Friday, June 18, 2021

Feel Good Friday - SOS Outreach

Posting one more Tahoe-related Feel Good Friday before I head home and highlighting the work of SOS Outreach. 

Founded in 1993 as the Snowboard Outreach Society, the original purpose of this Colorado-based organization was to improve negative perception of snowboard culture. They began by taking 15 kids from Denver to Vail Mountain and teaching them to snowboard.


In the 28 years since, SOS Outreach has grown into a national nonprofit with offices in 15 locations, including both South and North Lake Tahoe. Their programs “combine outdoor exploration, positive adult mentorship, leadership skills and community service to help youth discover joy, feel included, overcome challenges, improve their mental health, and become strong leaders.” Their vision is “to make sure every kid we meet gets stronger”.


The programs run by SOS Outreach are structured in three phases. Phase one is for youth in grades 4-12. It begins with an introduction to skiing or snowboarding and the core values of “courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion, and humility.” Phase two is a 4-year mentor program where groups of 3 to 5 participants are matched up with an adult mentor and a peer mentor. They continue the outdoor activities and add a focus on peer bonding, life skills and leadership development. Phase three is an option for interested youth to become peer mentors and continue developing their leadership skills. There are also summer programs such as rock-climbing and backpacking that teach basic wilderness travel skills along with the core values.


Since they began 28 years ago, SOS Outreach volunteers have worked with over 70,000 kids at 22 mountains in 9 states. To hear directly from participants about how this has changed them, you can watch this short video.


If you’d like to help young people gain confidence and leadership skills by spending time in the great outdoors, there are many ways you can support SOS Outreach. Make a donation, become a volunteer and amplify their message on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Instagram.

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