FEB. 29, 2016
There are many barriers in our minds that can prevent us from taking the leap to traveling to new and unfamiliar places. I know when I started thinking about journeying to Israel for the first time, I was terrified. Every other place I’d traveled up until that point I felt prepared to visit and explore. Israel would be the first place where I would be alone. Where I would not be able to read, speak, or understand the language. In fact, it was an alphabet totally foreign to me. Even the culture, though I am Jew-“ish”, didn’t seem like something familiar or relatable. But, nonetheless, I went for it anyway. And I did it with a specific mindset; call it a rule if you will, that I made for myself somewhere in my mid twenties.
I would like to share with you a tip for anyone traveling, anywhere, for any reason, at any time. You do not necessarily need to speak the native language, or be terribly familiar with where you are going…EVER. In fact, there are really only 3 things I feel you must be able to do in order to conquer any language/cultural/distance/traveling barriers. In fact, of the 3 things I am about to tell you, you really only need to be really good at 2. Proficiency with all 3 is best, but being darn good at 2 will get you where you need to go. Are you ready? These are my 3 international, speaks to all souls “Languages” that transcend all cultures and will help you connect wherever you go: The ability to create music, the footwork and flair for dance, and the taste and palate to cook.
Let me explain a bit more. For those who can sing or play an instrument, you will quickly realize that we live in a time where technology has spread music all around the globe. That famous opening riff to “Hotel California” will likely raise eyebrows and likely incite others to sing along. And even if you can’t find a common song to play or sing, harmonies and melodies tend to have innate emotions that allow you to communicate sadness, anger, joy and excitement. Even the act of just playing music is enough to connect humans beyond the verbal realm. So learn to sing, or pick an instrument.
For those who may not be so inclined to creating music, the ability to follow it can help break the language barriers. Like music, dancing and its motions carry emotion and often raise endorphin levels, bringing smiles and laughter (a true universal language). If you have the ability to follow engage and move with others to music, you will quickly find that just the act of releasing energy with others is enough to speak to them. Any cultures still use forms of dance in their cultural rituals, and even in daily life. Be ready to shake it off, and even ready to bring your own moves to the floor, just be sure to keep the moves culturally conservative.
Unlike, music and dance, cooking is a different art. And when I say cooking, I also include the idea that you should have an open enough palate to be able to try and incorporate new flavors into your life. Many cultures see eating as a community and family experience, where they can share in the joy of nourishment. And when you are far from home, you will often find that the best way to tell others about yourself, is to show who you are through cooking and bringing what you can of your culture to theirs. Keep in mind that some cultures find it rude for guests to alter dishes that have been prepared, so be ready to eat things as they are served, and don’t forget to bring some treat to connect your heritage to them.
So next time you discount the idea of traveling to Sweden, or Asia, remember that language is just one barrier. That culture truly defines other places, and that you ability to be open to things that define culture, like music, dance and food, will more often than not, speak far more than the words you learned on duolingo. And don’t forget, these are all things that are great things to do in your “normal” life. They are the things that make life rich and vibrant, and will bring color and joy to wherever you go.
Marlin Sill, Wilderness Program Director
FEB. 15, 2016
On Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act establishing the National Park Service (NPS), a guarantee that the country’s national parks would be protected and preserved by the federal government. This year the National Park Service celebrates 100 years of parks in America. Thanks to their vision of nature and wildlife preservation, we now enjoy a vast network of 409 parks, forests, monuments, battlefields and coastline, places for people to go and enjoy the great outdoors.
Eagle’s Nest and Hante Adventures has had the unique opportunity to travel to many of our nations’ jewels. Last summer a handful of lucky young people travelled to the Pacific Northwest and Olympic National Park. “It was awesome! There were trees and they were really big, like seriously huge” says one of our 15 year-old adventurers. “I was inspired by the glaciers we saw there and did some research on them when I got home.” The lasting effects of wilderness experiences like these are important today in our increasingly diverse and urban nation, and all Americans should feel as if they own a piece of heritage in the treasures of National Parks.
“The terrain and wildlife were so varied, and we travelled from ridgeline to redwood forest to glaciers all over a few days.” explained another adventurer. “The experience makes me want to be a park ranger, even with the hat!”
For many, the national parks still evoke images of the great American road trip, a family jumping into their station wagon or SUV and heading out to Yosemite, Acadia, Yellowstone or Grand Teton. For Hante participants it is the chance to get into nature and discover that wildness is a necessity; the mountains are going home.
If you missed out on the chance to experience the PNW, good news, Hante Maine is looking for more young adventurers and will be traveling to Acadia National Park this summer! “I have been to Acadia NP before, it was so beautiful and I thought I would never have the chance to go back,” says a future Hante Maine voyager, “The parks are so well maintained, and I feel fortunate to experience the same things as people who lived 100 years ago did.”
