MAY 19, 2016
BY: SETH EHRLICH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOS OUTREACH
In 1995, SOS Outreach (SOS) began its activity-based programming when a pilot group of 15 metro-Denver youth were brought to the mountains to try snowboarding for the first time. Over 20 years later, 49,281 underserved youth between the ages of 8 and 18 have come through SOS Outreach programs. Since beginning solely with snow sports, the SOS curriculum has expanded to include summer adventure activities, leadership training, community service projects, and mentoring opportunities. Across all programs that are provided, the goal is to enable youth to unleash their potential to thrive.
SOS got to where we are today with an original focus on providing an introduction to the outdoors and core values. We then expanded to include a mentoring program based on our youth asking “what’s next?” when they completed the initial introductory program. This, combined with external research and internal evaluation results, demonstrated that a longer-term program would increase our impacts. During that time, we learned a lot about the impact of the unique blend of outdoor activity, adult mentorship, service learning, and leadership development that our programs provide.