FEB. 8, 2017
What do you do when you have a disagreement with someone? What if that person was in many of your classes at school, did chores with you, and slept in the bunk next to yours? Learning how to resolve interpersonal conflict is a skill we teach early on at OA. The honeymoon phase only lasts a few weeks, and then it is completely normal for any group to enter into sibling-like behavior, which can include not only great fun and laughter, but also some squabbling and eye-rolling. With principles such as Integrity and Self-Reliance, not to mention a cornerstone of Community, we value timely, compassionate, assertive and empathetic feedback as a way to keep our community healthy and happy.
Last weekend, students learned and then practiced how to give and receive feedback. They learned how to use “I” statements, choose an accurate feeling word, explain why they felt a certain way, and follow it with a request. The finished product might sound something like this: “I felt disrespected tonight when you laughed during my dinner announcement, because I was already nervous and I needed your support. Next time will you please not laugh when I’m speaking in front of the group?” This clear, concise way of communicating allows the speaker to share her or his experience of the situation, while eliminating a blaming, shaming tone usually found in “you” statements. Students also learned how to VOMP, which is a conflict resolution style used for more intense disagreements. VOMPing is a back-and-forth conversation that goes through four steps. The first step is Voice, where one person shares her or his side of the argument, while the other person listens. The second step is for each person to Own her or his part of the argument, acknowledging anything that she or he might have done to add to the disagreement. The third step is to share eMpathy for what the other person experienced, talking through what it might have been like for that person, such as what that person might have been feeling. During the eMpathy step, the discussion usually softens and both participants are allowed the space to feel the vulnerability of the other. Finally, the two participants make a Plan in order to avoid further miscommunications. These are challenging skills to master, but it is our hope to build a culture of feedback and respect during the OA semester by taking the risk to deal with things directly. It is important for students to feel empowered to offer and receive feedback from all members of the community in order for each of us to move towards becoming the best “self” we can be.
Susan Daily, Dean of Students
FEB. 7, 2017
Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy are hitting the road this winter and spring! There are great opportunities for you to meet new friends or reconnect with the old at Regional Alumni Gatherings in your city!
Last week Liz Snyder travelled to our nation’s capital and hosted a really fun Happy Hour event at District Kitchen in Woodley Park. This group of “Capital Nesters” has been getting together frequently over the years, and in 2016 they collectively donated over $3,000 for scholarships for other DC area kids to attend camp and OA. What a cool way to give back to a place that we all know and love! This year, their goal is to raise $5,000, providing even more youth with the transformative experience of natural living.
To all those living in the Lone Star State: Reily, OA Admissions Counselor, is coming to Texas this week! She is hosting Open Houses in Austin and Houston for prospective students, then going out on the town to meet with Alumni! Reily, a semester 25 alumna, is excited to meet and greet other alums in the area. Join her in Austin on Friday, February 10th at Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery , and in Houston on Sunday, February 12th at Goode Company BBQ.
Austin Tx Alumni Gathering Details
Houston Alumni Gathering Details
We are hosting many more events around the country in 2017…with dates and locations to be announced soon and in the Spring edition of The Eagle, our bi-annual newsletter! If you would like to receive a print version of this newsletter (and have not in the past…) fill out this online form with your contact information!
Looking forward to seeing all you alumni out there this year!
Cara Varney, Development Director
DEC. 5, 2016
I was thinking about the feelings of the students days before our Thanksgiving break. They were excited and a little nervous about it. I asked Mary-Lawson Cox, one of my Semester 43 Spanish students, her thoughts about the week away from the Outdoor Academy. This is what she wrote, and I want to share with all of you.
As students go home to their families, we all will reflect on our time that has been spent at the Outdoor Academy. We will share our experiences and new traditions that we have learned, one of them being the idea of giving thanks. Before every meal, we all hold hands and take time to think of all of the things we are thankful for. One person will say “Give thanks!” with the rest of us following. It is the little moments like these, the gratitude given for your meal, the squeeze of your neighbor’s hand, or the verbal act of saying what you appreciate that makes a community come together. I know I can speak for everyone when I say that this break has given us the time to think about what a true community is. A community is a place where you can come together with one another and grow as both a member and as an individual. It is a place where you feel most loved and you feel you can be your truest self. We are thankful for the time we have spent with our families but are excited to return home to the mountains where we can give thanks for the rest of the time we have on our journey.
Mary-Lawson Cox, a student attending the Outdoor Academy
Thank you Mary-Lawson for these words and let’s Give Thanks always!
Rodrigo Vargas, Spanish Teacher
NOV. 29, 2016
Yes, last year we raised over $3,000 in a single day from wonderful donors and friends. Yes, non-profits around the world are using #GivingTuesday as a way to kick start their fundraising efforts. And yes, we would love for you to make a donation today. But what is the bigger picture? Why is it so important to show this support and raise awareness for our causes?
I like to think this is a global effort to “give thanks” for all the people doing good in this world. Today is more than a day of fundraising, it is a day to educate ourselves on all the wonderful organizations, hardworking individuals, and unique missions that exist worldwide, and right here at home.
