Coming soon….A Mountain Field Campus for Local Youth

High 5 Grant brings SOLE one step closer to providing an enclosed and permanent location from which to educate and empower underserved rural youth through the transformational experiential and outdoor education programs it provides.

June 24th, 2019 — Underserved rural youth in Bonner County and beyond will soon have a Mountain Field Campus where they will be able to explore and learn about their winter wildlands and the greater Lake Pend Oreille Watershed.  Leading the charge is Sandpoint-based, Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education (SOLE). SOLE’s effort has been generously supported by various local and regional partners, including the recent addition of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and the City of Sandpoint with a  grant award of $28, 413.64. Through support from the High Five Community Transformation Grant, SOLE is one step closer to completing a major $70,000 fundraising campaign to establish a Mountain Field Campus at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. This will serve as a hub to educate and empower our underserved local area youth through outdoor physical activity.  

A SnowSchool Experience program student studies snow science to include completing a snow pit profile and studying crystallography.

“It is our vision that this community multi-use facility will serve as an outdoor learning center to educate and empower our underserved local area youth through purposeful place-based experiential and outdoor education programs which utilize mountain-based outdoor recreation as the mode of travel.” ~ Dennison Webb, MA | Founder & Executive Director 

In addition to the previously mentioned partners, SOLE has garnered support from local business, agencies, and corporations to ensure that our local area youth have affordable access to the intentional experiential education programs that SOLE offers.  These partners have included, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Bonner General Health, Kochava, Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, The William Wishnick Foundation, Panhandle Alliance for Education, Innovia Foundation, Equinox Foundation, and Lake Pend Oreille School District, along with the contributions of many generous personal donors. With continued support, SOLE’s will not only reach their fundraising goal, but they will also be able to actualize their vision of providing affordable and accessible experiential education programming for underserved local youth throughout the year.  You can get involved and learn more about this community effort by contacting SOLE at info@soleexperiences.org | 928.351.7653 or by making a tax-deductible donation to SOLE’s Mountain Field Campus Campaign here.

Students snowshoe with their Field Instructor Team to into their winter wildlands.

Since 2010, SOLE has been focused on providing intentional and transformational experiential education programs for youth in the Sandpoint community, and beyond. SOLE’s programs have reached well-over 3,000 underserved rural youth, most notably through SOLE’s signature program – SnowSchool Experiences.  In partnership with the Boise-based nonprofit, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program provides novel, on the snow, hands-on outdoor experiences, where students are able to explore and learn in their winter wildlands through lessons related to snow science, winter ecology, conservational literacy, avalanche awareness, and outdoor living and travel skills.   While there are 66 SnowSchool sites nationwide, SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program at Schweitzer was recognized as a National Flagship SnowSchool Site in 2017, becoming only the second site to receive this designation. In addition to this prestigious recognition, SOLE  earned regional accolades in 2017, when it’s SnowSchool Experience program received an Innovation Award from the Idaho Nonprofit Center for its innovative approach to education, specifically its novel E-STEM place-based experiential education curriculum.  

SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program receives the 2017 Innovation Award from the Idaho Nonprofit Center. Shown here is SOLE’s Executive Director (Dennison Webb, MA, Center Left); SOLE’s Education Advisor and Board Member (Joy Jansen, PhD, Center Right), and partners PAFE Board Member (Geraldine Lewis, Left) and Innovia Foundation staff member (Molly Sanchez, Right)

Learn more about SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program by watching the video below and going to SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program webpage here.

SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program which was highlighted in the 2017-2018 Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival. This was the first time a SnowSchool program was highlighted in the world-renowned film festival which makes over 100 stops world-wide.

Initially, The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health awarded a Community Transformation Grant to the City of Sandpoint to fund projects that encourage healthy eating and physical activity for children.  The $250,000 grant was awarded from High Five, the Foundation’s childhood obesity initiative. The allocation of the grant funds was determined by the Bonner County Coalition for Health, which partnered with the Foundation to identify projects that supported either increased physical activity and access to healthy, affordable foods.  SOLE is extremely grateful to have been selected as one of the recipients of the High Five Grant. 

