Outdoor education program seeks to motivate

Matt Tredway's weekend schedules don't include playing video games or watching television. The Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher wishes the same could be said for more of his students.

"It's surprising the kids who don't do anything," Tredway said. "That's something we could change."

Enter Everything Outdoors Steamboat, or EOS, an outdoor education and recreation program coordinated by Tredway for middle school students.

From kayaking to ice climbing to backpacking, Tredway thinks providing outdoor recreation opportunities to all students can inspire lifelong passions and improve physical and mental health.

EOS also could fill the sporting and recreational gap for students who don't like or don't excel in traditional team sports, Tredway said.

"We want to get these kids passionate about something outdoors and sporting wise," Tredway said. "There's something for every kid out there."

Intertwining outdoor recreation and education into the school's curriculum is anything but new at the middle school, where teachers have initiated or collaborated with numerous programs in the past 17 years, including the Yampa Valley Science School -- a partnership between Routt County schools and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, and annual trips to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

Teachers such as Tredway also have led occasional backpacking trips and other recreational activities for students, but a lack of consistent funding and the absence of an organized program prevented those activities from annual scheduling.

Through grants and pro deals from major outdoor equipment manufacturers, Tredway and other volunteers working on the EOS program hope to establish a comprehensive program with regularly scheduled activities and trips at little or no cost to students. The activities will include equipment, transportation and food.

Tredway estimates the program will need $18,000 annually to operate. Activities will include kayaking, rock and ice climbing, Nordic and Alpine skiing, snowshoeing, backpacking, mountaineering and fly fishing. A major source of funding for the program is the middle school's annual tree sale, which generates about $7,000 each year.

Several middle school teachers, including Ben Barbier and Jeff Keller, and other adults passionate about the outdoors will lead the activities, Tredway said.

"I totally believe passionate kids lead to passionate adults," he said. "I would love to see these kids find it at an earlier age."

School Board members heard a presentation on EOS at a meeting last month, and Tredway said he was encouraged by their feedback. Ultimately he'd like the full support of the district, including use of transportation, facilities and substitute teacher days while regular teachers are leading EOS programs.

For more information on the EOS program visit www.eosteamboat.org.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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