Youth camp receives $65K grant |

Youth camp receives $65K grant

Courtesy photoStudents Jaime Alvarez, right, Jessie Wang, Liliana Mondragon, Victor Cisneros, Stefany Mendoza, and Raul Felix backpack in Desolation Wilderness. The Adventure, Risk and Challenge Program at UC Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station offers an intensive literary and leadership program for English language learners.

The Adventure, Risk and Challenge Program at UC Berkeleys Sagehen Creek Field Station teaches teenagers more than just reading and writing they learn valuable lessons about life. The ARC program was founded three years ago in Truckee-Tahoe by Katie Zanto, ARC director, to reach at-risk high school students whose first language is Spanish through a six-week summer camp designed to teach academic and leadership skills. The ARC program was recently awarded a $65,000 grant to be used to expand the leadership program to UC Santa Barbaras Sedgwick Reserve in order to provide more learning opportunities for teens.Zanto said she wanted to create a program that would have meaning and provide a life-changing experience for children.I wanted to start putting leaders back into our community, Zanto said.The Sagehen station and the Sedgwick Reserve are included as part of the 35 reserves in the University of California Natural Reserve System. The reserves are dedicated to scientific research and education as well as bring students and scientists together to learn about the natural environment. Through outdoor activities such as backpacking in Desolation Wilderness, rock climbing, kayaking on Lake Tahoe and river rafting, the students are challenged with a vigorous curriculum in the time they spend in the Sierra Nevada.Some students really come because they want adventure, Zanto said. All of them grow academically and they all grow as people.Zanto said she has been busy this summer since the current ARC session started on June 26 and ends on Aug. 5 with a graduation ceremony for students. Many students from the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District are selected to participate, with many traveling to Sagehen from out of town after hearing about the positive experiences other students have had. Bringing diversity was making an even bigger impact, Zanto said. The Sagehen ARC program wasnt able to receive the grant funding from Pacific Forest and the Watershed Lands Stewardship Council because the reserve isnt included in Pacific Gas & Electrics service area, she said.Zanto said the local program relies on donations to supply the necessary funding to keep the camp running. Having the ARC program in place in Southern California gives the opportunity for Truckee students to travel to a different area and experience being near the ocean, she said.Sedgwick Reserve is located 35 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. Mike Williams, Sedgwick reserve director, said he is happy to add the ARC program into the curriculum at the reserve. He said the reserve currently offers a program for sixth grade students, but a program was needed to carry those students into high school.Suddenly they have more goals … and dreams to reach, Williams said. ARC is the next step.Williams said the reserve has about 100 volunteers to help facilitate the new program. He said reserve officials will be meeting with Zanto this summer to look over the logistics of the ARC program.

On Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Sagehen Creek Field Station ARC students will participate in a public reading. They will be sharing selections of their writing and poetry theyve written at camp.

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