Over many summers at camp I’ve been able to witness the power Hante has on profoundly affecting teens. I’ve seen it first hand as leader of Hante AT Trek, helping campers shouldering heavy packs to “dig deep” when they feel that they can’t take another step. I’ve seen it in the the joy on participants’ faces as they return home to camp to be celebrated for completing their “Hero’s Journey”. I have heard it in listening to my son Finn’s stories of wonder at seeing a glacier for the first time, or of his appreciation for being able to share genuine compliments with a group of peers at the end of his three-week journey. Countless teens, including my own, have told me that Hante was “life changing” for them. Many have even written college essays about the experience. Each year I try to share that excitement with campers who love camp so much, though they are reluctant to step out on a Hante Adventure. Recently, a couple of Hante Alums have shared some of their thoughts about Hante with me, and I wanted to share their words with you.
Thoughts on doing something new and unknown: It takes a lot to sacrifice the comforts of our lives in exchange for an experience we know almost nothing about before we commit to it. However, that’s the very thing that keeps me coming back to Eagle’s Nest every year; the excitement of living in the moment and never knowing what to expect next.
Thoughts on the group experience and friendships formed on Hante: Each Hante has a completely different culture that springs forth as a result of the personality and energy that each member brings to the group. Over the course of three weeks, this culture becomes more defined with each and every day as the members of the Hante become closer, more comfortable expressing themselves, and less afraid to take risks. This culture and closeness also forms from the challenges that a group faces together. Nothing makes you closer to someone than hiking up a mountain in a rain with them while you both carry heavy packs, and nothing feels more gratifying than getting to the top of that mountain and seeing the gorgeous view that you worked so hard to get to see with the same people you struggled to the top of the mountain with.
Thoughts on work ethic: One valuable skill that I learned on Hante was the importance of a good work ethic. We’d get to camp after a long, hard day of hiking, and I’d be ready to go to sleep, but I realized quickly that getting to camp didn’t signify the end of the day. I had to keep up my work mentality. I’d take off my boots, put on my sneakers and start on dinner. It was hard to get up and working at first, but once we got started it was easy and even fun – surrounded by so many of my friends all busy working, talking and laughing. What I also learned on Hante is that the harder I worked, the better dinner tasted. Hard work, with the right mindset, can be fun and is surely rewarding.
Thoughts on the challenges that you may face on Hante: Sometimes the challenge is paddling through a super strong rapid, or setting up a campsite in the dark, or even striking up a conversation with that one kid in the group who’s not quite as out-going as everyone else and needs a little extra help opening up to everybody. There are two things that all of these obstacles have in common: One – all of these obstacles are conquerable with the help of Eagle’s Nests spectacular instructors and your peers, and Two – there’s not a feeling in the world as satisfying as completing these challenges. They will make you grow as a person in ways you might not even realize.
Thoughts on what you learn on Hante: I can say from personal experience that I’ve grown a lot on Hantes. They teach you to be held accountable for your own actions and the actions of your group members in ways that aren’t able to be taught in a classroom.
Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone a little and have a life changing experience? Sign up for Hante today. This summer you could find yourself exploring Northern Italy, climbing and sea kayaking in Maine, hiking a 100-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, or canoeing down the French Broad river. For more information visit our website.
Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director