Give Back Tahoe: Adventure Risk Challenge helps our underserved youth |

Give Back Tahoe: Adventure Risk Challenge helps our underserved youth

Roxana Cabrera
Courtesy photo |

Roxana Cabrera was a shy and nervous young woman in 2009 when she arrived for Adventure Risk Challenge’s (ARC) five-week summer course. As she left home, she remembers needing to “give (her parents) an enormous hug, which would last for 40 days.”

During the course, Roxana was challenged to become a leader who navigated her classmates through the Desolation Wilderness, spoke her mind, and looked out for the wellbeing of her ARC teammates.

At first, Roxana wrote that, “I doubted anyone would listen to me.” However, she came to realize that, even when she was struggling physically up a peak or a tough uphill climb, that “I could persevere … I could keep my group going by encouraging them.”

After the summer course, Roxana was a stronger leader and a more vocal presence. She also became more confident in her writing.

During her first ARC backpacking expedition, she wrote a powerful poem entitled “You say I can’t, I say I can.”

In the poem, she compared herself before ARC to a callow salmon that was “struggling against enormous rolling rapids,” but that wanted to become an “accomplished adult” who made her parents proud.

Roxana is now the confident and focused young woman that she had envisioned as an ARC student in her poem. Roxana is the first in her family to go to college.

This year she is graduating from UC Davis majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior with a minor in Chicano(a) Studies. Roxana says that ARC “brought out the person hidden inside me.”

ARC serves 100 students each year in Tahoe/Truckee with a mission to empower underserved youth through wilderness and literacy experiences.

In addition to its summer program, ARC offers weekend literacy and outdoor trips, mentoring, and college access help for its students. To learn more, visit

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