Winter officially ended in mid-March, but a change in activities has always marked the transition in seasons more tangibly than a date on the calendar or even the lengthening hours of sunlight. At the Snowboard Outreach Society (SOS), the graduation of the final group of Learn to Ride (LTR) students on Sunday May 20th defined the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Although SOS is disappointed to see its busiest season of serving youth has come to a close, the accomplishments of the season elicit pride. SOS has used snowboarding to reach out to over 2,000 underserved and adjudicated youth since 1995, and SOS worked with 521 students in the 2000/2001 season! These students live in urban centers such as Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Portland. In addition, SOS draws over 40% of its students from the local schools in Eagle and Summit Counties. SOS has a strong presence in so many areas of the nation because of its relationships with service-minded people at the following resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs, Arapahoe Basin & Eldora in Colorado; Timberline in Oregon; Snoqualmie in Washington; Big Bear & Northstar in California, Brighton & The Canyons in Utah; and Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. SOS also aims to establish relationships with more resorts to further extend its outreach.

The participants in the SOS LTR program receive snowboard clothing, equipment rental, lift tickets and professional instruction for five days. SOS programs go beyond regular snowboard lessons because of an emphasis on developing character and building positive relationships by focusing on core values. Here’s what SOS students had to say:

“SOS was really fun and it helped me understand, to have courage, integrity, wisdom, discipline & compassion.”

“SOS is a special program that teaches not only snowboarding to beginners, but also teaches responsibility and encourages people to persevere and stick to something the begin.”

“…I made new friends and made better relationships with old friends.”

Spring is here and summer is coming. It is time for SOS to put away the snowboards and start mentoring youth through summer programs such as kayaking, mountain biking and rock climbing.

Donations of clothing, equipment, other goods and services, and corporate or individual contributions are always welcome. For more information call SOS at 970.845.7040, email sos@sosoutreach.org or visit www.sosoutreach.org.

SOS thanks the following organizations for their support of our charity:

Title: Vail Resorts, Inc.: Beaver Creek, Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge

Presenting: Specialty, Timberline Resort, Booth Creek Resorts: Snoqualmie, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Bear Mountain, North Star, Waterville Valley

Platinum: Vail Board of Realtors, Hernreich Family, Beaver Creek Merchants, Beaver Creek Resort Co., Times Mirror, Vail Valley Cares, High Country Shirt Works, Nike, TV8, Park City Resort, Brighton Resort, Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, Summit Foundation, Heimbold Foundation, Resort Sports Network

Gold: Holy Cross Energy, Optic Nerve, Dunn Computers, Thul Electronics, Fila, Giro Sport Design, K2, Vail Valley Foundation, Milo Sports, Wrist Protection Inc., VailNet, Bula Hats, CO School of Mines, Canyons Resort, Krystal 93, Jewish Charities of Baltimore, Dr. Patrick Klem, Kay Tuber,

Silver: Smith Optical, Avon Rec Center, DaKine, FirstBank, MLY Snowboards, Dragon Optical, Helly Hansen, Jefferson County Public Schools, Monterey Fund, United Way, MIA Snowboards, Transworld Snowboarding, Crossrocket.com, Thorlo, Palmer, Stomp Design, Arapahoe Basin Resort

Bronze: Continental Airlines, Catamount Real Estate, National Ski Areas Association, 686 Enterprises, Underground Snowboard Shop, Alphanumeric, Vans, Nantucket Nectars, Heelside Snowboards, Ride, Hard Corps, Slifer Designs, Eldora Ski Resort, Steamboat Springs Resort, Ten-80 Designs, East Wesst Real Estate