SOS outreach winter programs gearing up |

SOS outreach winter programs gearing up

Theresa Papandrea
Special to the Tribune
Provided to the TribuneSOS program participants are show at Heavenly Mountain Resort. This year, SOS plans to serve around 150 youth from South Lake Tahoe.

As the snow is falling, SOS Outreach is gearing up for the winter season in Tahoe. As SOS begins its 19th season, and seventh in Tahoe, more youth than ever will be exposed to adventure sports while at the same time learning leadership skills and core values.

SOS will serve 400 students in the Tahoe region this year; 75 of those will participate in the long-term university program at Heavenly and Northstar, nearly twice the number of students who participated last year. The university program isn’t just skiing and snowboarding, but it teaches youth to be active members in their community through service projects, helping at community events, and through life skill workshops. Tahoe operates under the national SOS programs which will serve more than 5,200 youth this year through five offices at 35 ski resorts.

While most skiers and snowboarders are just looking for a good time, SOS kids are learning to define and practice values such as courage, discipline, and integrity. Participants come from a variety of backgrounds, including low-income households, single-parent families, or exposure to drugs and alcohol. Along with the opportunity to experience mountain sports, SOS mentors provide positive role models and encouragement for the youth.

Tahoe participants have already started putting the core values into practice with service projects throughout the area. Students have given their time to clean stables at Piping Rock Ranch, staff the South Tahoe library Halloween party, and wrap Christmas presents and help with the Festival of Trees and Lights all in the spirit of giving back to their community. Through leadership workshops, community service projects, core value training, mentor ship, and on hill ride days, the SOS curriculum builds self-esteem and life skills.-

All of this positive change is made possible through the support of community members who step up to be mentors and through the generosity of mountain partnerships. Without the support we receive from the community and Vail Resorts, this level of impact wouldn’t happen. Every winter it is incredible to watch the community come together as kids meet their volunteers, instructors and mentors on the slopes. This couldn’t happen without passes donated by Vail Resorts and lift tickets from Sierra at Tahoe and Tahoe Donner. Youth are also wearing gear sent in by corporations who support SOS.

SOS will be working with many local schools (Bijou Community, Sierra House, South Tahoe Middle, Incline Elementary, Incline Middle, Truckee Elementary School and youth from Alder Creek Middle School) as well as youth from Sacramento, Reno and the Bay Area.

SOS Outreach is a national youth development nonprofit which utilizes adventure sports to engage at-risk students in long-term mentorship relationships. The SOS curriculum encourages responsibility, self-confidence, service, and leadership skills by instilling five core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, and compassion. Since 1993, we have inspired positive decision making for healthy and successful lives.

– Theresa Papandrea is the program director for SOS Outreach. To get involved or make a donation, call 775-298-0260 or email her at

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