SOS Outreach marks largest weekend ever | SummitDaily.com

SOS Outreach marks largest weekend ever

Randy Wyrick
The Vail Daily

EAGLE COUNTY — What do you get with 1,274 kids across 14 resorts in five states?

Unlimited potential — and SOS Outreach's Compassion Week.

SOS Outreach has been around 22 years, steadily growing, like the kids who come through their programs. They're doing the same good stuff, but now they're doing a lot more of it.

This past weekend was the most kids ever in SOS Outreach programs at one time. They're in different stages of their programs — some are beginning a week-long stint, some are ending and others are in one-day programs — but they're all doing and learning something good.

Besides Vail and Beaver Creek, where SOS Outreach has its roots, Park City hosted 45 kids for the first time Sunday.

Park City is a pilot program with the opportunity to expand, and the opportunity is significant, said Seth Ehrlich, SOS Outreach executive director.

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They're excited about Park City because it's new and for the same reason everyone else is — multiple mountains within 30 minutes of Salt Lake City.

SOS Outreach estimates it will host 4,200 kids this winter, up from around 3,500 last year. They work with 200 youth agencies and schools across five states — groups like Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters — reaching underserved kids who could use a little help, or maybe a nudge in the right direction.

"We train them, and they identify the kids who need additional support and a community," Ehrlich said. "We provide that for them, so that they are more likely to graduate high school and go on to college."

Core values

SOS Outreach offers a progressive program tailored to kids ages 8-18 that centers on six core values, designed to promote character and build leadership skills. Those values are the following:

• courage

• discipline

• integrity

• wisdom

• compassion

• humility

SOS programs use adventure sports, adult mentors, service learning and leadership development to help point engage participants for future success.

Masters students have gone through the five-day on-snow program, five day off-snow and community service. Masters students are between 15 and 17 years old.

"Many of the kids we work with have never been pushed. They rise to it," Erlich said.

SOS Outreach is growing because mountain partners, volunteers and staff work to make it grow, said Theresa Papandrea, vice president of programs.

"Without our mountain resort partners, volunteers and supporters, we wouldn't be able to reach nearly as many kids," Papandrea said. "It's awesome to see how the whole ski community, mountains, skiers and industry leaders are committed to creating greater opportunities for youth in the outdoors and giving back to kids in their communities."

"It is absolutely amazing to see the impact from students standing up at the end of a ride day recognizing their peers for how they integrate the core values into their riding and their life. And how far that impact is going to reach in this one week, Compassion Week — it's awesome," Erlich said.

About SOS Outreach

This is SOS Outreach’s largest week ever: 1,274 kids in 14 resorts across five states, including: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Ski Cooper, Steamboat Mountain Resort, and Purgatory in Colorado; launching programs at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah; Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington State; and Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada.

Founded in 1993, SOS Outreach is a national youth development program that introduces underserved youth to adventure sports like skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and backpacking.

Serving more than 5,000 youth annually, SOS Outreach promotes long-term success through program that focus on service, goal-setting, life skills workshops, core value development, and positive adult mentorship.

To learn more, visit http://www.sosoutreach.org, or call 970-926-9292.