Founded in 1993 in Eagle County, SOS Outreach was created to promote youth development and leadership through outdoor sports and community engagement. Initially created specifically to expose kids to snow sports, the organization now promotes engagement in a range of both summer and winter outdoor experiences. Programs include skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, camping, backpacking, stand up paddleboarding and more, and are offered in Eagle and Summit County, the Denver Metro area, Tahoe, and the Pacific Northwest.

Joan Dieter, the Youth Program Director for Summit County, speaks to the importance of SOS and getting at-risk kids outside: “The outdoors are transformative. Being outside provides an unreal opportunity for connectivity between youth and adults and provides life skills that will continue throughout their lives. It provides the opportunity to bond, problem solve and take care of each other.”

SOS serves 5,000 at-risk kids ages 8 to 18 annually from a large variety of backgrounds. Programs range from one and two day adventure sport introductions to four-year leadership and mentor programs. Kids are recruited and nominated by local teachers, school staff members, and leaders in the community based on 20 different risk factors (economic, social, geographic, behavioral, etc.).

Climbing - courtesy of SOS Outreach
Photo courtesy of SOS Outreach.

The curriculum is based around six core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion, and humility. Dedicated volunteers are responsible for leading trips, camps, and community projects, acting as mentors to promote these values through collaborative discussions and demonstrative service.

The programs are a perfect blend of education and adventure. Dieter says, “Not only do they learn a new sport and go through that progression, but they also have this overlay of our core values and apply that to their learning process as they grow through the program.”

With three full-time offices in Edward, Frisco, and Denver and satellite offices in Leadville, Durango, and Steamboat Springs, SOS is a Colorado-grown organization, responsible for getting thousands of at-risk youth into the state’s beautiful outdoors every year.

Mountain partnerships with Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Ski Cooper, Steamboat Resort, Purgatory Resort, and Loveland Ski Area offer rentals, lift ticket, and lesson packages for less than $30 a day. Kids are given affordable access to some of Colorado’s finest alpine playgrounds and a safe and constructive environment to learn about safety, technical skills, and leadership.

Backpacking - courtesy of SOS Outreach
An SOS Outreach backpacking trip. Photo courtesy of SOS Outreach

Tying together accessibility, mentorship, sport technique, and community service are all part of the SOS experience. Dieter continues, “There’s an on hill aspect to the entire program, but then a whole other part that’s about connecting with a mentor, learning about community resources, gaining life skills and diving in to the core values.”

SOS Outreach works with other outdoor organizations like the Cycle Effect, Friends of Dillon Ranger District, High Country Conservation Center, Blue River Horse Sanctuary, Dillon Junior Sailing and Keystone Dirt Camp to cultivate a large range of passions and build relationships with other like-minded individuals within the outdoor community.

Dieter says, “Learning about our outdoor spaces and having an opportunity to be stewards of our outdoor spaces encourages [the kids] to be more informed citizens… learn the benefit and how amazing our land is and how important it is that we take care of it.”

Some of SOS’s favorite spots to bring groups are Camp Hale, Ten Mile Creek and trails and sites in the Eagles Nest and Holy Cross Wilderness. They also utilize Lake Dillon for water sports.

As SOS continues to grow they are piloting programs in the Midwest, a project headed by a former participant. They are also hoping to merge summer and winter activities together to offer a cohesive year-round curriculum.

Being a part of SOS is about more than just gaining leadership and hard skills. According to Dieter, it’s about “being connected to something much larger than yourself. Standing on top of a mountain does wonders for people to see how much we have available to us in terms of our land, how many people are coming out, and why we need to learn about and protect [our land]”.

If you’re interested in getting involved in SOS Outreach in Colorado or are curious about other ways to get involved in your local outdoor community, contact Joan Dieter at jdieter@sosoutreach.org. To learn more or apply to a SOS Outreach program, visit the website.

What We Believe

We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More