A Fantastic Start to the 2021-2022 Academy & GAP Year at SOAR!

by Andrea Wackerle

What a fantastic start we have had to the Academy and GAP Year Programs at SOAR! We are thrilled to be programming in person and so excited for all of the adventures and memories to come! Both the Academy and GAP Year started the semester in early September and have completed their first rotation. Both programs have two phases, a campus or base phase and an expedition phase where participants get to travel out in the real world for two weeks!

In Waynesville, NC, the Academy at SOAR kicked off by welcoming students and their families with an in-person orientation and dinner. The Academy was able to get a few facelifts before the start of the school year bringing color and more fun into the halls! So far our teachers, Gene (humanities), Shelia (English/language arts), Blair (science), and Em (math), have had a great time with the students in class as well as on field trips. They have been to Western Carolina University, where they attended a Forensic Science lecture with Dr. Becca George, visited the rooftop of the new Apodaca science building with astrophysicist Dr. Gomez, met with author and bird behavior biologist Dr. Jeremy Hyman, and visited the Fine Arts Museum (that was the absolute favorite!). The students were also able to attend a live local theatre production of The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Hart Theatre in Waynesville.

As for their first expedition of the year, the four houses completed their Triple Threat challenge! Staying close to home, they visited the beautiful backcountry of South Carolina where they went on a backpacking expedition, whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River, and canoeing across Fontana Lake. North house field instructors, Curtis and Tessa, shared, “After an immensely fortuitous and eventful two weeks, we find ourselves back at Folkmoot and getting into the swing of things on campus. Looking forward to our next expedition, where we will be heading towards the Tennessee and Georgia line to backpack the Cohutta Wilderness and do some climbing in Chattanooga, Tennessee!”

Meanwhile, in Dubois, WY, the GAP Year at SOAR welcomed gappers and their families to Eagle View Ranch for an in-person orientation and introduction! During their first base phase, gappers prepared for their expedition and got to experience their first (tiny) dusting of snow. The team woke up to a remarkable view of snow-capped mountains in the distance. They have been busy camping in Sinks Canyon, rock-climbing, playing on the Alpine Tower, starting Life Skills Lessons, and planning for future phases of GAP.

As for the gapper’s first expedition, the group successfully explored Yellowstone, backpacked in the Wind River Range at Green River Lakes, and rock climbed in City of Rocks in Idaho! The group will soon be starting their first college course at Central Wyoming College and will get a tour, be introduced to the class instructors of their Intro to College course. The team will be completing Life Skills Lessons, volunteering, expedition planning, and adventuring this weekend in Jackson, WY.

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It is going to be an amazing year! Stay tuned for more updates! Stay connected with SOAR on social media so that you never miss out on the Academy and GAP Year updates!