CHARLOTTE – Camp SOAR, which stands for Special Olympics Athletics Retreat, returned to our area from June 7-11 at the Levine Jewish Community Center Center located on Providence Road. It was their 20th year serving the community. It’s a very popular Special Olympics summer camp program not only in North Carolina, but in California, Florida, Wyoming, and internationally.
The campers who were participating in the program ranged in age from 12-17. Many of the volunteers have been with the camp for more than a decade. The volunteers return because their experiences with the children have been extremely positive and personally rewarding. They are passionate about these kids and the value of the program. They enjoy working with special needs kids with intellectual and physical disabilities. All volunteers are experienced, and many have made it a career to focus on the development of these kids. It makes a difference with the children and the volunteers, who obviously have the kid’s best interests in mind.
In Charlotte, the campers attended for one day, and they participated in a variety of fun-filled sports activities including basketball, soccer, swimming, tennis, as well as various arts and crafts for all to enjoy. It’s fantastic to just see the joy on these kids’ faces as they make a basket for the first time or score a goal playing soccer.
The camp also has a program held annually in Balsam, North Carolina, where kids from 8-17 can participate in many other indoor and outdoor activities that enhance the children’s total experience and quality of their lives. Everything they do at SOAR is focused on helping campers experience success as they learn to develop tools and strategies to build up their confidence, individual growth, and development.
The camping activities include rock climbing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, and many more that build confidence while gaining appreciation and enjoyment of accomplishment.
The Balsam Base, located in Balsam, North Carolina, is about 45 minutes west of Asheville, situated on 10 acres of beautifully wooded and mountainous terrain perfect for many of the activities mentioned for the kids to enjoy and conquer.
For more information, please visit the SOAR website or call (828) 456-3435 for details about their summer programs being offered.