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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 

Amazing Kids! of the Month for August, 2002: 
Amazing Young Adventurers, SOAR Program, U.S.A.!

Quotes of the Month:

"We all lived in one tent. No phone, no TV. No Internet. No heat and twenty below zero sometimes. My job was to keep the fire going and I'd get up every two or three hours. You get used to it." 

Andrew Alexandre, age 13
SOAR student

"No one can predict to what heights you can soar; Even you will not know until you spread your wings and fly."

SOAR website

Do you know someone with a learning disability such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?  If you do, be sure to tell them about this month's Amazing Kids! of the Month, the amazing young adventurers who are students in the SOAR program!  SOAR students get to test their amazing skills in rock climbing, whitewater rafting, wilderness backpacking, sea kayaking and more!

Read about one amazing SOAR student's experiences below and see why having a learning disability doesn't mean you can't accomplish amazing things!  Don't forget to check out the "Related Links" section to find out how you can sign up for SOAR too! 

Table of Contents 

The Amazing SOAR Program
Amazing Young Adventurers
Related Links

The Amazing SOAR program

Some Amazing Young Adventurers in the SOAR Program

SOAR ( is a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to a two-fold purpose:

1. For Learning Disabled (LD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (AD/HD) Services (nationally), to provide adventure based programs and experiential education services to individuals and families dealing with Learning Disabilities and/or Attention Deficit Disorders. 

2. For Community Based Services (in North Carolina), to provide adventure based programs and experiential education services to school-aged youth, with particular emphasis on students identified as "high risk" for school failure, delinquency and/or substance abuse. 

SOAR's program is nationally recognized and has successfully challenged young people since 1975. Operating out of Balsam, North Carolina, and Dubois, Wyoming, the SOAR staff lead expeditions throughout the Southeast, Florida Keys, Caribbean, Rockies and Desert Southwest. According to the SOAR website, "The out-of-doors provide an ideal classroom where relevant learning can occur and life skills can be taught."

SOAR's amazing adventure activities include: wilderness backpacking, horsepacking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, wildlife studies, mountaineering, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking and wilderness medicine. They offer two-four week long summer expeditions and shorter adventures of three to seven days in the spring, fall and winter. Also available in the spring and fall are semester-length courses.


Amazingly, SOAR's student to staff ratio is a low 3:1!  As one mother of a SOAR student put it, 
"the program is pretty affordable for most families."

SOAR also offers a series of workshops to educate and stimulate students, parents and
professionals about the healthy emotional and cognitive development of youth with Learning
Disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorders. 

According to the SOAR website, the workshops are sponsored by parent support groups, professional organizations or local schools "seeking to provide an opportunity for youth to learn more about their uniqueness, while adults (parents and professionals) focus on strategies which empower LD and AD/HD youth across a continuum of academic and social environments."

A SOAR student getting help with his school work 

SOAR grew out of a graduate project by Jonathan Jones, which he completed for Dr. Vincent Cyphers at the University of Northern Colorado. According to Jonathan, "It reflects a personal love for the out-of-doors and a view of the wilderness as a place for personal growth and development." 

SOAR's Founder and Executive Director Jonathan Jones 

Jonathan has led hundreds of expeditions over the past twenty years: snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the Florida Keys, mountaineering in the Colorado Rockies, as well as, international trips to Jamaica, Belize and Costa Rica!  Last summer, his dream of building a Western Base Camp to better serve West Coast families came true with SOAR's opening of their Eagle View Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming!  Jonathan continues to plan and develop new programs for the youth and families SOAR serves.

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Amazing Young Adventurers

Below is the story of one amazing young adventurer in the SOAR program, Andrew Alexandre.  Here is what his mom has to say about her son's experience in SOAR: 

"My son Andrew Alexandre will soon be heading back to a brand new program in Dubois, Wyoming for kids with different learning styles. The kids learn by doing.  These kids often get bullied in a classroom setting---even though they are all bright. The kids live in below zero temperatures, in a tent. They climb rocks that are sometimes 45 stories high and yet they are young--my son is l3. They prepare all their own meals and go to school like Abe Lincoln did four hours a day. They all support each other and help each other too. 

SOAR students head out on a hike

"They do it for a whole year and next year they hike the Appalachian Trail. The program is called Soar--and it is 25 years old and my son excells at it. He loves helping the other kids. These are all GOOD kids.

"Andrew is now a different and better person because of his year with Soar. Andrew has been going to the Soar camp in North Carolina since he was 9. He would usually go for the llama trek---llamas are great because they teach the children so much about themselves. The llamas must be put in special order on the trail because they are so moody. Some spit and that kind of thing so the kids learn that llamas are just like kids. Moody and sometimes tough to handle. 

Students in SOAR's Llama Program

"Soar just began offering semester programs to l3 year olds last year and Andrew was the youngest child they have had. The program is not punitive at all but positive and reward oriented. The boys and girls do all the itinerary planning, cooking and shopping and accounting and are forced to work out all interpersonal issues themselves. There, is supervision, however, just about all the time. 

"It is definitely not for everyone because it is a challenging adventure. The kids may call home once a week but what amazed me the most was how the four girls who participated (ages l6, l5 and l4) loved the trip!

"The group had all had some problems with their parents--but no drug abuse or any of that.  Just trouble adjusting to school life and trouble accepting parental authority. "

Amazing Andrew Alexandre and His Amazing SOAR Classmates

Amazing SOAR adventurer Andrew Alexandre talks about his experience in SOAR: 

"We started out at base camp in Dubois, Wyoming. It is called the Eagle View Ranch and is run by Jessica and Jon Bressler. Jessica is really nice and she is a certified teacher. Jon is her husband and runs the ranch and he can be tough but terrific too. I followed the Calvert School program and was glad during class because it was always warm in the school tent. There were seven kids in my group and I was the youngest. In the beginning I had problems with two of the girls but at the end of the year they were all best friends and will be forever. I cried when I left. 

    "We all lived in one tent. No phone, no TV. No Internet. No heat and twenty below zero sometimes. My job was to keep the fire going and I'd get up every two or three hours. You get used to it. We planned our trips away from Base ourselves. 

    "I loved climbing the base of El Capitain at Yosemite. We went sea kayaking and slept in some 25 National parks in California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico and Arizona. Oh and Texas. We saw Hoover Dam. The Grand Canyon is weird. Too many tourists. It's like Disney World. A Coke can fell on me when I was climbing. 

"Moab, Utah's park is awesome. The best. Looks like the Moon. I was most proud of making a B average and of being chosen to be a counselor for the llama trek for 8 and 9 year olds this
summer. Because I excelled at Soar I got into The Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Connecticut. It's hard to get into and they don't take problem kids. And I only go to programs that like eagles. That's a joke ;)." 

Andrew Alexandre, age 13 

For more information about SOAR, visit the SOAR website at:

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The SOAR website:

The SOAR website's links page for information on Learning Disabilities and resources for getting camp scholarships:

Online Application for the SOAR program:

SOAR program dates for 2002:

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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered.  (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!) 

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it!  Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!  We are always looking for new stories.  And don't be shy!  We'd love to hear from you!

Here's an idea you might want to try:


If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?  Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talents! 

Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors . If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at: .


  It's cool to be an Amazing Kid!


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