Working At Night Eagle
As you search for summer employment in the field of camping, it is
as important that you investigate the camp and people who direct it,
as it is that they investigate you. If you believe in the camp's philoso-
phy and goals and are comfortable with the program offered, you will
do a good job for the campers and the camp. While here are many
similarities among camps, each is different. Below is an attempt to
explain some of the ways that Night Eagle is a unique working environ-
Activities and trips out of camp are planned during a weekly staff meet-
ing, but can be changed at the last minute in order to take advantage of
weather, guest instructors, etc. There is a daily planned program, and
every counselor must be innovative in offering activities that teach basic
skills and values. Although we, as staff, participate in the activities, we
do not try to dominate them. And, we never do for a boy what he can do for himself. Instead, we constantly try to find ways to let each camper do well.
At Night Eagle we simplify our lives and reduce our dependence upon material things. We make the campers aware of concerns of society and try to teach them that they can make a difference in the world.
We supervise the campers closely to ensure that the freedom of one child is not taken as permission to interfere with the freedom of another, and we look beyond outward behavior to try to discover its underlying causes. Because we are trying to develop a sense of security in the world, we are careful to make sure that no child is teased, scared by ghost stories, or intimidated by pranks in the name of fun.
The spiritual dimension of life is very important at Night Eagle, so we want staff members who are interested in growing with us in this area. Young people today desperately need the hope that comes from a belief in things beyond themselves, and we feel that it is easier for campers to develop that hope if we as counselors are secure in our own outlook toward life.
Finally, we develop opportunities for work through chores and work projects so boys feel useful and needed. Therefore we need staff who find physical work invigorating and fun. This may sound like a tall order for one summer, but keep in mind that much strength and support come from fellow staff members and, in some cases, from the campers, themselves.
"Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."
- Indian Proverb
Decentralized and Non-regimented
Decentralized and non-regimented means that we like to give our campers as much choice as possible in choosing their daily activities. Activities are scheduled, but campers are not. Each morning after breakfast and again after rest hour, counselors announce the activities that they will be leading. Campers may then go to the counselor who will be leading the activities they are interested in. There are no bells or conches to interrupt the activities. Both the morning and the afternoon activities are approximately two hours long, which gives the counselors and their campers ample time to delve into their activity, whether it be treehouse building, canoeing, stalking and camouflage, or atlatl carving and throwing, and have fun learning and playing.
Boys mature by learning independence, self-discipline, and initiative, and many of the activities we offer require all three of these qualities. For example, after a boy has made his personal bow drill set, he can be seen at various times during the day (rest hour, before or after meals) practicing as he learns how to get a coal. And more often than not, he will be surrounded by campers and staff members encouraging him and offering tips. When he is finally successful in starting his first bow drill fire, the entire camp celebrates his accomplishment. There are usually many failures before that happens, but we believe effort and reward are related, and we also know that the reward is always sweeter when it is earned.
Night Eagle uses activities as a means of promoting positive boy-adult
contact. With some, campers building those relationships is easy and
enjoyable, but with others it may be difficult and challenging. Listen-
ing to boys and respecting their feelings is important as it shows you
care. Adventure and laughter is a big part of their world and sharing
that with them is exciting. Boys need praise after an accomplishment
and encouragement after a difficult day. When they are given direc-
tions, they need to be given explanations. Older boys, especially, need
to be heard, to have attention paid to them, and to feel special.
Because we are an all-boys camp, we feel that this type of interaction with adults gives boys an opportunity to experience positive growth and to develop social skills away from the pressures placed on them by society.
Words from former counselors . . .
“I just wanted to thank all of you for the wonderful past three years I have had at camp. My experiences at Night Eagle taught me much about patience, honor, and the natural world, and have helped to strengthen my faith more than probably anything else. It is difficult to put my gratitude in words.”
- Earth Song (NY)
"Hi Arctic Arrow, it's been a few years since I've been back at Night Eagle. It's hard to believe how much I've grown from the person I was back then. I took up a passion for wildlife photography and conservation, and I'll be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a freshman in the fall. The camp had a profound impact on my life and I think back on the lessons I learned there almost every day. The teachings of the Lakota still resonate with me in everything I do. You exemplify what it means to be an educator and have made a positive impact on so many people's lives."
-Heart Spirit (MA)
“I just wanted to write and say thank you for the opportunity this past summer. I had an incredible time at camp. Being a counselor at Night Eagle gives you the ability to really teach children, because it is not only direct teaching but teaching through being a role model. The way I was able to teach wilderness skills as well as spirituality and just how to be a good human is incredible. I am so grateful that you have done the hard work to create a camp like you did. It is helping to heal this earth.”
- Earth Spirit (VT)
"There is truly something magical at Night Eagle. My short time there had a much larger impact on my life than I would have ever imagined. I doubt you need to hear it, but the world that you create there is a rare gem in today's world that can barely define what true masculinity is. In all my travels and experiences across the country, I have never found a more safe, secure, and truly genuine expression of what boyhood (and manhood) should be than at Night Eagle.
Night Eagle is a rare opportunity for boys to experience what boyhood was meant to be. Away from the pressure and misguidance of today's society, it frees a boy to simply be a boy and celebrates all the little miracles along the way. In hindsight, it allows even young men to grow, mature, make mistakes and still, long after leaving, have it remain in his heart.
There are few things on this planet worth really fighting for. Boyhood (and those who strive to give them the opportunity to experience it) are definitely two of those things that need to be protected. You are truly a man among men, and I am so thankful to have been a part of your world."
- Kola Sees the Heart (NV)
“It must be magic,” says Sun Spirit (camper 2004-2008) in a recent interview with Bay State Parent magazine, “because the math doesn’t add up. Friends made in a few weeks at Night Eagle will feel closer than friends you’ve had for years in the "real" world. And this connection, this togetherness, is something we are very conscious of at Night Eagle.
For one reason or another, society sets up a lot of barriers around boys. There are these ideas about manliness, there are stigmas around showing emotion, there is the pressure to perform and impress. We talk about these barriers and actively try to break them down, and the result is incredible; something I’ve never seen anywhere else.
Night Eagle gives boys the freedom to find out who they really are. Sometimes they’re surprised with what they find, but they’re never disappointed.”
- Sun Spirit (MA)
"You were the best camp director I ever had. You taught me so much about the importance of nature as well as the incredible value of living simply without all the technological clutter that has become part of most people’s daily life. Even if it is only possible to escape our “technological society” infrequently and for a short period of time, it is still SO incredibly valuable!
Thank you also for instilling in me such a strong love for the Lakota people as well as their beliefs and traditions. I feel that the time I was so fortunate to be able to spend at Night Eagle each summer between the ages of 11 and 15, and the experiences I had, were a significant contributing factor in my decision to volunteer with a non-profit organization called Simply Smile last summer and this summer. As a volunteer I helped to run a summer camp for American Indian children and teens on a reservation in South Dakota. As a result of my experiences volunteering, I believe I have discovered what I can/want to do with my degree after I graduate. Wishing you the best in this coming year. Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ!"
- Coyote Walks (MA )