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JAN. 30, 2013

Coming Together, Old and New at The Outdoor Academy

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It was opening day of Outdoor Academy Semester 36 and it felt more like summertime than January.  The temperature that day was supposed to reach 70 degrees.  I know we have had camp opening days in the summer that were colder than that.  What I really think was happening was that the energy from the 17 Eagle’s Nest Camp alumni who were heading to school that day had permeated Western North Carolina with a blanket of warmth.  Their excitement as they walked up the stairs to the Salt Mines was contagious, especially to those for whom this was their first journey to Eagle’s Nest.

It was wonderful to see those familiar faces and the new ones on the brink of a grand adventure.  Most had been campers for many years and had been anticipating their semester at OA for a long time.  Others had just learned about OA in the past year and knew it was the place for them.  All had worked hard for this day lining up their academic courses, raising funds for their tuition and saying good bye to home for probably the longest stretch of time they had ever experienced.

As we sat at our welcoming brunch, I was proud to see our long time Nesters reaching out and including their new class mates in discussions, explaining what a special place Eagle’s Nest was to them, and how while everything was very familiar, it was also new to them.    I witnessed qualities that we teach everyday to our campers and students being practiced right away; inclusion, acceptance, and genuine listening.  It was the first day of community building for this merry band of 24 students and they were well on their way.  I know they will face obstacles and challenges as their community gets to know it’s self more deeply over the next 4 months, but that is where the real growth for each member and the collective whole will occur.  That challenge and growth is what we hope and work for each semester and each session of every program we run at Eagle’s Nest Foundation.

Noni portrait

-Noni Waite-Kucera

Executive Director, Eagle’s Nest Foundation