Summer Kick-Off: Colorado National Monument

Here at SOS, we value getting outside, and think it is especially important for kids. That’s why we kick off summer programs each spring with camping trips to Colorado National Monument, open to almost every 4thgrader in Eagle County. This year we will get 158 local fourth grade kids out of the mountains and into the desert for a 4 day, 3 night experience including rock climbing, hiking, visiting national museums, cooking meals as a group, and sleeping under the stars.  The impact this kind of experience has for many of our youth is unforgettable.

Successful Monument trips are made possible through the dedication of our awesome summer guides.  This year, they are all returning guides, and some of them are going on 8 years with SOS.  They all have their Wilderness First Responder Certification, and like to spend more time outdoors than indoors.  As part of the Colorado National Monument trips they facilitate rock climbing and hiking activities, plan dinners for up to 75 kids, put together skit nights and aren’t afraid to act silly (when appropriate), teach kids about plants and the outside world, and relate the activities back to the SOS core values.  Without our amazing guides, these trips would not be nearly as impactful for our youth.

Former SOS Staff Member and current Summer Guide, Jacob Taddy, sums up why this program makes such an impact:  “Monument includes a full day of climbing which, with youth, is such a powerful way to incorporate the SOS core values.  The kids use the values of courage and discipline to get up on the wall, compassion to support each other in the challenging task, etc.  It incorporates all of the SOS core values in one activity.”

Besides the fun daytime activities like climbing, hiking, and visiting museums, the Colorado National Monument trip is also an overnight base camping experience.  This includes cooking group meals together as a team.  As Jacob puts it, “Many of the students have not had an opportunity to help out in the kitchen at home, so they are thrilled when they get the opportunity to cut veggies, learn new basic skills, and contribute to the group by assisting in preparing a meal for everyone.”  Monument trips give youth opportunities like these that increase their sense of belonging and self-esteem.

With Monument trips in the field every week in May, there’s no question of easing into summer programs slowly. For SOS we are diving in head first and looking forward to full summer of inspiring youth through outdoor sports!

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