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Finding Belonging in the Mountains – Meet Isa

“I honestly didn’t really want to join SOS at first” reflects high school junior, Isa Escobar, “I wasn’t that interested in snowboarding and I think I was just nervous about trying something new… but when I finally signed up, it was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Growing up in Park City, Isa knew plenty about SOS Outreach. With 450 local youth engaged annually in the program, she had peers in SOS. Even her older sister was a part of the program. But despite that, Isa had no intention of joining. She had tried skiing a couple of times before and enjoyed it, but even the appeal of skiing wasn’t enough to convince her. 

It wasn’t until her freshman year of high school, that things changed. “I was going through a really tough time,” says Isa, “I stopped hanging out with my friend group at school and was just feeling really alone… not having anyone I could talk to or just be with was super hard.” 

It didn’t take long for Isa’s parents to notice. Shortly thereafter, Isa’s mom registered Isa for SOS. 

Winter soon started, SOS programs began, and Isa showed up for her first SOS ride day. “I was pretty nervous on the first day,” says Isa, “but as soon as I showed up and met my mentor and my group, we just clicked instantly… I’ve never had anything like that happen before.” 

After that first ride day, Isa’s life immediately changed for the better. “I hung out with my group at school that following Monday, and other SOS kids who weren’t in my group were saying hi to me in the halls. I no longer felt so lonely,” reflects Isa. 

Isa says she’s grateful to have been put with a group of girls who are still her closest friends to this day. Having a mentor has also been a huge positive in her life, “it feels like my mentor is just another friend in the group. We jam to Taylor Swift on the chairlift and we can talk about things like what ski jackets are cute,” says Isa, “at the same time though, my mentor will ask me things like how my test was last week and that really means a lot to me because I’m like ‘wow’ you actually listen and care about me. That just feels really good.” 

Isa (4th from left) at the Outdoor Retailer Trade show with other Career Development participants last month

Now with a supportive friend group and mentor, Isa recognizes how important it is to have belonging in her life, “things have been so much better since I joined SOS. Having people that I can talk to and really feel like I can tell anything is just really comforting,” she says, “…knowing that I belong feels good.” 

Isa now looks forward to ride days and has been exploring other opportunities to get more involved with SOS. This summer, she is participating in SOS’ Career Development Program- a 6-week program that pairs SOS teens with paid apprenticeships across the outdoor industry. And this upcoming winter, Isa will be a Junior Mentor – a step up in SOS’ mentoring program where teens assist an adult mentor in mentoring the next generation of SOS youth. 

“I’m really looking forward to being a Junior Mentor next year,” says Isa, “Since I’ve been in their shoes, this is a chance to help other kids who are just like me. I’m excited to help them find their community and help them feel like they belong.”