The rich history of, SOAR, is reaching new heights this year with the beginning of our new GAP Year at SOAR program. Like many of our offerings, the idea for a GAP Year came from parents who often reported to us that their young adult had not decided what to do after high school. We knew of the idea of taking a year away from school and that the origin of taking a break, or Gap Year, came from the British in the 1970’s. SOAR, Summer Camp and Academy at SOAR, are special programs for campers and students who often mature a little later in life, and are sometimes referred to as “late-bloomers.” This new chapter for SOAR will provide an opportunity for young adults to step back and consider just what they want to do next while becoming more mature and, yes, “blooming.”
GAP Year at SOAR will take place in beautiful Dubois, Wyoming, at SOAR’s own Eagle View Ranch at the foot of the Wind River Mountain Range. The Lodge at Eagle View Ranch will be home-base for the gappers, a term the Brits coined for “a person on a gap year.” Part of the programming will take place at that site, but there will also be expeditionary trips throughout both terms.
The emphasis will not be on academics, but on developing adult life skills, with learning to budget, organize and plan, prioritize, and manage the requirements of daily living. Even the expeditions will include using these skills, as trips are planned, budgets determined, decisions about routes and places made, working through problems as they arise, and understanding that everyone pitches in to make it happen. There will be responsibilities as well as choices and decisions to make, individually and as a group, but always with the guidance of our experienced SOAR instructors. Becoming independent is often a goal of a gapper, and the skills and habits to do so will be honed during their time in the GAP Year.
Each gapper will have a choice of an internship to do while in the program with a wide variety from which to choose: culinary, child enrichment, geriatric support, animal care, building, landscaping, and more. There will also be chances to volunteer if there’s a special area of interest for an individual. Figuring out what type of work suits each person for the future, and what skills, training, or education will be needed, is also a goal for most gappers.
The gappers will attend a class at the local community college both terms taking courses applicable to one who is moving toward independence. These courses will allow them to see what community colleges can provide in preparing for the future and the courses will yield college credits. Additionally, the expeditionary trips will include a visit to a college or university Admissions Office to see what those meetings involve. Deciding which postsecondary option, whether college or university, community college, trade or vocational interest suits one best takes self-examining and a gap year allows time and structure for that focus.
As we begin this new chapter of the history of SOAR, we have the same high ideals as those in the first chapter when SOAR began as a summer outdoor-adventure camp program in 1977. We will continue to honor our strong philosophy of being a strength-based program as we serve our special participants across their developmental years and steps toward success. The GAP Year at SOAR will encourage and better prepare young adults for taking the “next step” to their future aspirations.