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Join us as we recap an interview with Jenna Williams, a dedicated field staff member at SOAR. During this interview we learn more about her firsthand experiences and insights gained from working within the SOAR community. In this exclusive interview, we’ll delve into Jenna’s narrative, getting a sense of her journey with SOAR and uncovering the essence of what makes SOAR such a transformative and empowering space. From the highs of exhilarating outdoor excursions to the challenges of fostering growth and inclusivity, Jenna’s firsthand accounts offer a window into the heart and soul of our program.

Background and Journey:

Reflecting on her pre-SOAR experiences, Jenna painted a picture of her journey, stating, “Before getting involved with SOAR, I had previous experiences working at a week-long camp that predominantly served children to teens with ASD.” She continued, “Ryan came to my class and he talked about SOAR and ADHD and I was immediately interested and was excited to see if I could potentially work there. We were able to talk back and forth and decide that it would be a good fit for both of us.” Delving into the transformative aspects of her SOAR experience, Jenna opened up about her journey of personal growth, stating, “I got to be an encourager and a motivator. I got to help out in any situation that my campers were having and see them grow and experience new things. I would say SOAR has helped me grow in a lot of different ways as a person. Kind of all on, on all realms, like physical, mental, emotional.” She also candidly discussed the challenges she faced, remarking, “Balancing my own emotions while serving as a supportive motivator for my campers was indeed a daunting task.”

What She Loves About SOAR:

Jenna also reminisced about her favorite camp memory, sharing, “Each session we would have a celebration dinner where we would all go out to a restaurant of the campers’ choosing. And so, we decided that we would, if the kids wanted to, go thrifting at Goodwill in Asheville and get each other these fun outfits that we would wear. And we all wore those silly outfits to Waffle House for our celebration dinner. And everyone seemed to have so much fun. Everyone was constantly smiling and laughing and talking about what outfits they wanted to keep.” Highlighting SOAR’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, Jenna shed light on the meticulous efforts made by the camp and the staff to accommodate those with learning disorders, stating, “A lot of times society does not accommodate those needs. So I was just really motivated to want to be that for the kids and get to know their needs and see if we could accommodate that because that was a space that they’re coming here for.”

Challenges and Advice for Campers:

When asked what the biggest challenge is that campers face, Jenna replied “ I think the biggest thing is maybe confidence, like lacking confidence. I think it’s easy to come to a camp sometimes and see all these different things, New activities that maybe they’ve never tried before and be like, wow, like, I don’t know if I can do that, I’m not strong enough. But I think it always just took a little bit of encouragement. And most of the time when they did try, they ended up going farther than they could have imagined or I could have imagined.”Empathizing with prospective parents and campers, Jenna offered advice, urging them to embark on a journey of exploration and research. “First and foremost, I think research is very important. Researching different courses that we offer at SOAR. What is Included in a session, like what activities we’ll be doing, looking at the schedule, and looking at reviews. Reviews of a parent or a child that is similar to your situation can help parents relate and be like, wow, if this kid in the same situation really enjoyed it, so might my kid. So I would maybe say that talking to people to see if it’s the right fit is important. Or maybe ask your child if they know what are the goals and things that you want to work on in the future.”

Jenna Williams’ insightful reflections provide a glimpse into the heart and soul of SOAR, where personal growth, inclusivity, and adventure merge to create a truly transformative experience. From Jenna’s journey of self-discovery to her dedication to fostering growth and empowerment in campers, her narrative helps demonstrate the impact of SOAR on both campers and staff alike. If you want to listen to the full interview with Jenna, you can find it on our Youtube page!