The Challenge program includes 8 core components that build critical life skills. These skills are developed through experiential as well as classroom learning. The 8 core components, and the performance measures associated with each one are listed below:
Classroom studies at the Academy are designed to enhance the cadet`s education skills and instill a desire to continue self-improvement. Classes are given in five areas that are tested on the General Education Development (HiSET) test. These include: math, science, social studies, literature and the arts, and writing skills/essay. The Academy also uses The Adult Basic Education (TABE) test to evaluate educational performance and progress.
Life Coping Skills
Each cadet can begin to explore their value structure and come to a better understanding of the attitudes, needs and desires that motivate them as individuals, members of the Academy and as citizens. Included in this area are classes and workshops on: substance abuse, anger management, stress management, gender stereotyping, team building skills, conflict resolution, parenting, basic economics, personal finance, personal goals and career goals.
Cadets develop the basic skills necessary to conduct job searches as their position in the community changes. Goal planning is one of the many areas covered in this area. Cadets learn to complete a written resume, fill out employment applications and how to conduct themselves during an interview.
Health and Hygiene
It is important that each cadet understands the positive correlation between good health and hygiene habits and life-long mental, physical and emotional well-being. Tobacco cessation classes, substance abuse effects, proper nutrition, sexual responsibility, sexually transmitted infection prevention, and CPR-first aid are just a few of the topics covered in this area.
This component helps each cadet to develop a better understanding of the forces that work to make a community strong and supportive of its members, as well as the forces that work to disintegrate a community. Cultural awareness, violence prevention, promoting justice and the honor code are discussed in this area. The cadets also learn about citizenship, U.S. government, the election and voting process, and participate in a student government.
Service to the Community
In the Core Component of Service to the Community, cadets develop an understanding of the benefits and value gained through volunteering at community projects and agencies. Certificates and awards are given to cadets for their participation.
Each cadet gains the skills necessary to be a good follower, a valued member of society, and gains exposure to the traits of good leaders so they may be prepared to lead when the opportunity arrives. This component covers personal motivation, self-discipline, and effective leadership. Cadets can participate in Leadership Positions, Color Guard, Drill and Ceremonies, and Character Development as part of this curriculum.
Cadets participate in a program of physical fitness training, which encourages a lifelong commitment to physical, mental and emotional well-being. Cadets must show improvement during the 22-week residential program in addition to obtaining a general knowledge of fitness. Activities include, but are not limited to: military style PT, running and organized sports.