A national organization is brought local in Eagle County, Colorado. SOS Outreach services 5,000 kids between the ages of 8 and 18. They use outdoor sports and activities to hook children into a long-term mentoring program that fosters leadership development.
SOS Outreach instills six core values in their youth: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, and humanity. For every sports activity the kids participate in, they also participate in a service learning activity to better themselves and their community.
SOS Outreach isn’t just an outdoor adventure sports organization, it's focus is the betterment of the youth in their valley. Their Master's Program[.pdf] is a special project that SOS offers to the older students to help them transition between the end of high school and what comes next.
“One of the success stories that we’ve seen lately is one of our 18-year-old kids, Mario, he’s in our Master’s Program. He’s just absolutely incredible. He’s the type of kid where if you met him and just said hi you wouldn’t get the full story,” says Lucy Moral, a development coordinator for SOS Outreach. “After getting to know him and what he’s gone through it’s been an eye-opening look at the families that come to us and where they come from.”
Mario’s story isn’t the only one that sounds like this. SOS Outreach really wants to help be a support system for at-risk youth in the area. They want their kids to take responsibility for not only the projects they are involved in, but for their personal change.
SOS Outreach does anything they can to help support their clients, including providing all the gear needed to do the outdoor activities involved in the program. In Eagle County, the most popular sports for the program are those in the snow. At SOS’s main office in Edwards, Colo. a huge closet houses coats, helmets, and other ski and snowboard equipment.
Of course all of this activity and learning wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers.
“We call our volunteers ‘sherpas,’ and they are our mentors. They work in the winter time by riding with our kids, they meet and talk with them in between those ride days, they attend workshops with them, and they do service learning projects with them,” says Program Director Rob Crawford. “There’s great interaction between the sherpas and the students and hopefully helping them have a better tool kit for their life ahead of them.”