Hante Adventures?
I love to see the kids experiencing new cultures and facing physical and mental challenges together. For many participants, this is the first time they have traveled outside of the United States. Going on a Hante Adventures opens their perspectives to be more accepting and understanding of other people and appreciate differences in cultures and perspectives.
What do you hope participants will gain from going on Hante?
I hope participants will become more confident in their abilities and their strength and that they will understand the power they have in shaping their future. Hante Adventures encourage participants to challenge themselves physically and mentally, learning new technical skills like climbing, canoeing, and backpacking and building endurance to participate in these activities. International Hante Adventures teach participants to be flexible. Traveling in a new country means things may not always go as planned but we can gain many valuable lessons from changing plans. I hope Hante Adventures will give participants a small taste of international travel and will spark a desire and curiosity to study other languages and cultures and to continue to travel as they get older.
Tell us about a memorable Hante Adventure.
Hante Spain and Hante Portual were unbelievable. We hiked El Camino which provided a physically, mentally, and spiritually rich experience for the participants and staff. The beautiful landscape touched my heart that summer and has remained with me ever since. The kids made connections with other hikers on the trails and when we made camp and we all gained an appreciation for the place—the landscapes, the history of the valley and the trail, and the modern culture. We shared stories with those we met and so many fellow hikers were so excited to see a group of American teenagers choosing to spend their summer immersing themselves in a cultural and wilderness experience like this one.
What sets Hante Adventures apart from other summer opportunities for teens?
Hante Adventures, along with all Eagle’s Nest programs, emphasizes the importance of physical and emotional health of the participants. We give students the opportunity to grow, learn, and step out of their comfort zones in a safe and supported environment. On Hante we give the participants the responsibility of shaping their experience. Participants take turns being a leader of the day in which they are responsible for making decision that affect the whole group.
You are leading Hante France next summer. What are you looking forward to?
I am so excited for Hante France. This Hante will put emphasis on developing a sense of place. We will spend time hiking the Stevenson Trail exploring the natural beauty of the region. During our hike we will read Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, for whom the trail is named. The story follows his journey through the region. We will then spend time in the village of St. Jean-du-Gard being immersed the local culture. We will learn the customs and traditions of daily life in this village to contextualize the culture of the region surrounding the trail.
By Sara Gerall