Mountain Recreation and SOS Outreach team up for kids programs
EAGLE COUNTY — There’s a new partnership in town and local kids will soon benefit from the collaboration.
Mountain Recreation and SOS Outreach are joining forces to help kids gear up for life as they build foundations of healthy and active lifestyles.
“The move to join forces was spurred by the idea that both physical and mental health can be improved by getting more community members into the outdoors and that together we are better,” Mountain Recreation Executive Director Janet Bartnik said. “The goal is simple: To serve our entire community more broadly than either organization could do on their own by offering as many life-changing experiences in the outdoors as possible.”
Along with a new name, Bartnik noted that Mountain Recreation has a new vision for the district. That vision includes offering a broader range of high-quality programs that reach more of our community.
“Mountain Rec will help families ease into the wilderness with an ‘indoor-to-outdoor’ or ‘front country to backcountry’ staged approach in partnership with SOS Outreach,” Bartnik said. “SOS Outreach has earned a stellar reputation built on its mission to help underserved kids gear up for life. Their curriculum develops character based on their core values of humility, courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion. They have specially-trained staff, proven curriculum and the USDA Special Use Permit to offer an array of wilderness adventures, three key pieces Mountain Rec was missing.”
According to Scott Robinson, Mountain Recreation’s marketing and communications manager, SOS will continue to use its funding to engage underserved youth and Mountain Recreation will be able to utilize its funding to open these programs to the entire community.
“Our partnership was driven to expand access and change more lives beyond the mission-aligned programs that SOS is providing. This partnership enables open enrollment for everyone and expanded access that SOS could not otherwise engage with our existing structure,” SOS Outreach Executive Director Seth Ehrlich said.
Robinson said the golden key that unlocks the backcountry experiences for the community is SOS’ U.S. Forest Service special use permit.
“This permit is rare and highly coveted as many organizations and touring guides across the valley can attest,” Robinson said. “The special use permit authorizes SOS Outreach to provide outfitting and guiding services with the Eagle-Holy Cross and Dillon Ranger Districts of the White River National Forest.”
Robinson noted the legacy permit was first acquired in 1975 by an organization called Meet the Wilderness. It was transferred to SOS Outreach in 2009, following the merger between the two organizations. With its backcountry permit and expertise in the field, SOS Outreach provides seasoned instructors to lead SOS Wilderness Camps that include courses such as introduction to camping and backpacking. Additionally, in what he called the “holy grail,” Robinson said SOS can offer five-day backpacking trips at either the Flat Tops or the Holy Cross Wilderness area.
With the new partnership, Robinson said, Mountain Recreation will step in by providing resources and offering scholarships to those who qualify. Additionally, Mountain Recreation has developed a series of day excursions called Backyard Adventure Camps for kids age 7 and older which are designed to create a natural progression into the SOS Wilderness Camps that start for children age 9 and older.
Robinson noted camp participants will learn the fundamentals of outdoor recreation skills through classes including rock climbing, H20 and multiday adventure day camps.
The camps are set to debut this summer under the umbrella of Mountain Recreation’s new Explorer Camps. Registration opens today along with the traditional Rec Kids and sports camps.