Ehrlich: 30 years of empowering youth by connecting them to snowsports

Seth Ehrlich
Valley Voices
Seth Ehrlich

It was 30 years ago out of Golden Peak that an idea was born. An idea that brought forward the power of sliding down a mountain on snow to create real and lasting change. That idea was SOS Outreach and the result was connecting youth to the mountains, to snowsports and to their community.

Since that start, we’ve developed a multi-year mentoring program to empower kids and teenagers to discover their true potential. We believe that the outdoors is a space for everyone and are here to show youth that they belong.

After developing confidence on the mountain, youth work in peer groups with their mentor to develop skills and foster community off the hill. It’s truly incredible that skiing and snowboarding can be the catalyst to a sense of belonging with connections that will last a lifetime.

As I reflect on the last 30 years, I think about all of the kids who have been connected to resources through SOS Outreach and, as a result, are thriving. Our kids are exceptional and continue to inspire me. I am so grateful to this community, to Vail and to Vail Resorts, for your vision and dedication to our mission.

We have expanded what started here to 15 communities and 25 mountain resorts engaging 3,000 kids annually from grades 4-12. We’ve ensured our teenagers have opportunities to stay connected to this community through careers in the outdoor industry and support to participate in this sport that they love. Thank you for walking with us in a powerful way to get us to where we are today. Together, we do much more than introduce youth to skiing/riding; we build connections that transform trajectories.

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As the recipient of this year’s Colorado Snowsports Museum’s Top of the Hill Award, I want to dedicate this recognition to our entire SOS Outreach community. To the thousands of families, parents, volunteers, mentors, instructors, teachers, counselors, partners, mountain resorts, manufacturers, retailers and donors — this award is for you. We have proven what happens when you gather together around an idea and a shared purpose. We are stronger together!

There are 80,000 kids to date who have been impacted, and we’re just getting started.

To all of you, know the change that you can make through something that you love. Do not lose sight of the real and lasting impact that you can have.

Seth Ehrlich is the executive director of SOS Outreach. To learn more, go to

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