Monday, July 29, 2013

My child is SOARing

It has been 19 days since I last saw my son. We have never been separated this long, and even when we have, it's usually because I have been away on business. This time he has been away.

After a lot of thought and consideration, we decided to send him to SOAR camp. SOAR is: Success Oriented Achievement Realized. For a lot of reasons, Dylan has been on a downward spiral and I felt as though we needed to do something dramatic to break it. I want him to be able to believe in himself and be able to persevere through things that are challenging.

There's no real clearinghouse for finding what we were looking for. No algorithm to plug in the variables and get an output that would give us the ideal choices customized for our situation. Basically, we had to go on gut instinct.

SOAR is in North Carolina, so it was not an easy decision to make. There is a local school that has a camp for kids with learning disabilities. But it was just a week and only half days. I just didn't see what five days at three hours a day was going to do (plus there was the issue of who would pick him up at noon every day?).

This is not an actual SOAR pic, but camp there does include
rock climbing, backpacking, white water rafting, and more

SOAR has been in the business nearly 40 years. The executive director, himself, has struggled with ADHD and learning disabilities, as have his kids. On top of that, Penny Williams, the original founder of A Mom's View of ADHD, attended the family weekend program and was blown away. All of that was very promising.

Generally, when I told people that Dylan was going to camp for 26 days their mouths dropped open. Some said they could never send their kids away for that long. Others recovered and agreed that it sounded like a good idea. The best response, however, came from the owner of the occupational therapy center where Dylan has gone for OT. She pointed out that it takes 21 days to form a habit. He just gets five extra to confirm it!

I heard nothing at first. Kids aren't really allowed to call and parents can't just pick up the phone and call to talk to their kids, either. You can send letters and emails; just no calls. And I get it. In fact, mid-way through the program, when kids are scheduled to call home, a coworker asked why they had to mess up a good thing?  In other words, if everything was going along fine and Dylan had gotten over any homesickness, why mess with that?

I understood her comment only too well, but I was also looking forward to talking to him. And he sounded great! Like he's having a blast! The counselor said that he did have some homesickness at first but they let him work through it. Perfect!

Dylan's program is Academic Discovery, which combines classroom learning with adventure activities. He didn't have too much to say about the academics, which concerns me, but I'm hoping that the influence is deeper than even he realizes. We'll see when fifth grade starts all over again in a few weeks.

For now, I just cannot wait to see him and hug him!  I'm glad that he had this opportunity thanks to some funds from his grandmother and that we had the opportunity to give it to him.

(c) The Argonne Chronicles, 2013


  1. I'm glad that you got to speak to him and he sounds happy. That must have been such a relief for you.

    I really hope that you write a blog post or two about his experience when he returns. It sounds like a wonderful program.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful program. I'm so happy that Dylan seems happy there!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful program and I'm so glad that you were able to make it work with funds from grandma! Phooey on those who say that they'd never be able to be separated from their kids for that long because that's a parent feeding their own needs and not seeing the needs of their child clearly. I get that it's a tough decision and tough to be separated. I hope that this time heals whatever was causing his downward spiral and gave you the time to catch you breath. Should be just about time for him to come home soon, right?

  4. We just got home! I'll do a write up as soon as I recover from the 10.5 hour drive!