FEB. 25, 2015
Keya Acharya is an 11th-grader from Chevy Chase, MD. Last year she participated in Hante Rocks and Rivers during which she and her group of 12 teenagers spent a week rock climbing, a week white water canoeing, and a week backpacking. She also learned wilderness and leadership skills.
Sometimes you just gotta do something that’s crazy, something that you question, question why you even signed up for this in the first place.
Sometimes you gotta get on a bus with 14 strangers just to see where adventure and wonder lead you, and just sometimes those same strangers become some sort of family to you.
Sometimes you gotta be terrified of the challenges life tosses at you, but once you push past the fear, you learn that this is the only way you’ll grow.
Sometimes you gotta take a leap of faith and trust your harness, ATC, and team so you can hang in mid air 200 feet up and stare at the endless mountains and blue sky.
Sometimes your boat flips time and time again just to reassure you that every time it happens, you’ll eventually be okay.
Sometimes you gotta wake up five different times in the middle of the night covered in rain just so you learn to appreciate the sun.
Sometimes you gotta smell sunscreen, bug spray, sweat, and lake water all mixed together just so you can love a breath of fresh air.
Sometimes you gotta leave your music and phone and internet at home so that you can realize that this world has more to offer you than Google.
Sometimes you just gotta push through and keep climbing the mountain of life and
Sometimes you slip and slide…
The world’s so much more beautiful when you learn to stand up even if you’re covered in bruises and cuts. If you don’t have an ounce of fear then you’re not pushing yourself hard enough you see? I’ve realized that we better enjoy the moments when we’re completely terrified because those are the moments when we get just a little bit stronger.
Keya Acharya, Hante Participant
FEB. 4, 2015
Right about the time you receive your Hante Acceptance letter, you also get a letter talking about all the amazing adventures you will be taking part in. And somewhere in that letter it says to start “preparing”; wearing your hiking boots to walk around in, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, maybe even putting full water bottles in your pack to simulate backpacking weight. Somewhere in this process it dawns on you; This is more than just preparation, this is training. But that doesn’t make it bad. No, not at all, it actually makes it more exciting.
Some folks are worried, scared or daunted by the idea of training their bodies to become familiar with the movements, rhythms and exertions required for the activities during a Hante. But if we view this form an adventurous perspective, this is just another mountain in life that we must climb.
For me the mountain I am climbing is a long mountain. One that will take me almost 3,000 miles away to the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. This adventure started as a casual conversation with a friend, and quickly turned into a reality when lift and plane tickets got purchased. And even after the expenses and the reservations, it still hadn’t hit me that I might not be prepared for something this “BIG”. A few weeks back a good friend and long-time skier told me “Man, that sounds amazing. I love whistler, and so will you. Just make sure you wear a helmet…Oh yeah and I’d start training now if I were you!” Training? What did he mean training? I was going to spend 5 days on a “Ski Vacation”, not a downhill race course.
In the days to follow I remember thinking about how excited I was to explore the mountains for 5 days, then realizing that I may not have the physical stamina to follow my thoughts and dreams down every run. Then it dawned on me, that training is more than time trials and personal “bests”. It’s about setting your body up for success, so when you get “out there and in it” you can keep up with all the amazing things that are happening and take advantage of all the moments to find life and adventure. So I took my friend’s advice and put the rubber to the pavement, or treadmill, or bike pedals. I took this as an opportunity to see how prepared and active I could be for this adventure, while also enjoying the moments of pushing myself to run farther, bike faster, and squat and lunge more than ever.
Hantes offer amazing adventure in your life, but like all things, it is what you bring that helps make the adventure even greater. I challenge everyone, whether preparing for a Hante or just starting a new year, to relish the challenges in life. They may be physical, they may be mental, sometimes it is the mountain that you have put in front of yourself, or it is the mountain that stands in your path. But with fortitude and the right attitude, you are bound for success, just remember that it is your adventure, so don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
Marlin Sill, Hante Director
JAN. 29, 2015
I was recently inspired by this image I saw from artist Michael Penderson titled Five Ways to Use This Park.
As I read his suggestions sitting at my desk in front of a computer screen, I could imagine doing all of those things. In fact I wanted to go outside right away, find a park and go for it. Suggestion one is my favorite, it recommends climbing a tree until you feel you have gone too far, then climb one branch higher before hugging said tree and surveying your surroundings for 15 minutes. Imagine what you would see. Imagine how you would feel to accept his challenge of climbing one branch higher. Imagine sitting still in a tree for 15 minutes!
Think for a second about that challenge of climbing one branch higher. There are some times in your life when you want to stop on the branch where you feel comfortable and hug the tree. Why not? It is high enough right? By stopping early you may be denying yourself the opportunity of an unbelievable view, experience, and sense of accomplishment at overcoming a frightening challenge.
For some campers leaving camp for a Hante Adventure is just like leaving that lower branch. You are nervous and excited about the adventure that Hiking the AT or Paddling the French Broad will bring, yet leaving the comfort of your cabin and the dining hall seems daunting. I felt the same way before my first experience as an adventure camper. I signed up for a rock climbing adventure week having only ever climbed at the climbing wall at my camp. Would this adventure be the same camp experience that I loved? Would my counselors be able to bring what it is I love about camp on the trail with us?
The answer is yes! I had an amazing time with my “cabin” of boys and girls on the trip. Spending hours climbing or in the van singing songs, talking, joking, laughing, and setting up camp in each new destination. We created our own portable camp community complete with a custom flag for our trip. My counselors and fellow campers made me feel encouraged and supported as I conquered my fear and climbed some really high climbs.
Leaving the camp I was familiar with for an adventure session was a challenge, but I am so thankful that I dared to take the next step and experience the view from the top.
