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New Perspectives - Dec, 1998 Issue #55

Success Oriented Achievement Realized
Balsam, North Carolina
Karen A. Morgan, Admissions
828-456-3435 karen@soarnc.org  

SOAR “features success-oriented, high adventure programs for LD and ADD preteens, teens and adults. Emphasis is placed on developing self-confidence, social skills, problem-solving techniques, a willingness to attempt new challenges and the motivation which comes through successful goal orientation.”

SOAR is nationally known and has been operating since 1975. “Operating out of Balsam, North Carolina, the SOAR staff lead expeditions throughout the Southeast, Florida Keys, Caribbean, Colorado Rockies and Desert Southwest. The out-of-doors provide an ideal classroom where relevant learning can occur and life skills can be taught. Adventure activities include wilderness backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and canoeing, wildlife studies, mountaineering, snorkeling, sailing, cross- country skiing and wilderness medicine. Expeditions are approximately two weeks in length and are scheduled during the summer months. Shorter adventures of three to seven days are planned for the spring, fall and winter. Semester-length courses are available in the spring and fall.”

“Participants include young men and women, between the ages of eight and eighteen, who are of average or above average intelligence and physical aptitude. Such an individual may be characterized as an underachiever in the traditional academic system and may have been identified as having a specific learning deficit or diagnoses with ADD. The only ability required of participants is that they be able to enjoy the beautiful out-of- doors and be willing to challenge themselves. Youth who are diagnosed with emotional or behavioral handicaps or are demonstrating significant behavioral problems are discouraged from applying.”

“Experiential learning activities allow each student many opportunities to discover and develop his or her own learning abilities. The result is an individual who is cognizant of personal strengths and more willing to confront areas of weakness. Each student comes to view life as a series of challenges and opportunities, rather than a series of problems; just as the students come to view themselves as problem-solvers, rather than only part of the ‘problem.’” “Counselors are selected for those qualities of maturity, sensitivity and caring which enable them to relate well to young people and enhance the adventure program. All are highly trained professionals in such fields as special and secondary education, recreation therapy, counseling, outdoor and experiential education. All SOAR counselors have first aid and CPR certifications. Most staff members also have advanced medical credentials, such as Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT certifications.”

SOAR also has what they call “Family Weekend,” which is designed to help parents and children have a chance to “learn more about themselves and each other.” The activity is Whitewater Rafting, with one weekend in the spring and one weekend in the fall. 

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