Adventure Risk Challenge youths celebrate, program announces fall offerings | SierraSun.com

Adventure Risk Challenge youths celebrate, program announces fall offerings

Special to the Sun
Adventure Risk Challenge participants show off their creativity, skill and zest after reading insightful and personal poems to 60 supporters at Cedar House Sport Hotel. Top: Minnie. Middle: Gerardo, Brandon, Emily, Jaira. Ground: Oscar, Zach, Jose, Aldona, Angela.
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TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Adventure Risk Challengeand#8217;s summer 2011 class received a standing ovation at the public poetry reading hosted by ARC and Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundations at Cedar House Sport Hotel Aug. 2.

The youths spoke of challenges, family members, dreams and goals. One particularly poignant reading from a young woman included the words, and#8220;I am keeping the constellations together,and#8221; and another shared, and#8220;I am a topographical map who is not yet complete.and#8221; Others teens connected to different elements and animals in the natural world. For instance one teen confidently declared, and#8220;I am a soaring mighty cloudand#8221; and another compared herself to a bee busily working everyday. Another, reflecting on the 30-mile hike she completed, said, and#8220;I can push myself and#8230; I feel accomplished.and#8221; One teen spoke of heading in a different direction than his alcoholic father and making his mother proud. One spoke of overcoming the obstacles of trying to make friends in a foreign culture. All shared personal, moving stories and evoked passion for their future.

The audience shared in a different way, connecting with the youth by also exploring their personal identities. Attendees wrote name tags including characteristics describing their strengths and quirks such as curious, adventurous, honest, funny.

ARC Director Jen Gurecki welcomed the group, and#8220;You care deeply about the place we call home and about the young people in front of you,and#8221; and later, over wine and hors dand#8217;oeuvres, diverse community members contributed to the sustainability of ARC through generous donations to meet a $2,500 challenge grant. Attendees confirmed their commitment by raising more than $8,000.

The programand#8217;s mission is straightforward: ARC seeks to improve literacy and life skills, expose youth to wilderness experiences and inspire the confidence to envision and accomplish goals, succeed in high school and become engaged, empowered citizens. The program succeeds by linking wilderness to academics, adventure to leadership, identity to literacy and confidence to activism. And, the results are staggering. Summer course alumni boast a 92-percent passing rate on the Language Arts section of the California High School Exit Exam (compared to 42 percent passing rate across the state for English Language Learner students and 72 percent for socio-economically disadvantaged students). ARC also has a 77-percent college enrollment rate compared to 36 percent nationwide for Latinos and 46 percent for Anglos.

Adventure Risk Challenge offers more than the summer 40-day immersion program. Literacy training and outdoor leadership skills that have proven successful in preparing students for college are offered at low cost and for free throughout the school year. Services include after school tutoring and writing workshops aligned with California State University Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum, college tours, SAT prep and assistance with college applications and financial aid as well as fun weekend retreats integrating hiking, snow sports and rock climbing with writing workshops. ARC staff, volunteers and youth also participate in year round community service projects.

and#8220;Our program is targeted to high school youth in need of leadership and academic skills. We facilitate activities that support healthy lifestyles, leadership development, and academic success,and#8221; explains Gurecki who has led and supported the program since 2006.

All ARC participants have higher levels of community engagement and exposure to outdoors and leadership opportunities, which are protective factors for avoiding high-risk behaviors (think drug and alcohol use and teen pregnancy). Contact Jen Gurecki at jgurecki@berkley.edu or 530-416-5682 to learn more about connecting youth with ARC.

and#8212; Submitted by NC Communications, nicole@nicolecheslock.com