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.
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.”
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!
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!
Competitive Irish Step Dancer
We believe in the power of praise and acknowledging every child’s accomplishments, milestones, and success! This week we’re featuring Ryan, a SOAR alumni who will be attending SOAR for the third time this summer. Ryan is just your average 11 year old kid living life and going to school in Ohio, except that he’s also a Competitive Irish Step Dancer—and a pretty good one, too! At the end of 2015, Ryan made it to the preliminary championship level of compeition, which is the second highest level. He also qualified for the 2015 regional competition, and was only three places away from going to the national competition!
Ryan first started step dancing at 6 years old. His mom was a Competitive Irish Step Dancer as well, and as Ryan puts it, “I thought it looked cool and wanted to give it a try.” He practices almost everyday and goes to class usually twice a week, for around two hours. During competitions, Ryan has one thing that some other dancers don’t have, ADHD! He credits his ADHD for giving him “lots of energy” during competitions. When asked what advice he would give to other kids looking to take on a new challenge, Ryan said, “Don’t give up. The tough keep going even when the going gets touch. I’ve wanted to quit quite a few times, but I haven’t and for that reason I’m still getting trophies.”
Way to go Ryan! Everyone here at SOAR is very proud!
Other Success Highlights:
“Just before break, Catie took a math test on ratios. It consisted of 25 problems, all of which were word problems. This required her to read, comprehend the question, filter extraneous information, remember what she had read, remember the math and do it. She also had to have the stamina and resilience to get through all the problems.
SHE CRUSHED IT!! 90%!!
She could not have done this last year. So proud of her progress.”
“Ben was selected for All District Honor Band, with over 1000 students auditioning! He also just performed, and was named First Runner Up for the Carnegie Hall Honors Performance Workshop!”
Has your camper recently experienced a new accomplishment, milestone, or success? We want to hear about it! Share it with us here!