Reflections on Leadership
Leadership is something that’s very important to SOAR. It’s something that we try to exemplify and foster in not only our staff, but our kids too. When you drive into Balsam Base, as a reminder to drivers, we have a sign that says “Caution, future leaders at work and play.” That always spoke to me as I came into work each day. The second part of our name, the “AR” is “Achievement Realized.” Leadership is at the core of our philosophy.
What does that mean to us? What does that translate to? All around us we have strong leaders, from politicians to celebrities, from parents to teachers. If we’re really open-minded, we can see our kids as leaders too. Our kids teach us things and look at things in ways that we may not have thought of, or haven’t looked at in such a way for a long time. Reminding us that there’s alternative view points to the day-in, day-out.
At SOAR, we work to give kids a voice in their leadership potential. We allow avenues for children to grow and help lead other children, camp courses, classes and activities. We believe that children with AD/HD and Learning “Disabilities” aren’t suffering from a “Disability.” We believe that those very same children actually have something on us “normal” people, that we don’t have.
As SOAR Director John Willson, and AD/HD Expert Dr. Ned Hallowell put it, kids with AD/HD and LD have a “Ferrari engine” for a brain. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? The “disability” is in how we approach these kids. If we simply teach our kids how to use the Ferrari engine inside their heads, and let them go with it, they are capable of great things. Of becoming future leaders.
So how do we teach them to drive? Especially when some of us don’t have Ferrari engines in our heads. The answer is that we lead the way. By setting an example ourselves, and leading our children to opportunities and resources that can help them learn and grow, we help our children become leaders too.
Through our programs, we offer kids an opportunity to become leaders in their class. At camp we use “role cards” each day, one of which is Yoda, whose responsibility for that day is to lead the team. During the Academy, we teach kids to advocate for their needs and build self-confidence which translates to leadership skills. And in our Gap Year program, we promote maturity, decision making skills and confidence, which are all essential aspects to becoming a good leader.
And it works! We have previous students coming back as staff each year! We have students writing to us about the great things they’re doing in college and beyond! The parents are amazed at the progress in their kids, and by doing all this, we make that sign true. “Caution, future leaders at work and play.”