Camp SOAR gives Special Olympic athletes chance to shine

Camp SOAR gives Special Olympic athletes chance to shine

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by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 6:35 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 11 at 6:01 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hundreds of Special Olympic athletes are enjoying camp this week. 

Camp SOAR got underway Monday and runs through Friday at the Levine Jewish Community Center is South Park. 

This is the 13th year for the camp and organizers say about 350 campers ranging from age 10 to 70 will take part. 

Campers are enjoying numerous activities including basketball, tennis and arts and crafts. 

"We're trying to build their self esteem, self confidence, self awareness and make them feel like they're on top of the world," said founder Bob Bowler.  Veteran Robin Callway says the camp never gets old.  

"I like hanging out with friends that I do not know, or that I do know and it's just like some catching up to do." 

Many volunteers feel the same. 

According to Gracie Flanigan, "you learn so many life lessons, just with patience with and just learning how to adapt to different situations and you really feel the love and warmth in this area and, so, you just get so much happiness out if it."

Camp SOAR is free, making it accessible to many special needs people. 

"They wouldn't have the opportunity because of the cost factor or because of their disability; the other camps aren't set up for them," said Bowler.

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