One thing that we have all learned to appreciate is Water! The reason for this is because during our first expedition we hiked for eight days straight. Sometimes water wouldn’t be available so when we did find water we would all be so excited. Hiking under the sun for long periods of time made us realize that water was essential for survival. Even though this was a difficult expedition due to the overwhelming heat and long hikes plus the water scarcity. We did it because, we believe in each other and feel like adventure lives in all of us.“Those who possess the spirit of adventure know the difference between doing a thing themselves and just watching other people do it” (Anonymous).
During the first expedition, I learned that it’s important to give a hand. For example, I was trying to climb over a huge log; my friend saw me struggling because I had a 100lbs backpack on my back and we had been hiking for hours. So he stretched out his hand towards me and asked, “Do you need help?” I knew he had been struggling too, but he still gave me a hand and helped me climb over the log and overcome the challenge. That moment I learned that teamwork is essential to becoming a family. Not only did I learn a huge lesson about teamwork, but I also learned about myself and what I am capable of. My favorite part of the first expedition was when we hiked to the top of Eagle Peak. Getting to the top was challenging, but when we arrived at the summit, the view was really, really, really beautiful and I felt like I was on top of the world. Like I could accomplish everything I set my mind to. I am strong. I will never again doubt myself.
Yesterday the ARC students in Yosemite rafted down the Merced River with Half Dome and El Capitan in the background. There were splash wars, smiles, and a lot of laughter. The students also stopped along the way to test the water quality of the Merced. They conducted tests for PH level, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, nitrates, and more. It was truly a wild and scenic river—with clear water reflecting the beautiful iconic granite rock formations in the distance.
Bingbing Liang said that the rafting trip was a part of her desire to overcome fears this summer. “I want to try new things. I want to not be scared anymore.” Based on her smile at the end of the day, she succeeded!
Maria Sanchez began the ARC Summer Course in Tahoe with little confidence in her ability to complete what she started. Yet, as one of the most engaged and enthusiastic ARC alumni over the past two years, she has proven that pushing through is a benefit to herself and an example to others.
Joining ARC after an overwhelmingly stressful freshman year in high school, Maria faced her greatest fears—heights, public speaking, and trusting others—and discovered her ability as a leader.
The ARC Summer Course provides many opportunities to learn to be a leader: Leader of the Day helps the group stay on task, Aqua Bear keeps the group hydrated, House Mouse cleans up, Iron Chef prepares meals, the Great Eye ensures the group doesn’t get lost, and the Journalist points out the group’s accomplishments. A focus of ARC is to share the load with others, helping youth like Maria feel safer and more confident.
On her 16th birthday, as Leader of the Day, Maria said, “I felt lost and hopeless like a bird trapped in a cage unable to spread its wings.” The next day, benefitting from group feedback, she said, “I learned that I can take on leadership, even though I am really shy and don’t always speak up.”
Maria feels the ARC community is a good model. “They showed me they are here for me for support and good advice…I asked them for help when I was having a hard time. I wanted to leave the course because I felt that I couldn’t make it to the end. They said that they would do everything they can to help me finish the course, and I did.”
Maria is a young woman with a lot on her shoulders. She is now working six days a week in internships and service projects to help her family and community in any way possible. She has most recently been involved with the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe and Jason’s Beachside Grille in King’s Beach, gaining valuable cooking, teaching, and customer service skills.
Over the past two years since completing the course, Maria has continued to show leadership among her peers on trips to Yosemite waterfalls, the rugged Coast of Big Sur and the summit of the Sierra Buttes.
Maria will graduate from North Tahoe High School this June. Her patience, self-love, compassion and sense of optimism have continued to grow, as have the possibilities for her wonderful future. She has recently turned her attention to a possible career in nursing.
Please continue reading Maria’s poem, My Life is Like a Fish Traveling Through Water. Read More