Posted on

Camp Soar Helps Young Girls Find Their Wings

Camp Soar Helps Young  Girls Find Their Wings
INVESTING IN YOUTH – During the annual camp, Captain Susanna Haynes and her team strive to invest in the young girls in the area, as they teach them how to be successful and confident throughout life.Photo by Makaylee Randolph
Camp Soar Helps Young  Girls Find Their Wings
INVESTING IN YOUTH – During the annual camp, Captain Susanna Haynes and her team strive to invest in the young girls in the area, as they teach them how to be successful and confident throughout life.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

Every year, United States Air Force Captain Susanna Haynes returns to her hometown to host a free camp that strives to help girls grow into confident, successful leaders. This year, the camp helped over 150 girls find their wings and learn to soar through life.

Southeastern Technical College was bustling with excitement last week on June 6-8, as the annual camp welcomed girls ages 10-21 to participate in fun indoor and outdoor activities, attend informative sessions, and receive encouragement in their journey to becoming women. The camp was well attended not only by those from surrounding counties, but also young girls from as far away as Dublin, Baxley, and even Atlanta. Camp host and 1998 Vidalia High School graduate Captain Haynes addressed the campers during the opening session on Thursday, June 6, as she emphasized the camp’s mission to build the next generation of leaders. She began by sharing a quote by Bill Owens, which says, “True leadership lies in guiding others to success, and in ensuring that everyone

2A continued from page

is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well.”

“That is my purpose for you during our time together over these next three days is to help guide you to success, to help you to soar; to encourage and inspire; to motivate you all to be the best that you can be,” she told the campers. “I believe in you; I believe in each and every one of you. I believe that you can get there. I know that you can get there. I’m counting on you to get there. The world is counting on you to get there. Will it be easy? No, but when you get there, it will be worth it.”

She added, “Just know that a lot of people really care about you and want the best for you, so we have curated a camp that will help you to soar in life.”

Mayor Doug Roper also spoke to the campers during the opening session, as he connected the idea of soaring with going through life. Roper told the girls that the name of the camp reminded him of a bald eagle, which symbolizes courage, strength, and freedom.

“When an eagle is born, is it ready to fly? No. It’s actually not even called an eagle at that point; it’s called an eaglet. It takes up to 12 weeks for that eaglet to grow and go through a process to gain the amount of feathers that it takes to fly,” he remarked. “You ladies are very, very fortunate. Over the next few days, you have some incredible women that are going to pour into your life. Don’t fall into this trap: don’t look at them or other important people in your life and think, ‘I’ll never get there.’ They are not where they are without going through the same process that each one of you are going to go through. It’s a journey. It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint.”

He encouraged the campers to use the time during the camp to reflect on their lives and where they may be in the process of soaring. “Some of you may be soaring already; some of you may be growing those feathers; some of you may be the eaglet. It’s different for each one of us. Don’t look at where other people are and think, ‘I’ll never get there,’” Roper emphasized.

The mayor told the girls that he had recently looked at a telemetry study on eagles, which shared specifics about eagle flight patterns. “When that eagle finally grows those feathers and takes flight, some incredible things happen,” he said. “They can fly up to 225 miles a day, and the average for the eagles studied was about 98 miles a day. As you grow, as you learn, as you sit up under the tutelage of these folks for the next three days and other people that are important to you in your life, once you come out of that nest, you are meant to fly. Go share the things that you learned and be a positive impact.”

Roper continued, “Once that eagle leaves that nest, it may come back for a period of time and hang around still underneath the tutelage of its mom and dad, but when it leaves that nest, it is meant to soar and meant to fly. There is a correlation between us and the eagle; when you think about the eagle what is that predominate feature you think about? What is it known for? That solid white head. Do you know how long it takes that eagle to get that? Five years. It’s born with a completely different colored head. Over time, it is transformed to that symbol that we all know about. It is a marathon, not a sprint.”

He concluded, “Do me a favor: when you leave here, leave energized and ready to soar.”

Following these addresses, the girls participated in a virtual prayer session led by Pastor Cora Jakes, the daughter of famous evangelist T.D. Jakes, before beginning their activities of dancing, games, and more.

Throughout the week, in addition to these games and activities, the girls also heard from a variety of speakers who all focused on soaring in different areas of life. Those speakers included: Pastor Lawana Marlin, soaring in faith; Cashaunda Smith, soaring in adversity; Miss Vidalia Onion Kylin Miller, soaring in confidence; Pastor Shwanda Reed, soaring in self esteem; Rainna Gay. soaring in academics; Jadhari Jones, soaring in courage; and John McCleod, soaring in fitness.

There were also special presentations by Georgia Southern University Center for Wildlife Education Executive Director Steve Hein, who brought a live bald eagle to the camp, as well as the Atlanta Drum Academy Elite Drumline and Nizhoni Dance Team.

Overall, the camp strived to provide girls with the life skills they need to be successful, while also building their confidence through a faithbased approach. Information regarding next year’s camp will be shared at the beginning of 2025, as all females in the area are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity.

RETURNING TO HER HOMETOWN – Though currently serving as a United States Air Force chaplin and stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California, Captain Susanna Haynes returns to her hometown every year to invest in the community.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

SOARING LIKE EAGLES – Mayor Doug Roper spoke to the girls about the connection between people and bald eagles during his address at the camp’s opening session, as he encouraged the girls to work to soar like eagles.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

Recent Death Notices