I wanted to go on a Hante before I knew what a Hante was. The reason I got into any Eagle’s Nest programs at all was because I wanted to get into backpacking. My mom found out about Eagle’s Nest from friends and from there our family learned about Hante. I wanted to go ahead and do AT trek without doing any years at camp, which I’m glad I didn’t. I ended up going to camp for three weeks for my first year with Eagle’s Nest. I learned so much, made so many new friends, and had so much fun. I fell in love with Eagle’s Nest and knew I wanted to come back

I decided to do AT Trek Virginia my second year at camp, everything that I said about my first year at camp applies to my experiences on AT Trek but even more so. I felt much more comfortable my second year with Eagle’s Nest. It gave me an opportunity to see how people at Eagle’s Nest are. I think that if I had jumped straight into a Hante I would have been overwhelmed, nervous, and shy. I was still like this but less so than I would have been if I had not gone to camp for three weeks.

My experiences with Hante differs from camp in a couple of ways. I think that when I finished my first and second Hantes I had much more self confidence than I had before the Hantes. I also became much closer to the campers and counselors that you go on Hantes with. One reason I like Hantes and camp so much is that nobody judges you. Everybody is okay with anything. There are no standards for how goofy you should act so it creates a really friendly vibe. I made really close friends on Hante, you kinda have to. Whether or not you like the people at the start of the trip or even at the end you are gonna know them really well and your gonna have to learn to work with people very different from you by the end of the trip.

I came back from Hante feeling like I could do anything. I had found something inside myself that I hadn’t felt before. I’m sure it is partly due to the people that you go on Hantes with.  They are the most encouraging and wonderful people in the world; they make you feel like you can do anything. Before I started both of my Hantes there was a little bit of me that was super nervous just because I had never done anything like them before. Sure there was a short 3 day backpacking trip that I did with camp but nothing super serious like a Hante. I was also nervous that the people I would be going on the trip with wouldn’t like me. I had no reason to be worried, everybody made me feel welcome and loved, and the counselors are amazing teachers. While the counselors are definitely great teachers they also feel like they are looking for the same experience as you are, and they always want to hang out with you just like other campers do, so they never feel above you or anything like that.

Overall I came out of Hante learning new things, feeling better about myself, and with relationships you can’t find anywhere else.

By Cole McMahon, Hante AT Trek VA 2017, Hante British Columbia 2018