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How Adventure Camps Invest an LD Child or Teen with Self Confidence and Skills
courtesy of Camp SOAR, Balsam, North Carolina
Some of the traits that make traditional school programs so difficult for kids with learning disabilities are ones that make them shine at more non-traditional activities. Exuberance, spontaneity, a willingness to take a chance – these are things that stand a child so well in an adventure-based program, and the experiences and successes kids have as a result of such programs can give them the self-esteem and can-do attitude that traditional school programs cannot offer. In fact, excelling in other endeavors can carry over to give them the confidence do much better in traditional school settings. Is this what your LD child needs to build up her self-image? It may be just the thing.
SOAR is an adventure based program, for youth 8-18 diagnosed with LD, ADD and or ADHD, that places emphasis on developing self-confidence, social skills, and problem-solving techniques through successful goal orientation. The outdoors provides an ideal classroom where relevant learning can occur and life skills can be taught. Program activities include a broad base of wilderness adventure experiences which empower the student to make healthy choices, learn more about themselves, overcome challenges, and relate lessons learned from these experiences to other aspects of their lives. Adventure activities include: wilderness backpacking, horsepacking, llama trekking, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, wildlife studies, fishing, mountaineering, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, surfing, and sea kayaking. Our students are typically average or above average intelligence and physical aptitude. Youth who are diagnosed with emotional or behavioral handicaps or are demonstrating significant behavioral problems are discouraged from applying.
SOAR believes all individuals identified with learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit disorder (AD/HD) possess inherent talents and gifts. These abilities can mean incredible success in adulthood, once these students negotiate the challenging obstacles of childhood, adolescence, and a traditional education system which is usually unable to respond to individual learning styles. Therefore, the SOAR model is based on two fundamental principles. First, youth with LD and AD/HD flourish when they are encouraged to focus on their strengths in an experiential setting. The second principle acknowledges that success can be generalized by encouraging our students to develop and utilize strategies which enable them to compensate for those challenging characteristics of LD and AD/HD. To this end, SOAR staff strive to ensure success for each student across a wide range of experiences. Such success, in turn, builds essential self-esteem and self-confidence.
Experiential learning activities allow each student many opportunities to discover and develop his or her own learning abilities. 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”. SOAR uses specific strategies for increasing self-confidence, social skills and problem-solving techniques. Prior to the course, we will work with the parents to identify three specific goals for the student to work on while participating in a SOAR course. Throughout the course, SOAR staff will work with the student to develop strategies for success in these key areas. Common goals include organization, creating positive peer relationships, increasing self-esteem, etc. Each activity that we do allows the students a hands-on way of applying the specific strategies to increase their success. For example, when rock climbing, we focus on identifying the goal, taking a small step approach to “the problem”, and assessing the success. This same approach not only applies to rock climbing, but can also be applied to homework, taking tests, and a variety of other life situations. We facilitate personal accountability by using natural and logical consequences, and involving the students in creating the group guidelines and resulting consequences if a guideline is broken.
Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.