Stay tuned for SOLE’s progress in establishing the Mountain Field Campus at Schweitzer Mountain and news regarding how the local youth are utilizing and benefiting from it.

SOLE COVID-19 Response

Our goal at SOLE is to help address any health-related community need.  As such, we are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to update SOLE’s COVID-19 response here. If you have any additional questions after reading our response below please contact info@soleexperiences.org.


From the Desk of SOLE’s Executive Director | Last Updated June 1st, 2020

I hope this message finds you and yours doing well, and staying safe in these unusual times.

As we learned more from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Panhandle Health District (PHD) over the course of the past months we have continued to take thoughtful and proactive measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 at SOLE, and beyond.  Some of this occurred well before the mandatory “Stay at Home” guidelines were issued by Governor Little in Idaho. 

As we move towards summer our Board of Directors is continuing to monitor the situation closely to inform our stakeholders, including but not limited too, event attendees, program participants, schools, parents, volunteers and employees to keep you all as up to date as possible on SOLE-related policies and procedures as it relates to COVID-19.

By now, I am sure you are aware, there are currently no vaccines available to prevent COVID-19 infections. Additionally, there are limited testing resources nationally, and in Idaho, for COVID-19.  Early on individuals that meet specific criteria established by the CDC and Idaho State Lab were only being tested, and even today testing seems inconsistent.

Tests are currently being limited to individuals who:

  • Have a fever of 100.4 or greater
  • Have symptoms of lower respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • Have traveled to an affected area within the prior 14 days OR had close contact with a Lab-confirmed COVID-19 patient within the prior 14 days.

This criteria may be updated as we learn more about COVID-19 and its spread, and as more testing sources become available. 

If you are in north Idaho, Panhandle Health District (PHD) has activated a call center to help answer questions related to the virus.  The number is 1-877-415-5225.

The call center is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Once we do restart operations, if you are showing any cold-related or flu-like symptoms, please stay home and do not attend your SOLE program or event. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

At all SOLE Experiences & events we  will continue to recommend that volunteers, staff, participants & attendees:

  • Continue to consider guidelines set by the the State of Idaho when conducting SOLE-related business
  • Wash their hands often with soap and water (at least 20 seconds) 
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer – in between times
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces before and after programs and events
  • Cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Adhere to SOLE’s urban and backcountry hygiene-related policies and procedures.

Regarding possible COVID-19 exposure at SOLE

The reality is that like any other communicable disease organizations like SOLE cannot be expected to completely reduce the risk of transmission.  SOLE, and our counterparts are, and should be expected to adhere to evidence-based practices that mitigate any risk associated with events, programs and services. 

As such, SOLE’s board and administration will also take into consideration the following policy and procedures.

  • Parents, teachers, and other clients are expected to notify SOLE immediately if participants are sick with flu-like symptoms, and not let their child(ren)/student(s)/stakeholder(s) attend their SOLE Experience.
  • Employees, volunteers, and/or participants and their families, who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 are expected to notify SOLE administration and refer to CDC guidance on how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure. 
  • If an employee, volunteer, and/or participant and/or their family is confirmed to have COVID-19, SOLE administration will inform the appropriate parties of their possible exposure but maintain confidentiality.
  • If an employee, volunteer, and/or participant and/or their family are exposed to someone at a SOLE Experience or event confirmed with COVID-19, they should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

It is important to note: This is a fluid situation.  SOLE’s board and administrators will continue to monitor updates from the CDC and Panhandle Health and will continue to make decisions based on best practices recommended by the CDC. 

In addition, while SOLE’s board, volunteers, and staff while continue to utilize best practices and methods when facilitating SOLE programs to mitigate all risks, “Acts of God” and environmental threats are dynamic in nature and therefore it is to be expected that your child(ren), student(s), and stakeholder(s) potentially can be exposed to various inherent environmental hazards and risks associated with experiential education programs which occur in an outdoor setting.

As we continue this journey, please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Dennison Webb, MA

Founder & Executive Director