Johan and Marlin do East Tennessee
As many of you know, Eagle’s Nest Camp runs these little things called ‘Added Adventures’ where 5-7th grade campers can, in the middle of a camp session, go out on week long adventure to really supplement and enhance their camp experience. It really is a great introduction to enjoying the wilderness at a relatively tender age. One of these adventures would be the ‘Huck Finn Adventure’ where campers float down the French Broad River on a homemade raft and camp out on the banks of the river.
Perhaps unlike the days of Huck himself, to successfully pull off a trip such as this requires the help of those individuals that find themselves located on the banks of the river, our awesome volunteer hosts. Some have been on board for many years and some have only recently opened their lawns to the somewhat smelly Huckers that showed up on their doorstep. Whatever the case, Hante Coordinator Marlin Sill thought it prudent to get out of the office and meet with these people personally and thank them for making our lives as coordinators and instructors easier. As the resident visual wizard here at the Nest, I got to go along and take pictures of the locations to give next year’s instructors a visual of every take out location on the trip.
So we set out at the tail end of the epic rains we experienced in the Southeast recently. We packed for two days of cold rain, though on the drive to the put in, we realized that our trip would turn out very differently. We had gorgeous sunshine and clear skies for two days, and not a drop of sunscreen. Can anyone say ‘Lobster’?
Sure enough, we met with our hosts and not only were they excited to meet us, but to allow our 2016 Huckers to stay with them again. We also got to stay over at the man-cave/river lounge of our newest host, Jeff Gregory. The 2015 Huck Finn gang landed on his doorstep after being rerouted and in need of a patch of dirt for the night. Jeff gladly invited them into his river lounge and a relationship was formed. He’s excited to see the next raft full of kids rock up to his boat ramp and from what we’ve seen, the adventurers will be in for a treat. Being the only people on the river for two days, we also got to experience lots of wildlife including a host of great blue herons, an adolescent bald eagle, turtles ‘jumping’ off of logs and an otter. The many big fish jumping around us also made Marlin and I wish we had brought some fishin’ line, but we left them unbothered for the next round of adventurers.
Shortly after the trip, we got a letter back from the Julian family stating their willingness and excitement to host our kids. In the letter there was something that stood out to me: a profound statement about why they’re always willing to help us out. The statement read: “We like to help young people grow into good people.” Simple and spot-on. This is what we do at the Nest. This is why we go on Hante Adventures and Added Adventures. We introduce young people to the natural world they occupy, which in this day and age, is something to get excited about. When our kids go out on adventures and meet people like our Huck hosts, it shows them what it is to be your best self. And that’s our business at Eagle’s Nest.
We are so grateful to the kind folks who help us out and share what they have with our campers and adventurers. The Eagle’s Nest ethos beats in the hearts of the fine people on the banks of the French Broad in East Tennessee.
Johan Taljaard, Social Media Coordinator