SOS Outreach expects record weekend in Summit County, Vail Valley |

SOS Outreach expects record weekend in Summit County, Vail Valley

Daily News staff report
Justin Behravesh/Special to the DailyA student from Gypsum Creek Middle School gets a hand from an instructor at Beaver Creek in SOS Outreach's multi-day Learn-to-Ride program in Colorado's Vail Valley. More than 300 students will be in SOS programs at Beaver Creek this weekend.

More than 800 students will head to the mountains this weekend to ski and snowboard in SOS Outreach programs in Colorado and across the nation.

The Avon-based nonprofit, now in its 16th season, still does the majority of its outreach in Eagle and Summit counties, with more than 300 kids expected at Beaver Creek this weekend. But the organization also has programs running this weekend in places ranging from California to New York.

“We’ll have programs in 40 mountains this month, which is the most we’ve ever had,” said Arn Menconi, founder and executive director of SOS Outreach. “At Beaver Creek, we’ll have a mix of single-day, multi-day and multi-year kids that will be the most kids we’ve had at a single resort.

“There’s plenty going on in the Vail Valley, but I’m also excited about the evolution of programs outside the state, especially when you consider where they were a few years ago and where they’ll be a few years from now.”

John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division, said he also is pleased with the evolution of SOS.

“It’s remarkable to see the expansion and development of SOS Outreach over the last 16 years,” he said. “It all began with 40 kids going snowboarding at Vail for a single day and has evolved to 40 mountains and 4,500 kids since that time. At Vail, we’re proud to see the growth of SOS because it means more kids will get to enjoy a sport we all love.”

For SOS Outreach Eagle County program director Michelle Hartel, the continued growth of the program means the organization can remain a steady influence for kids, while developing a value-based curriculum that goes beyond the sport.

“This weekend will be our third ride day of the year, so all the students will focus on integrity, and what it means to them,” she said, adding that some participants would return for their eighth year.

Hartel said the most rewarding part of her job was to see the development of participants as they gained self-confidence and improved social skills, in addition to learning some new on-hill techniques.

“Our multi-year university kids really make the program what it is,” she said. “They’re the ones who take it upon themselves as a group to address issues in the community off-hill. When we’re on-hill, they enjoy mentoring our younger students throughout the day, and have proven to be great role models.

“It’s their enthusiasm and willingness to give back that helps make SOS the organization we are today.”

For more information on SOS Outreach, visit or call 970-926-9292.

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