myca'S Covid-19 updates

myca'S OUTLINE OF operational PROCEDURES

Below is an outline of the Academy’s plan to protect students, staff, and the local community. This plan has been formulated with current guidance, and with consideration of our unique circumstance as a residential academic intervention program located on a college campus.

Please note that our plan may be modified due to changes in the operational environment, or directives from state or local public health officials, in reference to the COVID-19. Any modifications to this plan will include input and approval from UMW, Beaverhead County Public Health Department, and the State of Montana.


a. At Acclimation, all candidates and staff will be tested for COVID-19.

b. Ongoing through the Residential Phase, any cadet or staff member who displays symptoms associated with COVID-19 may be tested, if medical professionals deem it necessary.

c. Additional testing of the Company may occur as operationally necessary.


a. Staff will be screened for symptoms, including temperature, every day on arrival to shift. Any staff who display or report symptoms will be immediately sent home.

b. Cadets will be screened twice daily- morning and evening- for symptoms, including temperature.

c. All other individuals entering our facilities will be screened upon arrival.


  1. The Academy will continue to implement a “closed campus” policy:

a. Facility doors will be locked.

b. Visitors will only be allowed with special permission from the Director or Deputy Director, and with risk-mitigation in place.

c. No activities that require cadets to interact close up with the individuals outside the Academy will be scheduled.

  1. Staff, cadets, and any individuals entering our facilities will correctly and consistently wear masks at all times with the following exceptions:

a. While eating,

b. While engaging in daily hygiene activities,

c. While engaging in physical training that is outdoors, when individuals are more than six feet apart.

  1. The Academy will operate with reduced capacity in all facilities to maximize social distancing.

  2. The daily training schedule will incorporate sanitization of common touch surfaces throughout our facilities no fewer than eight times per day.

November 23, 2020

foresight ensures successful graduation

Class 43 of the Montana Youth Challenge Academy was successfully graduated on November 23, 2020. The Academy honored 82 cadets with diplomas, completing the cycle about 3 weeks early from a typical class. The shortened cycle was the result of statewide increase in COVID-19 cases, including suspected cases within the Academy. Like many other schools and organizations across the state, MYCA encountered some bumps in the road affecting staffing and overall containment. However, the Academy experienced great success in warding off the the virus for nearly 19 weeks. Since last March (during a statewide shutdown), the Academy has undergone intensive planning, allowing for multiple courses of action to be developed so that variations of early program completion could be completed successfully. This in addition to front-loading the cycle with state and NGB requirements, cadets of Class 43 had sufficient time to meet program requirements and graduate...they enjoyed some fun activities as well. Youth Challenge continues to look for areas of improvement including innovative disinfecting and sanitizing equipment, revision of the daily training schedule to allow for ample social distancing, leaning into technology for virtual events, and maintaining flexibility to adapt to an everchanging environment and paralleling program schedule.

July 21, 2020

MYca successfully welcomes cycle 43 to acclimation

Cycle 43 of the Montana Youth Challenge Academy is underway. A curbside drop-off, at the Dillon Readiness Center (Armory), facilitated a safe candidate check-in. Additional safety precautions included a temperature scan and completion of a COVID19 prescreening questionnaire. Candidates were then issued a mask and escorted through the rest of the registration process, which included a COVID test; results are pending. Candidates will remain at the Armory until all COVID results are verified as negative. The first 11 days of Challenge are known as Acclimation. Qualified applicants are invited to become candidates. They trade old habits, hairstyles, and fashions for a rigorous training schedule and a uniform. Candidates are oriented to physical fitness training and military conventions such as drills and ceremonies while they begin to form team relationships with staff and members of their platoon. At the same time, candidates set personal goals for their time at MYCA. Class sizes have been scaled down to meet social distancing recommendations and individuals are limited to their respective platoon until COVID test results are received. Additionally, class sessions are being conducted outdoors whenever possible, with cameo nets providing shade and room for the imagination.

June 27, 2020

MYCA Commencement Forges on Despite Program Interruption

The graduation ceremony for class 42, Montana Youth Challenge Academy, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 27, 2020 in Dillon, MT. Seventy cadets are scheduled to graduate. The commencement will look different from previous ceremonies, with an outdoor location and social distancing measures in place, in order to meet recommended health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The keynote speaker for this event is Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. Major General Matthew Quinn, Adjutant General for the state of Montana, will also address the graduates.

