For the Press

The academy at soar is determined to find a better way

– ADHD is fuel for Adventure by Floorence Williams

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Childhood dreams come true: dreams of backpacking , mountain climbing whitewater rafting and perhaps most important the dream of fittin in

– How a Specialized ADHD/LD Camp Helped Alex by Fernando Ruiz

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“Through outdoor adventures, soar gives participants the opportunity to build friendships, develop life skills and experience success”

– Give Kids the Chance to SOAR

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“We’re very thankful, our students are starting the year on a high note, and we look forward to making another home for soar academy here at folkmoot.”

– SOAR School moving to Folkmoot’s Historic Hazelwood School

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“It is interesting to note that one of the nations largest and most well known summer camps serving that (adhd/ld) population is located right here in haywood county”

– SOAR is a hidden gem of Haywood County

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“But what I discovered when we attended soar’s parents weekend is that it’s not necessarily about the activity not meshing with my child’s differences – it’s instead about finding the right environment for our special children to participate in these types of activities successfully.”

-Journey to Success for Kids with AOHD Starts Here by Penny Williams

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To provide experiential education, interpersonal life skills development, and outdoor adventure-based programming to youth, young adults, and families dealing with ADHD and/or other Learning Disabilities through outdoor adventure programs and community-based services.



SOAR was founded in 1977 by Jonathan Jones, an adult with a learning disability, who believed that focusing on an individual’s strengths, rather than their deficits, was critical in ensuring success. Throughout the past 40 years, our programs have been adapted around the specific needs of the ADHD and LD community we serve. Our understanding of this population is in everything we do—in the way we approach challenges and adventures, in the way we structure each day, in the way we handle conflicts, and in the way we celebrate each participant’s abilities.

Our Programs

SOAR is an accredited summer camp, boarding school, and GAP year program serving youth & young adults with ADHD & learning disabilities in locations across the country. SOAR provides fun and successful experiences so that participants gain a greater awareness of their own strengths and build self-confidence. Campers, students, and gappers are learning social skills, executive functioning strategies, and practicing self-advocacy through outdoor adventure activities and travel in a small group setting. Through these incredible adventures, participants make new friendships, build self-confidence, and develop life skills. Join us on the journey to success!

Grades 8-12

Located in NC

Private Boarding School

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Ages 8-18

Locations: NC, FL, WY, CA, NY & International

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Ages 18-24

Located in WY

Gateway Adventure Program

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John Willson

Executive Director

John has spent over 25 years working with youth diagnosed with LD and ADHD and in 2012 became Executive Director of SOAR. He originally joined SOAR in the summer of 1991, returned as a semester course instructor in 1993, and became Director of LD and ADHD Services in 1994. He has lead hundreds of adventure courses across the country and Latin America and continues to enjoy field time with campers on a variety of programs. John is currently the President of the LDA of NC, and a national board member of CH.A.D.D. He actively presents to teachers, parents, and professionals at local, state, and national conferences. In addition, he has been an adjunct professor at Western Carolina University and Mars Hill College teaching Outdoor Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, and Leadership courses. His certifications include Wilderness First Responder, Lifeguard Instructor, CPR Instructor, PADI Rescue Diver, State licensed Recreation Therapist, and Nationally Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Finally, and most importantly, he and his wife Dorothie are the proud parents of two magnificent, creative, and strong-willed children.

Jonathan Jones


SOAR grew out of a graduate project Jonathan completed for Dr. Vincent Cyphers at the University of Northern Colorado, reflecting a personal love for the outdoors and a view of the wilderness as a place for personal growth and development. A current Board member of LDA, he is a past President of LDA NC and chaired the LDA Adult Issues Committee for many years. Jonathan has been involved in education for 33 years as a teacher, Upper School principal, and program administrator. His diverse background includes military service, convening of international conferences, and advocate work for abused and neglected children. He is an adult with learning disabilities and has an adult son with his own unique mix of LD and ADD characteristics. He is a frequent presenter at state, national, and international conferences which focus on LD and ADHD issues. His decades of experience working with youth allow him to convey a unique perspective regarding their strengths and abilities. Jonathan holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Psychology and a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate, with master’s level work in Education. He is also a licensed R.N.

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