SOS, Meet the Wilderness merge |

SOS, Meet the Wilderness merge

Dominique Taylor/Daily file photoSnowboard Outreach Society student Galilee Howell, 13, left, tests her courage, one of the five core values taught by SOS, as she practices sliding down the hill on her snowboard with the help of instructor Michael Newingham during an SOS session at Beaver Creek.

VAIL, Colorado ” Seeing a common mission and an opportunity to cut costs, two big local youth nonprofits have merged.

SOS Outreach and Meet the Wilderness will become the same group, SOS Executive Director Arn Menconi announced Friday.

“It just makes sense for nonprofits to consolidate, and it gives us an opportunity to have yearround programming,” said Menconi, who is also an Eagle County commissioner.

The groups will be able to save about $100,000 a year in administrative costs, Menconi said.

While SOS focuses on winter programs and Meet the Wilderness focuses on summer programs, both groups seek to build character, Menconi said.

“It’s about the outcomes of character development and health and wellness and building self-esteem,” he said.

Last year, SOS Outreach served 3,000 youths at 30 ski resorts across the country. They also worked with 500 local youths.

Meet the Wilderness, founded in 1974, is one of the county’s oldest nonprofits. It holds overnight trips for youths from Chicago and other big cities across the country. It also organizes wilderness trips for local fourth-graders, going to Dinosaur National Park and Colorado National Monument.

Meet the Wilderness Board President Mike Beltracchi said the merger will allow more money to go to programs and less money to go to overhead costs.

“It’s a very positive business move for both organizations,” he said.

The combined group will be called SOS Outreach, with Menconi as its director. However, the summer programs will still be branded Meet the Wilderness.

The new joint group’s first event will be today in Minturn’s Maloit Park, where 20 SOS students will be guided through the Meet the Wilderness ropes course.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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