The residential program was temporarily suspended from March 28th through June 1st, for the first time in its 21 year history, in order to reduce the risk of cadets and staff exposure to the Novel Coronavirus. However, the interruption did not detour the cadets of Challenge Class 42. More than 70 cadets returned to complete their initial mission and another 30 have committed to re-enrolling in Class 43, which is scheduled to begin July 21, 2020. Students continue to display perseverance as they progress towards graduation and toward the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the program.

June 4, 2020

myca announces all covid19 test results confirmed negative

MYCA is pleased to share that all results from the Program's COVID testing, earlier this week, have been confirmed negative. Tests were administered to all returning students and staff members as a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of those returning cadets, staff, and the Dillon Community. With the announcement of the reopening of the program, parents were instructed to maintain shelter-in-place protocol with their cadets for 7 days prior to their arrival on campus. Staff have been completing daily temperature screening since early March as an additional precaution. Daily temperature screening of staff and cadets will continue, in addition to retesting for COVID as needed. Other measures that the Academy has continued to keep in place include reduced classroom sizes, students and staff wear masks when a 6' distance cannot be maintained, cadets maintain a double-arm distance from one another, desks and chairs are sanitized in between each class, and frequent sanitization of common touch points throughout the three buildings that the cadets and staff are limited to.

June 3, 2020

Montana Youth ChalleNGe Academy back in session

By J.P. Plutt- Dillon Tribune Staff

The Montana Youth ChalleNGe Academy cadets are back on the University of Montana Western campus following the implementation of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s order to transition to Phase 2 of the COVID-19 response. MYCA Director Trent Gibson received the go ahead on May 22 and he immediately tasked his crew to begin calling Class 42 cadets to see if they were interested in returning to complete their work and graduate on June 27.

“These kids are going to get an opportunity to finish and we made it clear with them and their families that they need to make an informed decision on the risk and what is best for you and your family,” explained Gibson of the outreach.

Gibson said that when he addressed the cadets before they left Dillon following the suspension of the program, he made a commitment to them that the program would do everything it could to provide the class a path to graduation.

As of Monday, 72 of the original 119 members of Class 42 took Gibson up on his promise and have returned to Dillon to complete the program. Another 25 members of the class have committed to come back for the full program. Of the other 22 cadets, some couldn’t be reached and some opted not to return.

To read the rest of the article click here.

MAY 22, 2020


After thorough deliberation and planning, the Director of the Montana Youth Challenge Academy has decided to reopen the program and resume the current cycle. The return of class 42 falls in line with phase II of the State’s reopening plan to begin Monday, June 1, 2020. Input from the University of Montana Western, Beaverhead County Public Health officials, and Montana National Guard have all played influential roles in the decision-making process and in the planning of operations moving forward. The common goal across all organizations is to proceed forward with protocols that maintain the safety of students, staff, and the local community while meeting phase regulations set in place at state and national levels.

MYCA operations were suspended on March 29th by Director Gibson as a precautionary measure to protect the cadets, staff, and the UMW campus community. As of May 15, 2020, just 10 of our 42 Youth Challenge Academies across the nation remained in operating status and there have been zero cases at any NGYCP, but out of an abundance of caution, only 10 of our 42 programs are currently operating. Challenge programs are unique in their structure and operations; they provide the ability to implement a high level of risk mitigation to meet sanitation and social distancing guidelines. MYCA plans to follow all of the guidance for safety from the most trusted sources and will continue to be fully transparent with cadet families about the actions we plan to take.

Class 42 cadets are invited to return to campus for a four-week compressed course that will run from June 1st to June 27th, 2020. Returning cadets will get the opportunity to take the HiSET test, recover academic credit, arrange placement, and graduate. This is a voluntary return; cadets and parents/guardians need to carefully consider the risks and benefits. In the event of electing not to return for class 42, cadets will be offered an opportunity to join class 43.

Academy staff have developed procedures to meet the current state guidelines for schools, including COVID-19 virus testing and routine temperature screening of cadets and all MYCA staff. During the reopening, MYCA will strictly maintain sanitization, masks, small group sizes and other measures to reduce the risk of an outbreak.

We understand that there will be questions and concerns that have not been addressed. MYCA staff is in the process of reaching out to each cadet family through a direct phone call. During the call, staff will discuss the details of each student’s options moving forward and schedule a time slot for each cadet’s arrival. Please do not call until you have been contacted so we do not tie up the phone lines. MYCA will be hosting a LIVE event on the Montana Youth Challenge Facebook page Tuesday, May 26, 2020 (time TBD) to delve further into the details of the program’s reopening and to answer specific questions.

We appreciate the patience, understanding, and support shown by the cadets, their families, local communities, and our stakeholders as we have navigated through many of the unknowns to arrive at this decision.

