My first summer at SOAR as Admissions Director is an exciting time and brings vibrant life to this mountainside location and all of us there. Every day when I arrive at SOAR, I hear laughter and happy chattering, sometimes singing, and always good smells of camp breakfast wafting through the air. When I approach our base building and dining shelter, a few campers approach me with reports of activities, scratches, bits about “what happened” the day before and tales of Indy (short for Independence, our cat who arrived 2 years ago on July 4). The pleasant arrival makes my day.
For those of us who call our time in offices on site “work,” the campers are part of our daily lives. Our “work” is a different kind of work, as it involves planning and implementing an often life-changing program for campers who deal with AD/HD and/or LD. It is fulfilling and intrinsically rewarding. While it can be consuming, the energy we glean from them help us to remain passionate and dedicated to providing positive experiences for their short stay as our guests. Being part of a team that shows such involvement and commitment to a worthwhile mission makes my day.
One group of our enrollees included a couple of brothers who were suffering from early homesickness as it was their first time away. They were city people, so our site seemed rugged and strange to them. The pain they felt was significant and we all strategized about ways to help them adjust. Transitioning was fairly slow but once it began to build, we saw them less around the office, and certainly fewer pleas for escape. Within a few days it seemed they had forgotten to let us know how miserable they were, and when sighted around camp, they were laughing and engaged in conversation with their camp buddies. One of the boys toward the end of his stay told me, “I only have 5 more days and then I have to leave.” I just had to ask, “What do you think about being at SOAR now?” and he thought a second, smiled broadly, and responded with a heartfelt and loud shout, “WOW!” He was off and out of my office like a bird. That camper and his message made my day.
I get most of my “make my days” moments from campers and staff friends, but I also hear voices of appreciation and encouragement from parents and grandparents. I had a call this week from a parent who told me “My son is acting so much more mature after his being there 18 days, and we are hoping he can keep his new level of respect and responsibility going!” She was asking to go over some of the strategies we had shared with her at his debrief session.
Most recently I had a conversation with a grandfather who was gifting his grandson’s stay at SOAR. We discussed the logistics of payment, but toward the end of the conversation, he asked “Please tell me how my boy is doing there.” Earlier, this grandfather had shared with me that he had just celebrated his 98th birthday and was doing really well except for being blind. Knowing of this generous man’s effort to assure his grandson’s SOAR wonderful experience, and hearing his earnest interest in how his grandson was doing made my day.
Without a doubt there will be many more “Making My Day Moments” for all the staff to embrace as we go about our important “work” days at SOAR.