Some big things happened at SOAR in 2016! We celebrated our 40th summer season, saw our highest enrollment (ever!), developed new scholarship opportunities, and began planning projects we’re excited to share with you in 2017! It is clear that the life changing experiences offered at SOAR are having a huge impact on the lives of youth and their families. We are so grateful to all of our campers, students, and gappers that motivate us each day. We are also grateful for their families who let us share their amazing children. And of course, we can’t forget the generous people who support SOAR on an ongoing basis. Your support keeps our mission alive!
Here are just a few highlights from this year. We can’t wait to see what adventures 2017 has in store!
We Celebrated 40 Summers
Back in the summer of 1977, Jonathan and Wandajean Jones embarked on their first adventure with SOAR in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. With just a few kids on the course, it was the start of something much bigger. 40 years later, we celebrated with former campers, students, staff, and friends who have all been a part of SOAR’s growth over the years. In 2016, we also served more kids at camp than ever before! This was the best celebration of all. Here’s to 40 more!
Launched 2 New Summer Courses
We are always looking for new adventures that we know our campers will enjoy. This year we launched two new courses–Caribbean Sailing/SCUBA Adventure & California Surfing Adventure! Both were a huge success and allowed campers to experience things they have never before. Both courses will carry over into the 2017 season and are great options for SOAR alumni looking to try something new and exciting!
Expanded our Gap Year Program at Eagle View Ranch
In it’s 3rd year, the Gap Year at SOAR continues to grow. This year, with the help of generous donors, SOAR was able to secure the property adjacent to Eagle View Ranch in Wyoming. This purchase provides us with additional living space, allowing us to expand our Gap Year program in the future to accommodate more participants.
Developed the Military Scholarship Fund
SOAR has a rich military history and has always looked for ways to support military families. This year we made it official and launched the Military Scholarship Fund. This fund provides scholarship assistance to campers and students with immediate family who have served or are serving in the military. Our goal is to substantially grow this fund in 2017!
Installed Fiber Optic Internet
If you have ever been to SOAR’s Balsam Base, it is tucked away on a mountainside. While the views are beautiful, the internet connection was not. With the help of generous donors, SOAR was able to upgrade to Fiber Optic Internet this past year. This not only makes the work of our administrative staff much easier (and faster), it drastically improves the learning environment for our students! Students are now able to work on assignments with less interruptions resulting in more progress throughout the school day!
Thank you for being a part of the work we’re doing here at SOAR. See you in 2017!
We are so pleased to congratulate one of our SOAR Board Members, Dr. Joan Teach on her recent award as 2015 CHADD Educator of the Year at the annual CHADD conference in New Orleans on November 14, 2015. Joan Teach has been a long-time supporter of SOAR’s programs. She has facilitated many trips to the Balsam Base for the Middle School Students from Lullwater School and has been able to experience the positive attitude shown toward the campers, the understanding of their needs both strong and fragile, and the quality staff that brings out the best in all of them.
Dr. Teach has been a special educator working with the LD/ADHD population since 1960 and served as the Principal/Director of the Lullwater School until her retirement in 2005. After retiring Joan has been active as the President of LDA Georgia, President of the Board for Kids Enabled, Director of the Community Resource Center in Atlanta and started a collaborative group, GOLD, Georgia Opportunities for Learning Differences. She designs and presents workshops for parents, adults with LD/ADHD and females with ADHD in Atlanta as well as speaks at conferences such as LDA and CHADD. She serves on the Board of SOAR, an environmental outdoor program combining positive approach to esteem building and character development. Joan also has a passion for the LDA Healthy Children’s Project volunteering her efforts to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future populations. She also travels around the world educating individuals in other countries about the struggles of females and others with LD/ADHD through game simulation. Congratulations Joan Teach!
After receiving this award, Dr. Teach shared these encouraging words.