The above mentioned young adventurers all believe that “the National Park Service is the best thing about America!” Last year, 292.8 million people visited park service sites, and in 2016 you can expect 16 days of free entrance into all of the parks! Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2016:
- January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- April 16 through 24: National Park Week
- August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
- September 24: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” John Muir- The Yosemite (1912)
Cara Varney, Development Assistant
FEB. 4, 2016
As hard as it is for me to believe, my youngest child will be starting high school next year. A few days ago we drove past the high school that she’ll attend. It was early afternoon during dismissal, and there were kids everywhere – so many more than at the tiny K – 8 school that she has attended since before she was 5-years-old. As we drove by I said “Wow! There are so many kids! Are you nervous about high school next year?” She responded that she was excited, but I’m sure that she has some trepidation about the transition from the school that has been home to her for so many years, to the much larger one. We’ll actually be going to her high school open house tonight. I can’t imagine what it will be like for her to walk through those halls for the first time, and to begin to see herself as a high schooler.
To help with transition to high school my daughter will be participating in Hante Appalachian Trail Trek this summer. She’s a little nervous about the Trek, and is worried that the hiking will be challenging at times. I know that she’ll encounter other challenges on the trip – group dynamics, setting up camp at the end of a long day of hiking, making the most of a burned meal, inclement weather, etc. – and I say “bring them on!” These challenges are not insurmountable. They will strengthen her character and build her confidence, which in turn will help her as she navigates the challenges of high school (challenges that make hiking a 100-miles with a backpack look like a walk in the park). Growing up is tough, and I want to give my children as many tools as they can to help them be as successful as possible. I know that participating in a Hante is a great tool.
I also know that it’ll be a lot of fun! On Hante, my 14-year-old daughter will be able to live simply for 3 weeks. She’ll be able to hike 100-miles through the beautiful mountains and balds of North Carolina with everything that she needs on her back. She’ll be able to wake to the songs of the birds, and to relax by a campfire under the stars at the end of the day. She’ll be able to feel the pleasure of cooling her feet in a mountain stream, and taste how good simple beans and rice are to a hungry hiker. She’ll enjoy being part of a small group of teens who can let go of being self-conscious and truly be themselves.
I know that she’ll come home filled with stories and trials and triumphs. I’m so excited for her journey and for how it will prepare her for her high school years.
Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director
JAN. 26, 2016
This is a guest post from three-time Hante Adventurer Diana Grandas. She ventured with us on Hante Colorado in 2013, Hante John Muir Trail in 2014, and Hante Pacific Northwest in 2015.
“The next leader of the day is… Diana!”
As these words were pronounced and I was passed the map and compass, I became flushed with emotions ranging from anxiety to motivation. From that moment on, I was in charge of my group: a congregation of teenagers in the middle of the Colorado backcountry. We were participants of Hante Adventures, an organization that sends wilderness trips to various locations across the globe. Along with backpacking over sixty miles in three weeks, we were expected to take responsibility for our actions and assume appropriate leadership roles that would benefit the group’s functionality and social dynamic. Although certified wilderness leaders officially led us, each member was challenged with the task of being the leader of the day. In this position, the leader would be in charge of the group as a whole, delegating tasks while at a campsite as well as keeping track of the groups needs during the strenuous day of hiking.
As I accepted the map and compass—the defining marker of the leader of the day—I realized this task would demand the greatest amount of leadership I had ever given. As a quiet and reserved fifteen year old, I had become accustomed to be a follower. While I would not detract from a group, I refrained from actively contributing, frightened my opinions and commands would be deemed as juvenile or ineffective. As Leader of the Day, I was put into a position where my judgment could make the day unbearable or extraordinary. A slow morning could mean a late night, with ravenous group members struggling to boil water for dinner in the dark. Inversely, an extremely intense focus on timing could result in the group feeling extremely rushed throughout the day and unable to appreciate the beautiful scenery of Colorado.
I started the day with an uneasy confidence, hesitant in my delegation and time reminders. To avoid being perceived as “bossy”, I attempted to do all the necessary tasks myself: I got water for the group, took down the bear bags, and helped take down the tents. This proved to not be very effective, and we were late getting out of camp.
Thankfully, we did not have a long day on trail, and it proved to be much easier to ask the group if they needed breaks than tell them to do things. Due to the short mileage, we finished our day with plenty of daylight remaining, and we could afford to take sufficient time setting up our camp and getting dinner started. While I did succeed in taking the group down the trail to the next campsite, I knew I had to refute my tentative nature in order to be an effective leader. I would have to be confident in my commands, motivating in my tone, and be constantly assessing the fine details as well as the big picture of the day.
Over the course of the past summers, I have had the privilege to participate on three Hante Adventures, the final two in California and Washington. Throughout these trips, I have been given ample opportunity to be leader of the day for diverse groups of people in extraordinary settings. From these experiences, I have grown from a passive leader to a person with skills in conducting a group in a strong and direct way. I have realized that being able to delegate tasks with confidence is a positive attribute, and those receiving direction will comply without complaint.
With the leadership skills I have gained from Hante, I am prepared to lead any group to their goal.
