By WILL FASSETT/ARC  |  Moonshine Ink

This summer, 10 high school students are undertaking a journey of epic proportions in Truckee.  There are no cell phones; there is no internet; and they will be away from home for more than five weeks. They are participating in Adventure Risk Challenge’s 40-day outdoor literacy and leadership immersion course — backpacking through Desolation Wilderness, visiting a ropes course, learning to rock climb, going whitewater rafting on the American River, and more.

This year Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) celebrates 15 years of supporting under-engaged youth in Truckee/Tahoe to build deep and meaningful connections between young people and the outdoors.


This summer’s literacy and leadership students will share stories of their journeys in poetry readings at an annual event, Voices of Youth, at Truckee’s Cedar House Sport Hotel conference room. The event marks day 36 of their adventures, and their stories will reveal the depth of adversity and transformation they’ve met.

The literacy and leadership immersion course combines creative, reflective writing with outdoor adventure. It is designed to push students outside their comfort zones and build their self-confidence and leadership skills. “I have grown a lot compared to the person I used to be,” wrote Truckee High School student Daisy Sanchez after her participation in last year’s program. “I have grown to be more confident, responsible and mature.”

During their Adventure Risk Challenge wilderness expeditions, the students craft a metaphorical poem that compares something in their surroundings to their own story. They poems share their struggles, challenges, hopes, and dreams. Sanchez poem Frog Morph, which she read to the Voices of Youth audience last year, described how her hearing impairment has shaped her. “People don’t have to feel like their differences are disabilities, but rather a gift,” she wrote. The poem explained how, during the summer course, she started to see a brighter future for herself. She punctuated the poetry with her dreams of going to college and one day owning her own business.

After the Adventure Risk Challenge experiences, students like Sanchez are mentored by ARC staff members and volunteers to return as peer leaders in the program’s weekend experiences. Nguyen Truong, another 2017 student, echoed Sanchez’s words, writing, “Honestly, this summer is an unforgettable moment in my life. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from the outdoors … I will put all of the things I learned from these 40 days into the backpack of my life and carry them with me.”

Voices of Youth is a primary fundraiser for ARC’s program operations. All donations online and at the event will be matched. ARC partners with the University of California Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station to make the summer experience possible. Without the field station’s generous support and hospitality, this opportunity would not be possible for California youth.

Info: Tickets by RSVP only; RSVP by July 26 at; event July 31, 5:30 p.m.


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