cadet hiking


Appalachian Challenge Academy

The Appalachian Challenge Academy opened its doors to its first class in the summer of 2012. The Appalachian Challenge Academy is a part of a nation wide program operated by the National Guard Bereau and is located in Harlan County, Kentucky. The Academy operates two classes per year of up to 150 cadets a class and classes span a 22 week period. We are nestled in the Appalachian mountains in a location best suited for our service area for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Our Academy is the culmination of joint local, state, and federal collaboration to offer tools for success for the youth of our nation.

confidence course


A Specific Approach

Fundamentally, the Appalachian Challenge Academy implements a quasi-military environment to mold and shape the youth in its ranks. Quasi-military simply means we take the best aspects of the military way of doing things (Discipline, Order, Respect, Structure, Accountability, etc..) and teach each cadet to use that as a tool for anything they wish to do. Cadets are exposed to situations that mimic life events that they may encounter. This gives them the unique ability of finding their way long before being thrown into life.   

cadet classroom


Better than the Rest

Cadets, while at the Appalachian Challenge Academy, will be immersed in a very dynamic educational environment. We offer a more focused approach to education by tailoring individual education plans for each cadet. Cadets are given instruction by teachers in the same manner as the schools they originated in but with a greater discipline and focus on individual learning. Cadets will earn credits just as they would in any school system and can be carried back to the school they return to if that be the case. Some cadets can even earn diplomas from their originating schools while in attendance. In  some instances, cadets have even earned college credits while enrolled at the Appalachian Challenge Academy

Frankfort trip


Tools for the Future

The curriculum at the Appalachain Challenge Academy is one of innovation and foresight. The cadets are taught 8 Core Components that serve as a platform for building the future of their dreams. 

Academic Excellence: Focuses on lifelong learning.
Employability Skills: Makes them the ideal fit for any career.
Leadership/Followership: Teaches the values of leadership and being a member of a team.
Life Coping Skills: Gives them the ability to face anything life throws at them.
Physical Training: Teaches the importance of staying healthy.
Service to Community: Shows the value of contributing to one’s community.
Citizenship: Teaches the beauty of being a citizen and all that entails.
Health & Hygiene: Teaches how to maintain the finiely tuned machine that is the body.

These pillars are drilled into everyday life at the Academy and cadets carry these with them into their future where they will be put into practice.