Adventure Risk Challenge

Under the auspices of UC Berkeley, Adventure Risk Challenge or ARC is an intensive leadership and literacy program for high school youth, bolstering their skills in literacy, leadership, and life.

Their popular summer and year round programs expose youth to a range of natural environments and wilderness experiences, and inspire the confidence they need to envision and accomplish goals, succeed in high school, and become engaged, empowered citizens.

Programs integrate rigorous academic instruction (critical thinking, writing, reading, research, and public speaking) with challenging leadership and life-skills training (goal setting, teamwork, resilience, and personal responsibility), resulting in life-changing experiences. ARC links wilderness to academics, adventure to leadership, identity to literacy, and confidence to activism.

ARC currently offers two programs, serving Northern and Central California, at the Sagehen Creek Field Station in the Tahoe/Truckee area and in Yosemite National Park at the Yosemite Field Station.

All of the highly motivated students participate in the program on full or partial scholarships thanks to generous donations.

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How to Participate

Summer Literacy & Leadership Course

The ARC summer program is tailored for the needs of today’s youth, consisting of outdoor expeditions interspersed with intensive English academics at the UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station and the UC Merced Yosemite Field Station.

ARC’s unique integration of academics and outdoor education includes an English Language Arts curriculum aligned with California State Standards and the California State University Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum. Teens focus on reading, building vocabulary, improving grammar, writing projects, critical thinking, and public speaking. The Environmental Science curriculum is organized around place-based education standards, introducing students to the natural world around them and to environmental conservation concepts. Through dynamic programming, students learn about their role in stewardship and conservation, raise their overall academic success, develop positive social and cooperative skills, and prepare for civic engagement.

In this program, youth participate in:

• A daily English curriculum, incorporating journaling, grammar lessons, group reading, and vocabulary building,

• Community interviews and cross-age teaching experiences,

• The writing of a metaphorical poem, a narrative biography, and a transformational essay,

• A public speaking event of self-reflective essays and poetry,

• Three backpacking expeditions, including a final youth-led expedition and a solo overnight wilderness experience,

• Kayaking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and ropes course activities, and

• Daily leadership activities integrating our social justice curriculum with our four core values of service, integrity, compassion and determination.

Academic Year Program

The ARC academic year program is targeted to all high school youth in need of leadership and academic skills. ARC provides a variety of activities that support healthy lifestyles, leadership development, and academic success during the school year:

• After school tutoring and writing workshops based on the California State University Expository Reading & Writing Curriculum

• College preparation, including college tours, SAT prep, and assistance with college applications and financial aid,

• Weekend wilderness retreats integrating challenging outdoor activities with leadership lessons and writing workshops,

• Community service projects and service of the land projects.

ARC partners with high school administrators, teachers, and counselors, as well as non-profit partners, to reach more youth and their families and expands the ability to make change on a community level.

Programs change with the season. For an updated list of writing workshops and tutoring, weekend retreats and the popular 40-Day Course, please visit

Appropriate Ages

High School Youth

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