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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We have exciting news, SOAR is expanding! This Spring we are launching our GAP East Program located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Here are 5 common questions about our new program:

What is the GAP Year at SOAR?

The GAP Year at SOAR program is designed for young adults between the ages of 18-25 years old who have graduated from highschool or have earned their GED. The program allows students a supportive environment to explore their interests, develop social skills, and practice independent living in a small group setting. A unique aspect of our program compared to other GAP organizations is the opportunity for participants to plan and implement outdoor adventure expeditions throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. 

Blue Ridge Parkway

Where is GAP East located?

Our GAP East program is located 35 miles west of Asheville, in the sweeping Maggie Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains. This program was created with our SOAR families in mind who desired a GAP location in the Southeast.

How does GAP East differ from GAP West?

A major component of this program is an emphasis on advanced outdoor skills and certifications. Students will have access to pursue education in raft guiding, belay certifications, and wilderness medicine courses. Expedition sites for GAP East will also vary from GAP West. Expeditions areas may include Pisgah National Forest, Edisto River in South Carolina, Shenandoah National Park, Florida Keys, Buffalo River in Arkansas, the Virginia Creeper Trail, Cumberland Island National Park, and the Linville Gorge in North Carolina! In the second semester of the GAP Year, participants will have the opportunity to plan and organize their expeditions.

Appalachian Mountains

Who is this program for?

GAP East is for participants who are neurodivergent, and interested in living in a small community with folks with similar diagnoses to them. Our program will appropriately challenge individuals and help grow their leadership abilities, and cultivate independent adult living. Students will have access to introductory college courses, volunteer experience, and possible job positions.

Who is the team behind GAP East?

 Our GAP East Director is Amelia Weber! Amelia has worked extensively with SOAR in a multitude of roles.  She has served our organization as a field staff of our NC Expedition course, Course Director of our NC Academic Discovery and Canoeing courses, and has worked as campus and field staff for our Academy at SOAR.

Amelia has a deep love of the natural world and in addition to her personal and professional outdoor pursuits, she enjoys expressing her appreciation of nature through pottery and drawing. She encourages all of her students to lean into their natural curiosities to foster a more personal and meaningful learning experience. We are thrilled to have her on our team. Check out our blog post later this month to learn more about Amelia!

Ready to learn more about our GAP Year at SOAR East? Give us a call today at 828-456-3435 or email admissions@

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