SOS Outreach at Great Outdoors America Week!
We’re definitely not in Vail anymore!
The past couple days have been crazy and full of new experiences. Both of us grew up in the mountains near Vail, Colorado, and neither of us had ever been to Washington, D.C. before.
On this trip, we met several senators, representatives and their staff to talk about why the outdoors is important to us. We got to meet other people from around the country who love the outdoors, including some injured veterans who said that outdoor sports were important in helping them heal physically and mentally from their injuries.
The other day we got to sit in the House gallery and watch representatives vote on something. It was fun to watch it all happening. It’s exciting to see these people on TV, and here you’re right next to them. It’s neat to see everything that runs the U.S. here in one spot. One of the highlights was meeting Sen. Mark Udall. It seems like he would be so serious, but he’s actually really funny.
We’ve been sharing a lot with people here about SOS Outreach and what we’ve learned through the program. SOS provides opportunities for kids to get outdoors and do sports like snowboarding and backpacking. The kids in the program have mentors called Sherpas, and they help us learn about core values and giving back to the community. Both of us have been in SOS for five years and are now junior mentors.
SOS has opened a lot of opportunities for us that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve learned about building character through the core values. We found out this week that kids are spending too little time outside. The average kid spends 4 to 7 minutes a day doing stuff outside, but more than 7 hours in front of a TV or computer. We were not as active outdoors before joining SOS, and the program really got us into snowboarding. We hope other kids can have the same experiences.
Paco Holguin, 17, and Karen Nolasco, 19, of Eagle County, Colorado, have been in Washington, D.C., this week with the Sierra Club, talking about the impact the outdoors has had on their lives with national lawmakers. Both have spent most of their teen years participating in outdoor sports through the youth nonprofit SOS Outreach. The following blog post is Paco and Karen’s joint report from the capitol.