From Kristin Stoddard, Program Director at SOS Outreach
SOS Outreach recently celebrated its largest winter season in history, serving 4,074 youth across seven states and ten program sites throughout Colorado, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Michigan. SOS Outreach, a national youth development nonprofit, engages underserved youth 8–18 in year round programs that incorporate winter and summer outdoor adventures. With an emphasis on positive adult mentorship, service learning, and leadership development, programs are structured for long-term life skills development, and youth can participate up to five or more years.
In addition to our winter programs offered at 31 mountain resorts, some youth also had the opportunity to participate in snowshoe adventures. This past February in Colorado, SOS partnered with Friends of the Dillon Ranger District to take youth from Summit and Lake County to participate in trail maintenance at Vail Pass as one of their winter service projects. Youth helped nail in blue diamond trail markers on trees for backcountry users on the Corral Creek trail. While in the field, the group also learned about snow science. Specifically, staff taught youth about snow pack – how to dig a snow pit and use shovels and probes to understand the layers. Check out more photos from the trip here.
More recently in April, a group of Colorado Masters students, who are beyond their fourth year of SOS, snowshoed three miles to Vance’s Cabin, a 10th Mountain Division Hut located just north of Ski Cooper. Students practiced leading and navigating on trail and were introduced to basic avalanche safety (beacon hide and seek!). The trip gave youth the opportunity to slow down and reflect on another meaningful winter season and to start daydreaming about upcoming summer adventures (paddle through the Grand Canyon anyone?).
As the snow now melts, SOS is gearing up for summer adventures for youth and prepping for another epic winter season ahead, including the launch of additional Midwest programs outside of Minneapolis and Chicago. SOS is headquartered in Edwards, Colorado with an additional four full time offices in Frisco, Denver, Tahoe, and Seattle. In the Pacific Northwest, K2 Sports has hosted SOS Outreach in their Seattle headquarters since 2007 and significantly impacted opportunities for youth through their generous support.