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Building character education in underserved youth to enhance decision-making for healthy and successful
SOS Outreach was founded in 1993 in Colorado’s Vail Valley. As a nonprofit organization, our programs build character and self-esteem in youth through outdoor activities and the SOS curriculum. SOS served 5,190 youth across the nation in 2009-2010 and offered 18,553 total program days.
SOS Outreach began as the "Snowboard Outreach Society," before expanding to include skiing. This past winter, we began snowshoeing and telemark skiing programs as well. In January, we merged with Meet the Wilderness, which has served a similar demographic with outdoor sports since 1974. The merger means SOS Outreach is now a year-round, perennial organization that - in addition to snow sports - now includes activities like rock climbing, teams courses, hiking and camping.
Each SOS program integrates the five core values of our organization:
Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Wisdom and Compassion.
Our curriculum includes consistent adult mentors, community service opportunities, and the adult mentor relationships that are central to our programs.
About Learn to Ride
The largest, most fundamental winter program we offer is called Learn to Ride (LTR). Beyond learning how to snowboard, the SOS Learn to Ride curriculum promotes a positive self-image and teaches social competency and positive values.
Learn to Ride participants are provided with five days of professional instruction, equipment rental, lift tickets and clothing. Utilizing the fast learning curve and "cool factor" of snowboarding, students are able to overcome fears, reach new goals and discover new possibilities in a relatively short timeframe.
As part of the SOS curriculum, the five-day LTR program focuses on one of the five core values each day: Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Wisdom and Compassion. The morning begins with a discussion about the core value, and the activities of the day elicit examples of that value in action. The day ends with another discussion of the core value and SOS adult mentors encourage students to look for ways these values impact their everyday decisions.
The culmination of the program is a graduation ceremony where students and instructors acknowledge strengths in each other and express gratitude in front of a small audience.