For more than a decade, we’ve been partnering with SOS Outreach—a national nonprofit that empowers under-represented youth to discover their full potential through outdoor exploration, positive adult mentorship, leadership skill development and community service. We strongly support their efforts to change more than 4,000 young lives each year through the power of the outdoors. Rob Peterson from our Big Agnes team, sat down with SOS to share why we believe their work is more important than ever.
SOS Outreach: No matter what social, societal or economic barriers exist—SOS Outreach believes every child deserves the opportunity to thrive. We start with powerful outdoor experiences. Because it’s on the slopes or the trail that kids unearth the courage to step outside of their comfort zones, discover new strengths within themselves and develop lifelong skills. Why does the SOS mission matter to Big Agnes?
Big Agnes: The SOS mission matters to us because one of our main goals is to get people outside, no matter who you are in this world. Recreation is a pivotal part of mental health and camping in the outdoors is a part of that as well. Big Agnes is headquartered in the small community of Steamboat Springs, CO in the heart of the Rockies and we’ve witnessed firsthand that getting youth into the outdoors at a young age has led them to become forever outdoor enthusiasts. When you care about getting outside, you care about these beautiful places, and you care more about protecting them. It’s a win-win.
SOS Outreach: Over the years, Big Agnes has equipped our kids for our summer adventures, generously donating product like tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads for under-resourced youth to experience what it’s like to sleep under the stars. Why is this important?
Big Agnes: Not every family has the means to get all the gear they need and we realize that, so we want to help in any way possible to make things easier, having the right equipment should be the least of their worries. Kids are reassured with our gear and the easy setup, even by themselves. Then they can concentrate on the real task—having fun.
SOS Outreach: Why advocate for a more inclusive and equitable outdoors?
Big Agnes: It’s a no-brainer and reflects our bigger picture goal, getting everyone in the outdoors to enjoy what it has to offer. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, or where you come from, everyone should have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the trails, the slopes, the mountains, and the fresh air.
SOS Outreach: What role can the outdoor industry play in creating a more diverse and vibrant outdoor community?
Big Agnes: It starts with sharing the stories of those already in the outdoor community and the joy it brings them – that inspires others to want to get out there and experience that same wonder. Another great opportunity that we advocate, is that some of the greatest adventures can be in your own backyard. It can be tough for kids to step out of their comfort zones, that is why SOS Outreach is so important. The program helps facilitate those first steps in the outdoors for kids from all diverse backgrounds.
SOS Outreach: We’ve hosted some of the Big Agnes team at our on-mountain program days in Steamboat Springs, CO. How has the team been inspired by the opportunity to spend a day on the slopes and connect directly with our kids?
Big Agnes: As soon as that team was back in the office, they came by to express how thankful they were for the opportunity. They couldn’t wait to share the experience with the rest of the office. It felt so rewarding to be a part of the journey and see the stoke on these kid’s faces, just from being outside, having a blast, and learning new skills.
SOS Outreach: From the moment our kids step outside with us, they are introduced to positive and consistent adult mentorship. Our mentors provide a strong support system that inspires kids to dream big—cheering them on as they carve a turn, offering a helping hand when the terrain gets steep, and lending an ear when they’re having a rough day. Is there someone that helped mentor and guide you to where you are today?
Big Agnes: My parents raised me and shaped my life more than they know. I was taught from day one, everyone should be treated with kindness, even if they look different from me, and that a simple thank you goes a long way – I still say thank you for everything to this day. One thing that I remember most was learning to take responsibility for my actions and that I am in charge of what outcome I accomplish each day. That guidance was so invaluable, I know that the mentorships through SOS will resonate with these kids for the rest of their lives.
SOS Outreach: What made you fall in love with the outdoors?
Big Agnes: I was pretty fortunate to grow up at the beach, so I discovered my love for the outdoors at an early age. Growing up, I realized that there was so much more to explore. That’s why Steamboat is such a special place, we get to be in the outdoors every day recreating, and those activities change throughout the seasons.
SOS Outreach: We believe that great leaders possess strong values. That’s why we center our curriculum around six core values—compassion, humility, discipline, wisdom, courage and integrity—to help our kids live healthy, happy and successful lives. What values are woven into the fabric of Big Agnes?
Big Agnes: Our values stem from these same themes. We believe that the outdoors are for everyone, and we strive to help folks gain access. We do this by continually innovating our gear to be the lightest, strongest and the best available. We’re working to incorporate more sustainable materials from our apparel to our gear, growing our partnerships and relationships with diverse groups and communities, and by sharing more diverse experiences that inspire everyone get outside.
Learn more about SOS Outreach and how you can make an impact.