Vail Daily column: SOS Outreach builds self-esteem, life skills
December 8, 2013
Editor's note: This column, submitted by Vail Resorts, showcases the nonprofits that the company supports through its Vail Resorts Echo program.
As SOS Outreach launches winter programs this season, the organization is proud to celebrate 20 years of serving youth in Eagle County in partnership with Vail Resorts. Founded in 1993, SOS has served more than 36,000 youth throughout the past 20 years, introducing participants to snowsports as well as the core values of courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility.
During the upcoming season, SOS will serve 600 participants in Eagle County, 250 of them in the long-term, year-round University curriculum. Eagle also has 38 adult mentors, or "sherpas," who will lead students through the curriculum, encouraging goal setting, modeling the core values and having fun in the snow! All of these students are supported by generous donations from Vail Resorts Echo, including gear and season passes.
The SOS curriculum builds self-esteem and life skills through leadership workshops, community service projects, core value training, mentorship and ride days. Each activity day is paired with one of SOS' core values, empowering students to make concrete connections between the core value and the day's sport.
This year, SOS is launching a new high-intensity leadership curriculum called the Masters program. The new Masters program is designed for participants who have already completed five years of SOS programming and are looking for more ways to develop themselves as leaders in the community. Also new this year, SOS has added humility to the core values students learn on the hill.
While the organization is excited by all the new programs and curriculum developments, the real excitement is due to the impacts SOS is seeing in participants. One long-term Eagle County participant explained the positive effect the curriculum has had in her life: "Without SOS and the support that I received, I don't doubt I would have gone down the wrong path sooner or later. What (SOS gave) me is the path to success and change. … Change is your future, and the best way to predict your future is to create it."
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SOS looks forward to celebrating 20 years of that type of impact with Vail Resorts!
Seth Ehrlich is the vice president of operations for SOS Outreach. Through Vail Resorts Echo, Vail Resorts hopes to connect its communities to its efforts — from on the ground conservation programs to grants for local schools. Aimed at both protecting the natural resources that surround the resorts and helping build stronger communities where its employees live and work, Vail Resorts Echo encompasses three core efforts: environmental stewardship, charitable giving and community engagement. Learn more at http://www.vailresortsecho.com.