This is a MOVEMENT. A way to show that good really does prevail. A way to feel connected, peaceful and kind. Being part of #GivingTuesday is kind of like Giving Day at Eagle’s Nest- you do it for the other person, but find that you can gain just as much by making a gift with your own hands.
I know that I am thankful every day to be a part of the Eagle’s Nest and OA community. A place where I can be myself, laugh with good friends, and escape into the forest to sit among the trees to count my blessings.
Join Eagle’s Nest and thousands of others TODAY and make #GivingTuesday a part of your giving plans each year! 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 on social media and show your support:
- Make a post to your personal social media account(s)…email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. about #GivingTuesday
- Share our posts with your friends!
- Use our #hashtags (#GivingTuesday, #foreverournest #gratitudeproject) and @accounts (@eaglesnest_hanteadv, @outdooracademy)
- Make a donation!
- TELL YOUR STORY OF SUPPORT, and encourage others to visit our giving page online www.enf.org/givenow
Cara Varney, Annual Fund & Alumni Manager
NOV. 18, 2016
Smoke is in the air at The Outdoor Academy. For the past week, we have breathed the exhaust of external fires, questioned the effect of drought on our temperate rainforest, and caught echoes of political turmoil swirling through the U.S. Yet, it seems turbulence in the larger world has little power to negatively influence our small community. We continue to chug along despite the harsh climate, singing a mantra of ‘I think I can, I think I can.’ Or perhaps, ‘Inch by inch, row by row’ may be more accurate for readers familiar with our Eagle’s Nest repertoire.
At the beginning of the week the students took pleasure in the smoky red super-moon, curling howls into the cold, fall air. Some of my peers on the faculty undoubtedly joined them from the top of Looking Glass rock, after completing a night-climb of the classic North Carolina Route ‘The Nose.” In the world of intellect, my students in Algebra II powered through our last week of class before break. The entire class of Environmental Seminar wrote letters to their respective senators outlining steps we may take as a country regarding environmental policy, putting to use the knowledge they’ve earned. And, as always, our faculty meeting last night resounded with reports of this or that student stepping up in Crafts, English, or Science.
I see now I misspoke earlier; our community is not just chugging along, we are thriving. The smoke of external fires does nothing to slow our progress ever forward. At the core, we at the OA try never to see problems, only challenges. A step on the crumbling edge of the trail with a heavy pack, a fall to a twisted ankle; these are elements to a recipe for a painful and challenging trek. However, there also lies the chance to find new strength, to learn reliance on your peers, to find further limits to your endurance, to ice your swollen ankle in the freezing skinny-dip falls, and to feel the wonderful warmth return when you can bear the water no longer. These are the lessons our students will remember the longest, when things were dang hard, and they kept moving anyway. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, I am most thankful for the inevitable proof our students give that there is no hill too big to climb together (I think I can, I think I can).
Math Teacher, Medical Coordinator, and Wilderness Instructor
NOV. 7, 2016
Community is one of our four Cornerstones here at The Outdoor Academy. It is a main focus of our students’ education during each semester. We have Community Meetings weekly that provide a space for the students to come together to work through issues or develop plans for student driven initiatives. We eat meals together as a community, we make decisions as a community, we experience the highs and lows of life as a community. Community is more than a number of people who coexist together in the same location. It is a body of people who genuinely care about each other and want to grow together.
Our community nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina is so strong that, oftentimes, it is easy to forget that the world moves on outside these mountains. We all know, however, that very important national events are stirring beyond our idyllic campus. During this historic presidential election, Semester 43 is taking the initiative to witness these events that will certainly affect their lives, perhaps profoundly.
At our last Community Meeting the students brought a plan to the community to ensure their presence during the live broadcast of the presidential results. Students worked together to develop a plan that included equipment, faculty and staff involvement, and timing. The hunger for knowledge, the drive to be part of something bigger than themselves, and the fact that these students are not able to cast their personal vote for a candidate speaks volumes of the ownership they exhibit for their own learning and place in this world.
To add to the election night interest, Roger, Director of The Outdoor Academy, has been supplementing media stories of this election with insights from political science, which he has offered the community during daily announcements and also down times throughout the day. Questions such as ‘What is the Electoral College?’ and ‘Where does my vote go?’ are abundant. These future voters are getting more than a current news story; they are learning how a president comes to be. They have a chance in my class to study the electoral map and calculate mathematically the various scenarios that would lead one candidate or the other to the White House.
It is incredible to serve at a school where a student can be interested in something and seek it out, with enthusiasm. It is incredible to serve at a school where faculty and staff jump in with both feet in order to guide students in finding answers and solutions to the questions they’re asking. And it’s no wonder that the sentiment expressed at our last faculty meeting was: “Aren’t we lucky to teach these students?” Our answer was yes, we are. We definitely are.
Racheal Duffy, Math Teacher and Wilderness Leader