Krista White, Camp Program Manager
DEC. 16, 2014
The longest night of the year is drawing near and while there is much of winter ahead of us we know it is a joyful time to celebrate the turning of the tide when our days will grow long again. In age old traditions around the world this point in the year has been celebrated and honored.
As I write this our Outdoor Academy students are out on their final solo adventures for the semester. They are spending two nights out by themselves, in their own little tarp, with their sleeping bags and provisions watching and feeling the coming of the sunrises and the sunsets, fully knowing that cycle. We build this time for reflection on their OA adventures and to give them quiet time to project into their journey home. I love it that this solo also comes very close to the Winter Solstice which, this year, is Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 6:03 PM EST. With a waning moon, clear skies, coyotes on the mountain, owls and many other creatures of the night, this adventure will be one that is carried in their hearts forever.
This Winter Solstice I encourage you to find your mini adventure and celebrate the end of shortening days and the beginning of a trek back toward the long days of summer. Maybe you can have your own solo adventure on a starry, frosty night hike or maybe you can create a luminary path to encourage the sun to come back to its full glory. Whatever it is, know the next solstice will come in the summer when we meet together at Eagle’s Nest Camp and on Hante Adventures around the world. The longest night? The night to dream big where your next adventure could take you!
Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director
OCT. 3, 2014
My first experience with Eagle’s Nest was coming in as a new staff member for Camp Staff Climbing Clinic. I was brand new to The Nest, Staff, and the climbing program. And on that first day Driving out to The Glass with “Axel” Steel, Jay Young and some other choice staff, a strangely humorous song came on the radio. Leave it up to 88.7, WNCW, to put on some funky stuff. Before I knew it we had found our theme song for the summer. A funky beated, slightly symcopated, slow talk bee-pop tellin’ us “you gotta know tricks. You gotta have skills.”
We were never able to find out the name of the song, who sang it, and I haven’t been able to find it or hear it again, but it did leave me with this desire to hone my skills, fill up my bag of tricks and spend my summer “workin’ it”. That year I learned the nuances necessary for trad climbing and institutional climbing programs. And it didn’t stop there. I made a point to develop skills in all the areas I enjoyed.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t young enough to go on a Hante, or Added Adventure, but I was still able to get the knowledge and learn from the best. But I always wondered what it would be like to have been able to practice and work all those skills 5 years earlier.
Hante’s are the perfect opportunity to explore activities you love, or want to develop. Rox and Rivers is a perfect catch all; A Best of the Wild Nest; A Tour de Force of WNC. This past summer 12 students had their chance to progress through some of WNC’s best sites. Paddling down the Nantahala, Climbing at Table Rock, and summiting peaks in Pisgah. These kids left their Hante with great friends, awesome memories, and some mad skillz! And this summer, is your chance. Take a couple weeks to do things you love, or something you’ve dreamed of doing. Come get the skills and experiences it takes to be wilderness leader. Make the memories that will last a lifetime, and the foundation for a chance to become the adventurer you’ve always wanted to be.
What are you waiting for? There is a summer of skills, tricks, love and life waiting for you. All you have to do is turn up the radio, listen to the sounds, and answer the call of adventure.
JUN. 26, 2014
Over the course of my time at Eagle’s Nest I’ve led 6 Hantes (3 bike treks and 3 Appalachian Trail treks). My husband Andy has probably led at least 15 Hantes (bike treks, AT Treks, Hante Skills, and international Hantes to Iceland, Mexico, and Australia). Both of us have gained so much from our experience as Hante leaders: a deeper connection to nature, a greater understanding of community, confidence, joy, resilience. From my personal experience on Hante, and from watching so many campers “go away and learn” on Hante, I know that Hante truly is the Hero’s journey and the pinnacle of the camp experience. I’m thrilled that my son, along with 11 other teenagers (4 others who are second generation Eagles Nesters), is participating in his first Hante this summer.
For the next 2 ½ weeks Finn will be white water canoeing, rock climbing and backpacking throughout our mountains as part of the Rocks and Rivers Hante (you old schoolers might remember this as Hante Skills). They’ve spent the last two days paddling on the Tuckasegee and today they are paddling down the Nantahala. Their climbing section starts on Sunday, and they will finish with a student planned, 5-day backpacking expedition.
Finn has been paddling at camp for years, so he feels comfortable on the river. I know that he’ll be able to gain valuable leadership experience during this section by helping to teach and lead the less experienced participants. I know that being in this position will boost his confidence, and I’m excited that he’ll have that opportunity. Even though he prefers to be on the river, he’s also had experience rock climbing and feels comfortable on the rock. Even so, I know that he’ll be able to push himself and gain new skills while climbing with friends who have taken Advanced Rock Climbing at camp year after year. It will be nice for him to be in the “follower” role too.
The backpacking section of the Hante will probably be the most challenging for him. Despite my advice (and nagging) his hiking boots are pretty new, and haven’t spent much time on his feet. I can imagine that he’ll probably get blisters. His backpack is also going to feel really heavy on his still small frame. From my experiences on the AT, I know what it’s like to hike up and down hills for miles in all kinds of weather. I know how defeated you can feel when you reach a false summit, only to turn the bend and see that the trail keeps going up, I remember the feeling of the weight of your pack on your shoulders and on your hips as you trudge along, and I know how sore all of your muscles are when you’re trying to cook pasta at the end of a long day of hiking. I also remember the joy that fills you when you reach a beautiful view, or hike alongside a singing stream. And I know the pride you feel when you complete an epic journey, and how that experience carries you through other challenging experiences in life.
I know that Finn will be able to push through any discomfort that he faces, and I’m already so proud of him. I’m looking forward to his stories and his growth.