Thank you. I’m one of those 15 million with ADHD – And you expect me to say thank you and sit down? I bring instead a challenge for CHADD. On January 28, 1986 Christa Maculliffe took off in the Challenger as the first teacher in space. We know the story, but Christa left us with a legacy: To Teach is to Touch a Life Forever
This has become my mantra, and that of many educators that I have known. But our society has changed. Today’s opinion of teachers is negative, demoralizing and demeaning. It is time we raise the self-esteem of those who teach our children and point instead to what a teacher can really do. I want these young educators to go to cocktail parties where everyone is sharing their so important positions, I’m a lawyer, accountant, anesthesiologist, etc. They need to respond I AM AN EDUCATOR, stated with confidence and with their head held high.
Therefore, my Challenge – I believe CHADD can begin a groundswell that reaches across the nation and informs society of all the things teachers are doing right. We need to combat the bad press. Atlanta Public Schools certainly have had their fair share.
If we could just start a movement to:
TELL A TEACHER THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL, IMPRESSIVE, INNOVATIVE, INVOLVING the success of our children.
Think of the impact it would have. Like when a SMILE given genuinely to another, makes that person smile back and then they pass it onto the next person they meet, and on it goes. This phenomena is so impressive. So could AFFIRMING A TEACHER’S GOOD WORK.
If we spread good feeling, raise self esteem, we then encourage that teacher to try harder to make an even bigger impact. It’s a human nature at its best. Teachers never went into the profession for the BIG BUCKS, but the BIG REWARDS they feel WHEN A CHILD SUCCEEDS.
Let’s make a difference that can spread from town to town with a life of its own. Think of the impact positive affirmation would have on our society’s opinion of teachers.
Help us all learn that:
- When a child acts out, we must find patience
- When a child is withdrawn and retreats, question his security
- When a child retreats into his own world, give him a road on which to return
- When academics become a quandary, provide the route around that brick wall
- When a child accomplishes the first, a new way, succeeds in any form, thank a teacher
- And when the day is done, and your precious someone is sound asleep, cherish the time you have put into helping him to grow and to learn, for your name is PARENT and your child is blessed to have you in his life.
I thank all of you for what you have accomplished. Please take this challenge and see what we can do to provide our world with a brighter future.
What an awesome day! A dark, chilly October morning was brightened by energy and enthusiasm from SOAR staff, students, volunteers, and of course RUNNERS! The Eagle Run 5k is not new to SOAR, but it has been newly revived to help celebrate ADHD Awareness Month with our local community. Upon its return last year, a lot of hard worked rendered little results and left a lot of us here at SOAR feeling disappointed. But as you know, SOAR doesn’t believe in failures, but sees these situations as lessons learned and used this disappointment as motivation for our 2015 run.
It was a SUCCESS! We are so grateful to all of our sponsors, the outdoor community, every single volunteer, and to everyone who laced up their running shoes to support ADHD. Thanks to you all, we were able to raise $1,800 for the SOAR Scholarship Fund that will be designated to provide unforgettable adventures to youth with ADHD in our community.
We were lucky to have all of our Academy at SOAR students in attendance as well as a very special SOAR alumni and his father, Chris and Terry.
Chris has attended SOAR the past three summers, participating in our NC Academic Discovery course this past summer. After seeing so much growth this year, Chris’s parents encouraged him to join the cross country team at his high school, something that he has stuck with the entire season! Go Chris! When they heard about the Eagle Run 5k, they knew Chris would want to get involved, despite living three hours away. While it was great to reunite and hear about all of the successes Chris has had since his time at SOAR, it was also an incredible race-day reminder of what this event was all about! Chris and all of our students were an inspiration to everyone involved to continue our efforts in eliminating the stigma surrounding ADHD through awareness in our schools, communities, workplaces, nationally, and globally!
We are already thinking ahead and looking forward to next year’s race. We hope to see even more SOAR Alumni as well as increased support within our community!
Thanks again to all of our sponsors.
United Community Bank
Asheville Adventure Rentals
Irene Wortham Center
Navitat Canopy Adventures
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Mast General Store