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New Addition Underway!

Balsam Lodge & Kitchen Rendering


In 2017, the Young family decided to donate money to SOAR to build a new kitchen/dining facility at SOAR’s Balsam Base in North Carolina. The newly updated facility was desperately needed because the existing micro-sized kitchen housed the industrial refrigerator, a small stove and oven, and an oversized sink, thus there was almost no room left over for food preparation and such.

I recently contacted the Youngs and asked them what prompted their generosity? Steve and Jena Young are the parents of Talbot Young, a SOAR camper from 2012-2017. Talbot is currently a student at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and while home on break, sat down with his parents for a Q & A regarding their generous gift to SOAR.

Talbot, how many years did you attend SOAR?

I attended SOAR for 2-3 sessions each summer over the course of about 5 years. Also, I went to the Keys Christmas scuba camp and a Caribbean Scuba session. 

What are your favorite memories of that time?

Some of my favorite things were rock climbing, hiking, and white water rafting. While rock climbing, we were forced to rely on the instructors who were belaying us, teaching us a valuable lesson on trust. While hiking, we learned to make fires, build shelter, manage gear, and navigate using maps. I have also gone out west to Wyoming, which was an amazing experience. I was able to participate in the SOAR leadership program, ILS, where repeat campers may be chosen to develop their leadership abilities. I was able to help set up the ropes for rock climbing and help organize the groups.

Day 1 of Construction


Steve and Jena, what did you observe by your son being at SOAR?

We saw our son become much more comfortable outdoors and self-reliant. He took his developing leadership skills to Boy Scouts. We noticed that he became much more of a leader at school. On his home sports teams, he was able to lead and direct his teammates during times when coaches were unavailable. He became more empathetic and grew up in our eyes.

What has motivated you as a family to stay involved at SOAR?

We have stayed active in SOAR because of the incredible opportunities SOAR had offered to our son. While SOAR tries to maintain a standard summer-camp feel, they are very modern in their understanding of what makes a student an individual. They emphasize that each student has strengths and how to nurture them.

What made you decide to donate to the capital campaign?

After speaking to the SOAR leadership and seeing SOAR’s vision of growth, we understood the potential that the capital campaign can offer future students of the camp and the year-round school as well. After discussing the priorities of the campaign our family decided to donate the kitchen and dining hall for the Balsam Campus in N.C.

Thank you, Steve, Jena, and Talbot for your generous gift! We and the many generations of SOAR campers to come, appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

Construction as of January 3, 2020


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