Tahoe youth uses Adventure Risk Challenge to change life | SierraSun.com

Tahoe youth uses Adventure Risk Challenge to change life

Special to the Sun

Brock Sanders made a change for the better with Adventure Risk Challenge.

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — "Am I really going to do this?" Brock Sanders asked himself. "Am I doing the right thing? What am I going to get out of this?"

Adventure Risk Challenge had offered Brock a spot in its leadership and literacy summer course, but he couldn't imagine spending 40 days away from home, hiking through the Yosemite wilderness and sleeping under the stars.

"My mind was set on 'no,'" he said.

The quiet of a Yosemite night seemed scary compared to the comforting laughter and screams of his 10 brothers, sisters and cousins.

A sophomore in high school, Brock wanted to escape his hometown of Dos Palos, Calif., but he also felt at home surrounded by familiar faces and friends.

Yosemite, he imagined, had dark nights and was full of menacing creatures.

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Brock had been struggling at school, often putting his head down in class and having difficulty completing his homework. He didn't think he could write, and his lack of confidence was clear in the scribbled handwritten essays that he turned in for English class.

He described himself academically as "not being good at anything."

After saying "no" to Yosemite for weeks, Brock finally allowed himself to be convinced by ARC instructors to attend the course.

He decided that the fun would outweigh the homesickness and that new summer adventures would be more exciting than his regular summer routine.

In Yosemite, he hiked over 70 miles through the National Park. He saw the Park's iconic landscapes, swam in alpine lakes, and rafted on the Merced River through Yosemite Valley.

In class, he began to see himself as a more responsible student. He said, "Before ARC, I never did my homework. I just threw the work in my binder and never looked at it again, but ARC taught me the importance of responsibility."

After ARC, Brock had a new-found confidence in his writing and academic ability. He wrote a moving poem entitled "I am Yosemite Creek" about the struggles he had in high school.

He described himself as being "surrounded by a whirlpool of equations, formulas, letters, and numbers / they keep circling me, tangling me up and won't let me go."

When he returned from Yosemite, the whirlpool had stopped. He would write freely outside of school for fun. His grades began to improve significantly. He joined multiple clubs, including FFA and a leadership group. He joined the swim team.

This year he wrote, "I am now excited to attend school … I am ready to take on future challenges!"

On his college application, Brock wrote, "If it was not for the ARC program, I would still be failing my classes, I wouldn't be in any clubs, and I wouldn't be on the right path to a successful future. I am so happy for what ARC has done for me."

This article was submitted to the Sun by Adventure Risk Challenge. Visit arcprogram.org to learn more.

I am Yosemite Creek

By Brock Sanders Jr.

I am Yosemite creek beginning

From two strong independent mountains

My parents

The parents that feed me when I’m hungry,

That care for me when I’m sick

They keep me as I’m growing

And release me when it is time

I’m going to be ready to start my journey,

A journey so far from home

But I can’t help but stop and think of my academic struggles,

The struggles that will be with me forever

No matter how hard I try to escape them

It feels like I am in a whirlpool surrounded by equations, formulas, letters and numbers they keep circling me, tangling me up and won’t let me go

I am Yosemite creek tying to reach my destination but I’m stopped by a rock

A rock that been stolen from my creek like I was stolen from my family

The family that stuck with me through tough times

It feels like a dam is placed right in between my family and me

We can’t see or hear each other most of the time

The fear is running through my mind

The fear of getting stolen from my family again getting stolen for no reason

The fear is telling me not to worry. But I’m not listening

It reminds me not to forget. But I’m always trying

But when I’m finally placed on the right side of the dam I continue my journey

I get up right away and start doing what’s right

But in the end I know where I belong and that is back where I started

Because I am Yosemite creek