MAY 15, 2020


APRIL 22, 2020


The Governor’s statement referenced schools opening after May 7 with the specifics to be determined by local school districts.

We are in the process of working through this new information to see how and when Challenge may be able to resume operations. Our unique campus partnership means some coordinating will need to be done.

For now we will continue with our distance learning program. Once we have a clear plan formulated that meets the necessary requirements, we will then be authorized to resume operations.

I appreciate the continued efforts and understanding coming from everyone impacted.Thank you for your patience, keep doing the right things, and hang in there!

Director Trent Gibson

APRIL 8, 2020


Cadets, Families, Friends of MYCA,

We have been notified by public heath officials that our re-start of class 42 will be pushed off until at least 24 April. We are continuing to explore options available to graduate class 42. Our intent is to provide a pathway to graduation and success for those who want it.

There are many things that are uncertain and not within our control; however, there are some things that are within our control. These are where we will put our focus. Lessons and work are being delivered through Google Classroom and hard copy. If you have not yet gotten access to your assignments, please contact your platoon counselor ASAP so we can get the lessons delivered to you.

Once you have received your work; you need to do it and turn it in so you can receive credit for it. Completion of the Academy, credit recovery, and preparation for the HiSET are all based on completing your work. If you have questions or need assistance reach out to your classroom teacher through Google or for academic support teachers are available to answer questions through Google Classroom or via phone between 09:00 and 14:00 at 406-683-7504, or 406-683-7501. Please be sure to leave your phone number so they can call you back if they are unable to answer when you call. There are opportunities to perform service to community projects while still following the state and federal safety guidelines. We encourage you to look for these opportunities and document them so we can give you credit. You can still be working with your mentor and MYCA staff to help get a placement plan started.

We will continue to push out lessons and physical training schedules to keep cadets on track. You will be receiving additional calls from staff who are here to help you.

We will do our part. It is up to you to do yours. We are dedicated to your success and we are here to help as we all work through these changes. The values we taught you early on in the Academy will assist you in maintaining focus : Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.

March 27, 2020


COVID-19 Update:

Dear Families, Mentors, and Friends of MYCA-

The Academy has taken proactive and aggressive steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection to meet guidance and directives while keeping our Cadets in training and focused on their progress. The MYCA Staff, UMW Staff, our partners in the Dillon community, and our Cadets have done an exceptional job responding to the limitations and making the necessary adjustments to operations to meet the guidance from our local and state healthcare professionals.

I have been in constant contact with public health officials to validate the mitigation steps we have put in place. As you are all aware, the situation continues to evolve and risk reductions measures are constantly being assessed. We have had staff pulling double shifts, working overtime, and putting the needs of their families aside to ensure we could continue training. They are truly to be commended.

Today, we have received an official recommendation to suspend operations at MYCA from Beaverhead County Health Department. Given the current circumstances and the ever-changing situational environment I must act to protect the Cadets and staff. As the Commandant of the Academy I feel we must comply with this recommendation and temporarily suspend the program.

The suspension of MYCA operations will begin Sunday, March 29, 2020 and will continue until Friday, April 17, 2020.

This is not a recommendation anyone wanted to give, and it is not a recommendation we wanted to receive. It is, however, the guidance we have been provided, and as I have communicated to everyone in the past, the care, welfare, safety and security of Cadets, staff, families, and community remain our top priorities.

We are appreciative of your patience, support, and understanding through this process. We will continue to give you and your Cadet our best effort, so I encourage you to hang-in there with us. The suspension of operations is a proactive measure to protect everyone directly and peripherally involved with the MYCA and we will proceed forward in an organized fashion.

You will be contacted by MYCA staff to set up a time to pick up your Cadet from Clark Hall on Saturday March 28th. We are going to spread out pick-ups in order to maintain the social distancing directives that you are seeing being implemented in every community.

We understand that everyone is operating in a new reality, and our staff will work with you to set up a time that works for everyone. I ask that you not call as that will jam up the phone lines. Staff will be calling you today to schedule your pick-up time. Please make arrangements to arrive at that pick-up time; early or late arrivals will create congestion in the process.

We all want Class 42 to be rewarded for their hard work and finish what they have started. We will be providing plans and guidance for on-going engagement with the Academy through the suspension of operations. Our goals and intentions that we started this journey with in January have not changed. Though our pathway to success has changed, our commitment to you and our Cadets has not. We are in un-charted waters and we will continue to work together as we navigate this change to our course. Going forward, we will continue to reassess the situation and will update our suspension plans, in accordance with recommendations from the County and State Health Departments and communicate to you with new and relevant information related to your Cadet and MYCA.