As Paulina launched herself into the first morning of her 40 days of Adventure Risk Challenge, she exclaimed excitedly, “Let the adventures begin!” She had chosen to participate in ARC’s 2013 summer immersion course to improve the many areas she struggled with: writing, fear of heights, opening up to people, and having confidence in herself.
“One of the biggest challenges I wanted to achieve was to try new things in a whole new environment without all the comforts that I usually have when I’m home,” Paulina said. ARC provides a unique opportunity for participants to take a leap, to challenge themselves personally, socially, and academically in a completely unfamiliar outdoor environment.
Like others on her team, Paulina benefited greatly from the strength of a supportive group. Out on the open water in a kayak or 30 feet off the ground in the ropes course, she felt at once scared to death and encouraged, loved, and supported. No matter if she cried or failed, she said, “My teammates never left me behind; they never left me alone to challenge my fears. They were always there no matter the situation. They were like my family.”
The 24-hour solo was one of the hardest parts of the summer for Paulina, because she realized how much she missed being surrounded by that support. For Paulina that was a feeling of true friendship.
ARC also provided the encouragement Paulina needed to take the first step toward college. Hopeful about her unfolding future, Paulina is planning to attend Universidad de Leon in Leon, Mexico next year. “ARC was the step I needed to take, and opened many doors to me,” she said.
Stay Strong, Give It a Chance, and Try Hard
By Paulina Mosqueda Gonzalez
I am a waterfall
Furious water rushing through me
Rocky and immense, filled with life
Surrounded by flowers which bloom by day and night
I may not seem intimidated
But if you ever try crossing me
You will leave me with a trace
Making my water slowly diminish
Now let me tell you my story
Maybe you will see
People always cross and step on me
But many don’t know,
How much pain they leave
As a child there’s not much you can do
Like a trickle of water just starting to mature
I still learn from what’s right and what’s wrong
And always having to depend on mom and dad
I’ve always been told to help others
To not let anyone bring me down
To just hope for the best
Because everything will come
At its right time
“Your friends will always be there,” they told me
I lived for years trusting them
Thinking they were just like family
Until ONE DAY THEY FAILED ME
Adventure Risk Challenge prides itself on connecting academics to outdoor adventure, and we do it in a variety of ways. But what we don’t always talk about is the importance of creativity in our overall mission. Creativity in ARC can mean freely choosing your turns down a snowy mountain slope or thinking about the right imagery to capture your thoughts in a personal essay. We believe creativity is essential to personal growth and exploration in the outdoors. This past week, in both Tahoe and Yosemite, creativity was on display!
On March 1st in Yosemite, four ARC students—Dahlia, Brock, Kiauna, and Francisco—were given an ‘Honorable Mention Award: Sharing the Visitor Experience’ by the National Park Service in the Youth in Yosemite Short Video Contest. The students submitted a video called “Yosemite is Our Home,” which they planned, edited, and directed. The video interspersing clips of the ARC students describing their experiences in Yosemite with visitors’ descriptions of their feelings about the Park. At the awards ceremony, the video received more laughs than any other. It is evident from all the smiles and laughter throughout the movie that the students had a lot of fun throughout the filming process. Thank you, Dahlia, Brock, Kiauna, and Francisco, for all your creativity and hard work! To view the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYTd4ChRGHw.
On March 1st in Tahoe, eight high school students and four adult staff/volunteers headed to Northstar for a day of snowboarding and skiing. The conditions were great since we had just received a couple feet of “Sierra Soft” in the days before. Our instructors gave us a guided tour of the mountain, as the participants enjoyed the sunshine and fresh snow. As we wove our lines through the trees in the afternoon, we realized that athletic pursuits of any kind are essentially a creative act. You have to choose when to turn, where to go, when to check, and when to just let it rip. It this sort of free riding that has allowed a new generation of athletes, including our ARC students, to express themselves in a creative ways in the outdoors.