Diana Grandas, Hante Adventurer
DEC. 14, 2015
Hante AT Trek 1976 – Sam’s Gap to Laurel Fork Gorge
15 Years Old
July 12, 1st Day:
Hiked 6 miles. Sunny at first but changed to thunder storm on Big Bald Mtn. Got 3 bee stings at first of hike. Scott P. got lost and twisted ankle. Had peanut stew for dinner.
July 13, 2nd Day: Hiked 10 mi. Beautiful weather, sunny and warm. It was hard hiking today but we made it in about 4:00 PM. I twisted my ankle but it seems to be okay. For dinner we had spaghetti.
July 14, 3rd Day: Hiked 15 mi. We had great weather today. We started about 9:00 and hiked to the Nolichucky River. There we went swimming and washed our hair. We left the river about 2:00 and hiked until 8:00 which was quite unexpected. We missed Laurel Springs and ended up camping at Beauty Spot 4 miles later. We had Almond Rice for supper then went to bed about 12:00.
July 15, 4th Day: Free day. Today we didn’t do much of anything. We read aloud out of Walk About and hiked up to the bald. A couple came by and talked to us about the A.T. and then gave us a watermelon. We had potato fritters and Elderberry fritters for dinner.
July 16th 5th Day: Hiked 10 mi. When we started out it was cloudy but it soon cleared up. First off we climbed Unaka Mt. Then we went on to Cherry Shelter where we had lunch. Soon after that a thunder storm rolled in which continued until we reached our campsite. We camped in an apple orchard and had Bulgar Curry for supper.
That was the last entry for Hante 1976 but we went the full amazing 10 days. Flash forward 1 year and I again was out on the trail. The summer is 1977 and this time around the experience is different but also wonderful. My journal entries are also much longer this year so you’ll just get one.
Hante Trek 1977: Mt. Rogers – Laurel Fork Gorge
16 Years Old
Friday, July 22: What a beautiful camping spot! We’re up near the top of Mt. Rogers in a big field. There are a few stands of Spruce trees, but other than that they’re only crops of rocks, ferns and grass. The clouds are blowing right on us and I can hear a bird singing in the distance. The space reminds me so much of Scotland and the Moors around in the Lake District.
Today I think our whole group grew, each beginning to know the others better. By the end of the 10 days we’re surely all going to know everyone else’s fault and hopefully our own.
We’re having cheese rice for dinner and then we’ll all get a good night’s sleep on the soft grass. Tomorrow it is over Mt. Rogers!
Oh! We ate lunch at Old Orchard Shelter – what a view (if you could see through the clouds)!
It is so fun to read back through these entries and relive this trek – the details from my 16 year old brain help to bring back those 10 days on the trail. As I flip through the few pages of my journal from the next year, 1978 (Fontana Dam to Dick’s Creek Gap, Georgia), I see that my head was not into journaling. That summer became more a leadership summer for me and I think my need for writing was not there on that trip. That year was a year of pictures of which you see a few here.
Life on the trail is a journey, no matter how long you are out or how old you are. It is a place unlike any other to have space for reflection, to challenge your endurance, to build friendships and life live fully immersed in the natural world. I encourage you to step out this summer and go on your own Hante – you will never regret it!
Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director
NOV. 25, 2015
- the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
It’s that time of year, the time when we start to reflect on all the events of the past eleven months. A time when we look forward to spending cool days with family and friends, eating comfort foods and telling stories. It is a time when we give thanks and share with the people we love.
The history of the first Thanksgiving is one with conflicting stories, but one thing most agree on it that it is a time to thank others for the blessings of the year. At Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy giving thanks and expressing gratitude are strong themes that grow into a common thread in the lives of the people here. We give thanks at meals, we offer love and gratitude to others daily, and this practice continues to build a meaningful and intentional community year after year. This thread weaves a tapestry that goes back years and generations, and will continue on with the cultivation of supporting and caring for others.
This season of Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. December 1st is #GivingTuesday. Now in its fourth year, this day is fueled by the power of collaboration, and the desire to help non-profits worldwide. Together with social media and individual donors, organizations have been able to raise vital funds to support their causes and programs.
It is not just that we feel grateful or express our thanks to others, but that we feel the sincere, intrinsic desire to give something back. For sometimes, when we express gratitude through words and deeds it enhances our own experiences of feeling grateful.
You just spent the weekend with your friends and family, perhaps braved the crowds and caught some Black Friday deals, now think about your family at the Nest, and what they mean to you. Join Eagle’s Nest and thousands of others on this day and make #GivingTuesday a part of your holiday tradition! Express your gratitude, for the community that is cultivated here, for the time we spend in nature, for simple living, and to become your best self.
We invite you to get involved in two ways.
Get busy on your social media pages:
- Make a few posts to your personal social media account(s)…email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. about #GivingTuesday
- Use our #hashtags (#GivingTuesday, #togetherENF) and @accounts (@eaglesnest_hanteadv, @outdooracademy)
- Make a donation! (on December 1st)
- TELL YOUR STORY OF SUPPORT, and encourage others to visit our giving page online www.enf.org/givenow
OR Give us your testimonial, photo, #UNselfie, and donation, and we will post it on our pages in your honor!
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John F. Kennedy
Cara Varney, Development Assistant