Local guides Tahoe youth through adventures, risks and challenges | SierraSun.com

Local guides Tahoe youth through adventures, risks and challenges

Eve Giovenco
Special to the Sun
From left, Mel Hoffman, Yami Gutierrez, Sean McAlindin, Anna Greenberg and Salvador Meza Lemus share a moment in this image.
Courtesy ARC |

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Whenever Sean McAlindin has a tough day or is struggling to find an answer to one of life’s many problems, he spends the day in the woods, on a hike, camping or rock climbing.

Working with Adventure Risk Challenge has been a perfect fit for Sean.

ARC, a youth development nonprofit that integrates literacy and leadership training, is based in the outdoors. As Program Coordinator, Sean has the privilege of guiding and teaching youth while showing them how to feed their sense of adventure and exploration.

He shows them how the wilderness can help release the stresses of everyday life. And he enjoys every minute of it.

Based on his commitment to serve the whole community of Tahoe-Truckee, Sean received the Community Collaborative Public Service Award of Excellence last year.

His success comes from thinking about and interacting with youth as unique individuals, each with different assets, strengths, needs and barriers. Sean puts his whole heart and mind into these relationships and has had a deep impact on many young people.

“Ever since I can remember, Sean has found peace and comfort in the woods,” Sean’s brother, Conor, says.

He reminisces about their childhood, living on the edge of the land trust in Northwestern Connecticut, where their backyard opened onto miles of unpopulated forest.

“Sean and his friends would spend their days building forts and refuges in those woods,” Conor says. “It was a great place to learn and grow as an explorer, always looking for new trails, traces of new deer or bears, new rocks to climb or vines to swing on. It was always a new adventure in the woods, and Sean lived it every day.”

As Sean got older, he found a love for teaching and helping youth reach their potential. Sean spent several years in public school systems around the country, but discovered that the confines of a city classroom limited his capacity to truly make a difference.

Will Fassett, ARC’s Program Director, says, “Sean has an incredible ability to push and challenge students to be their best. When he feels a young person is not putting their whole effort forward, when many adults (or parents even) might throw their hands up, Sean will get to the heart of that young person’s challenges and barriers.”

Kim Bradley, TTUSD Wellness Coordinator, said, “I was one of many partners who nominated Sean as a stand out collaborative partner, who truly puts the needs of students first.”

Bradley referred to one particular situation, when Sean was working with a student who was experiencing mental health challenges.

“Sean assembled a team of partners from county, school wellness centers, school counselor and psychologist offices to make sure this student received support and follow up,” Bradley stated. “His level of professionalism and integrity he showed when referring students to school mental health support services last school year impressed me. I feel very appreciative to be working with Sean.”

Sarah Cupery Ottley, ARC’s Executive Director, also speaks highly of Sean.

“To best accomplish ARC’s mission, Sean manages physical and emotional risk well and ensures the safety of every participant,” she said. “He invests in dozens of relationships community-wide, in order to create and sustain the best possible safety net for each young person ARC serves. He has made a strong effort to strengthen relationships at the schools and throughout the community so students have access to all available support services.”

Ottley continues her impressions. “Sean’s personal pursuits are inspiring to me, and I know to ARC youth as well. His love of adventure and music, and the ways that he pursues those passions, both outside of ARC and integrated into ARC, are a wonderful example of how to craft a rich and fulfilling life. Sean has challenged my way of thinking and encouraged me to be a better leader. I have learned much from him and look forward to working with Sean, hopefully for many more years!”

To thank Sean for his contribution to the community, or to get involved with Adventure Risk Challenge in any capacity, visit http://www.adventureriskchallenge.org, or email info@adventureriskchallenge.org.