Best Youth Mountain Outreach - 2002
Snowboard Outreach Society
Back in 1994, Ray Sforzo, Director of Snowboarding for Vail Resorts, and Arn Menconi, a self-proclaimed "Humble Snowboard Revolutionary," started SOS, or Snowboard Outreach Society. Their mission, at first, was to serve and inspire at-risk youth. Now, as Menconi says, "More and more we find that the people who are truly at risk are those who do not serve others." Because of this philosophy, the SOS has tried to pull in as many adult volunteers as possible, resulting in a youth-to-adult ratio of 2:1 in 2001. The number of volunteers and participants increases every year, from just forty snowboarders in the 1994-95 season to 695 youths during the 2000-01 season. The kids participate in a five-day program called LTR -- Learn to Ride. The program's founders are convinced snowboarding's "cool appeal" and quick learning curve help kids develop self-confidence, which they can carry off the mountain and into the classroom and their daily lives. Even better news is that this program has outgrown Colorado and can now be found in other states, too. It has also outgrown its season -- hosting two summer kayak programs in 2001. Way to chill, dudes.