Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find the answers to some of our more commonly asked questions. Please note, however, that some of them are absolute and some of them are very fluid. For questions pertaining to case by case eligibility, please speak to a recruiter or admissions staff. If you don't find the snwer to your questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

How much does it cost?
The Appalachian Challenge Academy is cost free to everyone and anyone. The program is funded via a partnership between state and federal government agencies.
What ages can participate in the program?
We take applicants that range from 16-18 years old. There are certain criteria that will allow 15 & 19 year olds to participate, but this is on a case by case situation and is something that will need to be addressed with a recruiter. NO ages outside this perameter will be admitted to the program under ANY circumstances.
How long is the program?
Our program is broken down into 2 major portions. The first portion is the Residential Phase. This Phase consists of 22 weeks in which the paricipants will reside at our facility 24/7. After graduation, cadets will be transitioned into the Post- Residential Phase. This Phase lasts 1 year after the cadets have returned home. The Post-Residential Phase consists of regualr meetings and reports with the cadet’s assigned mentor.
What is a Mentor?
A mentor is an individual, preferably outside of immidiate family, that will be paired with a cadet after their graduation into the Post-Residential Phase. This person will meet with the cadet frequently and servecas a guide to ensure each cadet in following through with their Post- Residential Action Plans. THe mentor will be in constant contact with academy staff during this period. Some people have trouble locating a suitable mentor. We recommend you look at current teachers or religious leaders, people the cadet looks up to in the community, or as a last resort, family members may be considered.
What must applicants bring with them on intake day?
The following link is a packing list that cadets can bring with them upon intake. Any items on this list that cadets are unable to bring will be provided to them at no cost upon arrival. If you have questions for items that are outside the packing list, please contact us for clarification. However, thare are items that will be considered “contraband”. Contraband are prohibited items that will result in disciplinary actions should cadets be found in possession. These include but are not limited to: Tobacco products, weapons, illegal drugs, gambling paraphenelia, pornography, electronic devices, etc… Additionally, cadets are not permitted to have money while enrolled as they will have no need for it.
What is the program like?
The program is modeled after certain aspects of military training. We use the term “Quasi-Military” to describe it. We take the best aspects of the military (such as discipline, accountability, uniformity, etc..) and apply them to every day life. We blend this quasi-military mindset with that of your traditional school system. We take all the successes of a traditional school and add a focus to individual teaching to ensure each cadet is given a top of the line education while enrolled. Cadets wil receive credits just as they would if in a traditional school system and some may even obtain enough to graduate from their originating schools. Additional to all of this, we offer dual credit classes that count as college credit hours.
Is this program a "back door draft" for the military?
While we are regualted by the National Guard Bereau, participarting in this program carries no obligation to serve in any branch of the Armed Forces. However, due to the structure of the program, many cadets find transition into the military after graduation a very rewarding career path. That being said, no cadet is ever forced to consider the military and is always a conversation to be had between the cadet and their parent/guardian.
Can I contact or see my cadet when they're in the Academy?
YES! Absolutely. Mail will be delivered to and from cadets on a daily basis and parents/guardians are encouraged to write cadets as often as possible. Mail can be addressed to: Cadet Last Name, Cadet First Name, Platoon (Will be assigned upon arrival) P.O. Box 539 Grays Knob, Ky 40829 Once cadets obtain promotions, they will be allowed phone calls weekly based on their rank. There will be two family days and one home pass where parents/guardians will either be able to meet with cadets or return home with them for a period of time. The time and date of these events will be conveyed to you once they are scheduled fot that particular class. The first family day will be a visit here on our grounds. The second family day, you will be able to sign out your cadet but will be limited to staying within the county limits. Home pass will consist of a sign-out of your cadet in which they will be able to return home for a pre-determined amount of time.
Can participants obtain a G.E.D. while at the Academy?
Yes and No. To participate in G.E.D. courses a cadet must be 18 years of age according to State Law. Cadets will not be allowed to pursue a G.E.D. without first being 18 years of age. There are NO exceptions to this rule.
What about medications?
Cadets must arrive at the academy with a 30 day supply of any long term medications they are currently taking. Any other short term prescriptions must be brought with the cadet. Should the need arise for a refill, parents/guardians will be notified and it will be the responsibility of the parent/guardian to see the prescribing doctor writes a refill. All prescriptions are handled by: Donell’s Pharmacy 40 State Hwy 72 Baxter, KY 40806
Can I email my cadet?
Yes! You can email a currently enrolled cadet by sending all correspondence to Please include full name and platoon in the subject line to ensure its delivered correctly.
How do I contact Staff?
The academy operates a main line phone system during normal business hours (Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:00pm). That number is (606)574-0303 or you can submit general inquiries on the “Contact-Us” page here on the website. The following is a directory of departments you may need to speak with: Commandant: (502)607-5953 Medical: (502)607-5997 1st Platoon: (502)607-5980 2nd Platoon: (502)607-5982 3rd Platoon: (502)607-5984
How can cadets get promoted?
We follow a military rank structure here that allows for increased rewards based on increased ranking. Cadets will be evaluated on a wide array of areas to determine their eligibility for promotion. Some of those areas are behavior, educational progression, attitude, time in previous rank, individually assigned milestones, etc… Higher ranks will require more scrutiny to obtain. Cadets will go through promotion boards where they will be given open ended questions to assess progress in many areas. This is desinged to mimick an interview process and prepare them for future employment. Should a cadet fail to progress to a higher rank at promotion time, they will be provided with counsel to illuminate problem areas and how to improve for the next promotion cycles.
How many credits can a cadet obtain while at the academy
Credtis earned are widely determined by a combination of the originating school district and the cadets motivation. Different school systems will have different criteria for obtaining credits. This is where our Individual Education Plans come into play. We tailor the indivual teachings of cadets based on the requirements set forth by schoold districts. Most cadets will only be limited by their willingness to complete work.