Hear it from the Youth: The Impact of the Sierra’s Natural Wonders

About a year ago at a community event, I had the privilege of hearing recent Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) participants reading aloud poetry and essays they had written toward the conclusion of their 40 day stint with the wilderness and literacy focused program. Many of us were in tears before the first student stepped down. Two things were apparent: the ARC program had a profound effect on the lives of the participants and the participants took with them a bold vision for how they would interact with the world moving forward.

COMM AP Blog ARC 2014 08How does introducing a child to the beauty of the natural world and exposing them to their own considerable potential embolden them to accomplish their goals and become engaged citizens? The real question should be, how could it not? Adventure Risk Challenge is a program that sets out to integrate literacy and wilderness programming and to empower underserved youth to make changes in their lives and communities. The effect of the program on individuals is transformative.

The following excerpt is from April Kuang’s (Yosemite camp 2013) transformational essay, “The cage around my heart was crashing, and the voice from my interior got louder and louder. I knew it! I always knew what my heart is chasing for! A warm sunshine lighted up my dark side, and the clouds seemed not that dense any more. Now it’s the time to face my interior and walk through my road.” 82% of ARC participants go on to attend a two or four year college. Valeria Cabrera, Truckee 2009, had this to say, “At ARC I have expressed myself and have told my family in ARC my struggles and my purpose in life. Through this, I learned the meaning of two words, independence and freedom.”

Graduates become a natural extension of the program, taking the feelings of accomplishment and self-worth and embedding them in their home lives. ARC participants have completed over 400 hours of community service. Daniel Ortiz, Truckee 2013, wrote, “Without fears I was able to accomplish more than I thought I could. But getting rid of your fears is never enough. I also had to be determined to keep on going and to challenge myself to be the best that I can be.” Many of the individuals note how thankful they feel for the love and support they have from their parents and express a new-found desire to work hard in school so that they can achieve their goals. Brock Sanders, 2013 Yosemite, wrote,
“I am Yosemite creek beginning, 
From two strong independent mountains,
My parents. “

Sierra Business Council will feature ARC speakers at our upcoming 20th Anniversary Conference, “Peak Innovation: The Next 20 Years”, happening October 8th-10th at Granlibakken in Tahoe City. ARC graduates will precede esteemed writer Terry Tempest Williams on Wednesday evening, October 8th,, sharing with attendees their own writings on what the Sierra Nevada means to them. Sabin Thapa, Yosemite 2013, wrote the following in his transformational essay, “Each and every event, memory, and moment in our life is a phrase and in the end of our life all the memories of events and moments come together and become one beautiful quote that you have never heard, and that beautifully describes your life.”

Join us in October for an abundance of inspiration from speakers and organizations such as those with Adventure Risk Challenge.