Community Connection: SOS Outreach in Steamboat helps serve youth | SteamboatToday.com

Community Connection: SOS Outreach in Steamboat helps serve youth

In Ski Town, U.S.A., we pride ourselves on having a world class ski and snowboard resort minutes from downtown that everyone can enjoy.  Our economy flourishes with every snowflake, and SUV's with ski racks line the roads heading to the mountain every day.  While most of the population in Steamboat Springs anticipates winter eagerly, there is a substantial group of young people who might never get a chance to enjoy this magnificent resort.  That is where SOS Outreach steps in.

SOS Outreach, or SOS, is a nationwide organization based out of Edwards, and runs programs in 31 resorts at 13 different locations including Steamboat.  Originally known as Snowboard Outreach Society, they have since opened their program to skiing and summer activities.  Founded in 1993, SOS has served more than 50,000 disadvantaged youth by providing them with long-term life skills using a value based leadership curriculum.  The program integrates community service, character development and core values into a fun, experiential learning opportunity on and off the slopes.

SOS bases their curriculum off of six core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility.  Each week, participants are challenged with bringing their own definition and example of these values, and are encouraged to instill them into their daily lives.  In addition, kids are required to take part in local community service projects as well, furthering their sense of civic responsibility.

One of the most unique things about SOS is that it is not a one-time program.  Kids can come back year after year, and after they complete the initial academy program, they can return as Junior Leaders.  Graduates of the Junior Leader program can become Masters. Each year's activities build on the lessons of the previous year.

The city of Steamboat Springs Teen programs act as the local referral agency, and coordinate with SOS and the Steamboat Ski Area to provide 50 low-income or at-risk youth access to this program.   Kids must be referred by an outside organization, and go through an application process before committing to the program. 

Through this targeted recruitment process, underserved youth in the community are introduced to activities that they might not be able to experience otherwise. While there is an $85 fee for the first year of the program, and $100 fee for returning participants, scholarships are available for those who cannot afford it.

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Included in the program are lift tickets, rental gear and professional instruction for five full days on the mountain.  Two sessions are offered through the winter accommodating a total of 85 kids from Steamboat and surrounding Routt County communities.  Volunteers give their time acting as Sherpas, offering adult mentoring, sound advice and inspiring young people towards positive directions by instilling self-confidence, commitment and teamwork.

If you are interested in learning more about this inspiring program, visit sosoutreach.org.  To learn more about referring kids in Steamboat, or if you have a child you want to refer, email Steph Seiden at sseiden@steamboatsprings.net.   

Alexis Wolf is the Youth & Teen Program Coordinator for the city of Steamboat Springs.  Contact Wolf at 970-871-7053 or awolf@steamboatsprings.net.

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