SOS Outreach kicks off season in Vail Valley
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Hundreds of students from around the Vail Valley gathered in the auditorium at Berry Creek Middle School a couple of weekends ago to officially kick off their season of snowboarding with SOS Outreach.
Returning students assembled on the first day, a Saturday, while newcomers to the multi-year University program came together Sunday.
Saudy Solis returned for her second year of SOS with some advice for first-year students.
“Don’t be scared because it’s not that hard. The sherpas are actually pretty nice,” she said, referring to the adult mentors.
Solis said she also enjoyed the core value curriculum. “To me, courage means to not be scared to try new things and just keep going,” she said, adding that she has improved in school, and learned the importance of being honest with her friends, teachers and parents.
Program director Dan Ben-Horin was pleased by the turnout.
“We were pleasantly surprised to see this many students come out this year,” he said. “We actually registered more kids than we have available slots, and have about 75 other kids who want to join, so seeing their enthusiasm gets us even more excited for the upcoming year.”
SOS executive director Arn Menconi said it was the smoothest orientation to date.
“The turnout alone was impressive. Sunday was standing room only by the time all the kids, parents and siblings were there,” he said. “It was great to be able to explain to parents that this is so much more than just learning how to ski or snowboard, and their kids will learn to appreciate public service, and pick up leadership qualities that will translate to other parts of their lives.”
Ben-Horin said it was rewarding to see more than two-dozen program graduates return for orientation as adult mentors.
“It’s really remarkable to see the growth of the students who have been in the program for several years,” he said. “We had a couple students come back who have been involved for more than 10 years. They really make it all work, and it’s great to hold them up as an example for younger students and say, ‘This is what SOS is, and there’s no reason you can’t achieve like these students have.'”
SOS will serve 4,500 students this year, including 500 in Eagle County.
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