Okay, we won’t keep you in suspense: S.O.A.R. stands for “Strength, Ownership, Achievement, Respect”. But more on that in a moment.
Allow us to begin with another question: What does a residential camp experience offer older campers? And what specifically does Alford Lake Camp offer to 7th, 8th and 9th graders? Parents and grandparents, we think you will agree: this is an interesting age for young women. Teenagers who are more independent, more friend dependent, excited and curious about the world and wondering about their futures. This age is full of spirit, confidence and curiosity!! And with these general characteristics comes unique challenges and questions for their families. How can we allow these 13, 14 and 15 year olds to explore their independence, engage in healthy and safe activities that enrich and improve their lives? And how does residential camp enter into this equation?
Let us be clear: we love all our campers! Alford Lake Camp distinguishes itself from other residential camps in the simple fact that we are ONE camp. We do not separate our age groups into different campuses. Together, young and old campers share the camp days in many ways. Yet, of course, there are differences in the camp experiences of an 8 year old camper and a 14 year old camper! Each age group attends activities with their own peers. This is important for the instruction of activities and allows for our counselors to tailor their instruction to the overall maturity and skill sets of the various age groups ultimately leading to a more meaningful activity experience for all. And of course, campers live with tent-mates who are within months of their own age, thus allowing for the sharing and understanding of their camp experiences to be appropriate for camper’s social, physical and personal development and interests. We grow as a camp community by coming together for whole camp activities, meals and special events. In all our camp events, we love that older campers become role models for our younger campers.
But most meaningful for our older campers, Guides as we call them, are the privileges and opportunities that are available ONLY to them. They are our Guide Crew, our Guide Mentors, our Guide Honor Trip participants and our S.O.A.R. candidates. The “hows” and the “whys” are easy to explain and the value of these opportunities is clear. Our 7th, 8th and 9th grade campers need ALC as much as they did when they were younger. They need stellar role models (our amazing counseling staff), they need structure (our daily liberal-arts approach to the activity schedule), they need meaningful and positive peer interaction and they need challenges to help them gain true and meaningful accomplishment in their lives (S.O.A.R).
So, back to S.O.A.R. (See, we told you we would discuss it!). Available for 7th, 8th and 9th graders who are at least 2nd year ALCers and full season Guide, the S.O.A.R. program is designed for campers ready to accept more leadership, explore and achieve mastery in a specific ALC activity. A summer long program is developed in each activity for these special campers to work DIRECTLY with an ALC counselor of the activity to achieve proven mastery in the chosen activity. Independent work, carefully monitored by the S.O.A.R. mentor, allows this camper to dedicate her time to achieving a high level of skill in her chosen activity. In short, the S.O.A.R. program allows our older campers the opportunity to commit and excel in her favorite activity and to understand and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that true dedication and mastery brings. Our S.O.A.R candidates are supported and encouraged to make a commitment and follow through with this program. What a valuable skill for this age!!
Not only does ALC provide fun, friendship and a healthy and safe summer for your 7th, 8th and/or 9th grader, we also allow and recognize dedication, commitment and excellence. Real achievement can not be rushed; real skill requires time and commitment and opportunities for developing excellence is what our teenagers crave and deserve. S.O.A.R and our Guide program has so much to offer our campers!! The lasting benefits of these experiences are invaluable and we encourage you to consider this window in your camper’s lives: how will they become confident in their leadership, skills and peer relationships? Where will they be given the opportunity to shine and define themselves? We believe the very best place for 7th, 8th and 9th graders is right here, on the shores of Alford Lake on what we proudly call, Guide Row!
Do you know a 7th, 8th or 9th grader who is ready to explore real challenge and growth? If so, please be in touch with us at 207-799-3005. We have so much to be proud of and our Guide Program is one of the most meaningful parts of our camp.
Sue McMullan, Director
Betsy Brayley, Assistant Director