SOS Outreach Partners With Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM)
As students across our community head back to school, it creates a space to reflect on the countless hours and memories created in the outdoors this summer across the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM) and partner agencies. SOS Outreach (SOS) is just one proud partner that works to promote involvement in the great outdoors. At SOS Outreach, we believe that outdoor experiences have a profound impact on us. Physically, mentally, and emotionally—these places help us live healthier and happier lives. Yet for many children, these experiences are outside of reach. This is why SOS is proud to partner with EVOM to bring these opportunities within reach for our community. In partnership with EVOM, SOS has engaged with over 650 individuals across summer programs this year here in Eagle County!
Founded with Vail Resorts in 1993, SOS changes young lives, building character and leadership in underserved kids through mentoring outdoors. Across 25 years, over 65,000 youth have engaged in SOS’ progressive outdoor adventure-based programs and benefitted from the long-term support and encouragement that helps give youth an equal (or better) chance at success.
While snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, and backpacking are aspects of the curriculum, the program is infinitely more than learning how to do an S turn or how to tie a figure 8 knot. SOS uses outdoor activities to engage youth in a mentor-driven curriculum that builds positive social values, develops leadership skills, and enhances resiliency in targeted underserved, at-risk youth populations. Working with youth starting in the fourth grade, the SOS curriculum follows students through their senior year of high school, requiring increased commitment each year, helping kids grow over time into healthy, confident, engaged young adults. Mentorship is key, and the outdoors aids in building that connection. Alongside their mentors, participants practice core values, join in leadership workshops and complete service-learning projects in their communities. It’s centered around giving back to the community and to the next generation of participants.
As Elizabeth Cooney, a long-time educator at Edwards Elementary School reflects on this summer’s 4th-grade expedition to the Colorado National Monument with SOS, she identifies the importance of these opportunities for youth. Elizabeth shares, “To be honest the fourth grade trip to the monument is one of the most important trips I have ever taken with students in my years of teaching. Not only does it reinforce the fourth-grade curriculum of Colorado history and geology, but students learn so much more about themselves and life. For many of our students at Edwards Elementary School, this is the first time our students have slept in a tent, or even slept away from their parents. These experiences alone are life-changing for so many students.
One of the most challenging parts of the trip is the first night when students are getting acclimated to their new surroundings, however, this may be the best part of the trip for me. When I see the students in the morning after that first night, there is a newfound confidence in my students’ faces. I also appreciate the comprehensive introduction to the outdoors that SOS provides to our students. The integration of the core values into every aspect of the trip allows students to truly understand the meaning of integrity, compassion, courage, discipline, wisdom, and humility. They are provided real-time examples of these qualities which I LOVE! Rock climbing, cooking, hiking, problem-solving, being scared, uncomfortable, dirty, and proud are all part of what makes this trip special to me! I believe strongly that moments like this trip are what kids will remember for years to come.”
It is in these moments — overcoming physical fatigue, facing fears, and tasting the triumph of reaching new heights — that SOS kids develop skills they can use long after they leave the program. SOS is honored to partner with EVOM to create greater opportunities for our local youth to access the outdoors.