Let’s Go Fly A Kite! Up Where the Air is Clear!
SOS Launches Summer Programs for Local Youth
By Caitlin Kincaid, SOS Outreach
In Leadville, it is easy to take for granted access to amazing scenery and an incredible outdoor playground. SOS Outreach is a youth development nonprofit which ensures that under-served youth have access to those same outdoor experiences while completing a multi-year leadership program.
This summer, 550 students throughout Colorado will complete a continuous year of experiential learning with SOS, continuing directly from the winter program into summer. Thirty of them will be Lake County residents. They will complete up to 30 days of programming annually across activity days, service projects and leadership workshops.
The adventures kicked off this week with both Backyard Adventure (BYA) programs and Wilderness Expeditions. BYA is an introductory day camp where students are exposed to a variety of new sports. This week’s line-up included rafting, biking and hiking, as well as service opportunities. Wilderness Expeditions are week long backpacking trips for more experienced students. Students hike into the White River National Forest learning survival skills, leave no trace principles and the camp safety.
Students return from these summer activities with a better appreciation for the environment, and a stronger sense of their own potential to succeed. Challenging students with activities outside of their comfort zones breaks down their barriers, creating better learning environments. After a Wilderness Expedition last summer, Abby, an 8-year participant told us: “We are like a blade of grass compared to the universe, or a star in the sky but without that one blade of grass the field doesn’t look as green, or without that one star, the sky doesn’t shine as bright.”
SOS has been exposing youth to skiing and snowboarding for twenty years, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the organization began to offer summer opportunities as well. Summer programs enable SOS to share new sports with kids who might not otherwise go backpacking, or rock climbing, or paddle boarding or biking. Now SOS can work with kids year round!
Beyond just sports, SOS engages students in leadership, service and core value activities, which will help them succeed in the future. The fun activity – whether it is snowboarding or rock climbing – motivates at-risk students to get involved, but the opportunities for personal development keep them involved. Each activity day is paired with one of SOS’s core values, including courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility. Students discuss the meanings of the values with their peers and mentors, exploring how those values connect both to the sport and to their daily lives.Volunteer Cameron Jones demonstrats a trick at the skateboard outing on Leadville’s Mineral Belt Trail. Photo: Leadville SOS Program.