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THE SOAR BLOG

Next Generation of Campers

For 41 years SOAR has kept the tradition of serving youth and young adults with ADHD and other learning disabilities, giving them a summer experience that will last a lifetime. This summer we had the privilege of having a second generation come to camp, whose father attended 15 years ago.

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Alex Jones attended NC Academic Discovery in 2002, the summer between his junior and senior year of high school. He enjoyed his experience so much he wanted his son, Bryson, to experience SOAR as well.

“I wanted Bryson to realize at a young age what he was capable of and I knew from my experience that he would have a great time.”

Alex’s mom was a strong advocate for him as a child and wanted to give him in an opportunity where he could learn strategies as well as life skills at an early age. That is when she found SOAR. After Alex attended camp, he discovered he had leadership abilities, and was able to build on these leadership skills throughout his time here. He was also able to step outside of his comfort zone and wanted his son to have the same opportunities.

“Looking out over a valley after climbing 120 feet was a seminal moment for me and I wanted my son to have that same opportunity.”

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Bryson joined us this summer in our Llama Trek Adventure which is for 8-10 year old campers. The highlight of this trip is the 3 day, 2 night Llama Trek Expedition where the campers learn responsibility, perseverance, and are able to set goals as well as problem solve. Bryson enjoyed his camp experience and stated, “I did things I did not know I could do, like rock climbing and going down a class 3 rapid.” Alex was also happy with the experience and stated, “12 days for him to be unplugged was a blessing, to find a world beyond the screen.”

We are grateful for the opportunity to continue passing down our traditions at SOAR and look forward to inspiring the next generation of campers!

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Keeping Up with Friends From Camp

One of the most memorable parts of camp are the friendships formed between campers. Many campers arrive at SOAR feeling anxious about not knowing anyone but leave with a bittersweet sadness as friends go their separate ways and return home. For some campers, social skills come easy. They are outgoing, make friends in any group, and have a high level of social intelligence. More often than not, this is not the case, which is why camp is such a precious time when it comes to friendships.

For campers who typically struggle to make friends, two weeks at camp is like a whole school year back at home! Campers are immersed into a new environment, with new people, and WITHOUT distractions, especially electronic devices. They are also surrounded by counselors who understand and who can help guide them through social interactions and how to form positive relationships. They are working together as a team, experiencing new adventures, conquering fears, and reaching goals! To put it simply, making friends at camp is usually easier for most kids. Our goal for each camper is that the friends they’ve made at camp will be a part of their life long after camp is over.

Here are a few things you can do to help your child keep up with friends they made at camp.

Encourage Your Camper to Reach Out

Your camper’s End of Course Packet includes contact information for all of the campers in their course. Hopefully your child has introduced you or told you about some of the friends they’ve made. If not, take some time to go over the contact sheet with them. This will likely spark memories of camp and help your child initiate reaching out to some of their friends.

Plan To Meet Up

You might be surprised to find that some of your child’s camp friends live within driving distance! Contact their parents and set up a time to meet. This is one of the best ways to maintain relationships during the school year and helps to keep campers looking forward to coming back to camp, this time with their friend!

Join Our Parent Group

Our Summer Camp Parent Group on Facebook consists of current and former parents of SOAR campers! While most campers have their own social accounts and will likely find one another after camp, parents can also connect to help initiate meet ups or to simply encourage their campers to reach out. If you haven’t already joined, you can do so here. It is a private group.


Camper Letters Home

Day 2

Hi Mom and Dad,

I miss you so much. Yesterday was kind of boring. We played games to get to know everyone in my cabin once everyone got here. There is a kid, Zach, that talks a lot, like never shuts up, and another, Kevin that has not said a single word. Last night I think he was even more home sick than me. Why are you making me come here again? Today we are doing the high ropes course, I am excited for that. Maybe I’ll start to make friends. Make sure that you give Sampson hugs for me. Tell Jack to stay out of my room!

Ps: Send me candy!

Day 4

I did the high ropes course! I got to shoot Zach with a squirt gun as he was coming down the zipline. I don’t get along with him so it was fun to do. He is just too annoying for me. Last night Kevin and I stayed up outside the cabin together because he was crying he wanted to go home. He has a dog and an annoying brother too! We both like football but he is a Patriots fan. The counselor Jamie is really nice. He talked to us about being homesick. He even gets homesick as a grown up! Tomorrow we are starting our backpacking trip. I do not want to go hiking. Can you get me the new Call of Duty?

Day 5

Backpacking was hard! We went up a really tall mountain carrying backpacks that had to of weighed 50lbs! We have a role each day. Today I was the chef. My other Counselor Kayla taught me how to light the back country stoves. We use white gas for them. Dad we should get one for our camping trips! I made mac and cheese with canned chicken for dinner. We had to have a veggie so I cut up broccoli and put it in it. Everyone loved it! I want to make it when I get home for everyone.  Kevin keeps making fun of me. I told my counselors and they made him apologize but I don’t think he really wanted to. Everyone is so tired. I am kind of excited to sleep under a tarp though. Tomorrow we have to hike 6 miles!

Day 6

Last night I fell asleep under the stars. There were so many! I got some bug bites but it was worth it. My counselors gave me some cream to put on them so they don’t itch too bad. We hiked 7 miles instead of 6 today. We got a little turned around and hiked a half mile out of the way before we noticed and turned back. It was okay though because we got to see an awesome waterfall. I was having a really hard time getting up a hill and was slowing everyone down. I felt bad but I just couldn’t hike any more. Kevin stayed back with me and helped carry some of my gear so I could get up the hill. His pack must have weighed 100lbs! I guess he isn’t as bad as I thought. We played Frisbee together after we got to the campsite. Tomorrow we are done backpacking! Thank GOD!

Day 8

Dad,

I went white water rafting today. The water was really cold.  I was in a boat with Kevin, Zach, Tyler, and Kayla. Kayla was a good guide. She let us all try to guide and taught us how to steer. I got us stuck on a rock but it was fun trying to get off the rock. I fell in on Lesser Wesser, it was so much fun. As soon as I came up Kayla grabbed me and pulled me back in the raft.

Tonight we stayed at a campground called Appletree. I had to be Sherpa today so I had to wash all the pots and pans. They were so gross!

Day 10

I was YODA today. I got to sit in the front of the van and tell the group what to do because I am the leader. We went to paintball. Kevin, Zach, and I teamed up against some kids from another group. It was fun to shoot them with paintballs. They don’t hurt as bad as I thought they would. We wore funny clothes from Goodwill to play. I can’t wait to show you pictures. Tomorrow we are going out to eat for our last night together. Yay! Real food! I can’t wait until I can get McDonalds and a soda. When you guys come to pick me up you can meet Kevin and Zach. We want to plan a trip to our house so we can hang out together.