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Core Components

The MYCA program is built around eight core components, taking a whole-person approach to youth development. 

Academic Excellence

Cadets attend daily academic classes delivered through our partner, Marshall Public Schools, that increase math and reading comprehension and prepare them for General Education Development (GED) credential testing, credit recovery, or a high school diploma. Evaluation of a cadet’s grade level progress during the Residential Phase is measured using the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) testing process. Cadets also explore the knowledge and skills required to pursue future educational opportunities.

MYCA women sit in classroom and learn academic excellence
MYCA women help each other climb over big tree branch

Health and Hygiene

Cadets learn the value of a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. The program provides a holistic approach that combines physical and mental well-being as cadets explore the effects of substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases on their physical health and well-being. Cadets learn the physical and emotional benefits of proper nutrition through participation in classes and structured group discussions.

Job Skills

Cadets prepare for long-term, gainful employment. Career exploration is accomplished through career assessment and interest inventories, job-specific skills orientation and awareness, and training at the Calhoun Area Career Center. Specific classroom activities focus on development of individual resumes, completing job applications, and preparation for and conduct of job interviews.

MYCA woman using a grinder on a piece of steal
Group of male cadets marching while carrying flag


Cadets develop strong character while identifying and applying individual moral and ethical standards to perform various roles and responsibilities in a structured group environment. They learn to willingly comply with established rules, regulations, and procedures; perform basic military customs and courtesies; define and recognize leadership skills, traits, dimensions, and components; employ leadership skills while performing in a leadership position; maintain a personal living area; and function as an effective team member.

Life Coping Skills

Cadets learn skills designed to last a lifetime. Increased self-esteem and self-discipline are gained through a combination of classroom activities, group discussions, and a structured living environment. Cadets learn how to identify and self-regulate emotions, such as anger, grief, frustration, and stress and how to utilize conflict resolution strategies. Challenge provides the educational resources necessary to foster fiscal responsibility, helping cadets understand personal finance, basic banking, obtaining and managing good credit, and how to prepare and manage a personal budget. Additionally, the program helps youth to develop grit and resiliency, two critical traits for navigating life.

MYCA man sitting on grass smiling eating
MYCA men doing sit ups outdoors on the grass

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness becomes an integral part of cadet daily life. Cadets perform physical training based on the President’s Challenge, a test battery based on data collected from a variety of sources including the 1985 President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports National School Population Fitness Survey, the Amateur Athletic Union Physical Fitness Program, and the Canada Fitness Award Program. While we expect 100% effort, we understand each individual starts at a different level of fitness.

Responsible Citizenship

Cadets discover their role in the democratic process and learn their rights, privileges, and obligations as United States citizens. The U.S. Government structure and processes, along with individual rights and responsibilities at the local, state and national level, are addressed in the classroom environment, in the student government process, and through practical experiences within local communities. Those who are eligible register for selective service and to vote.

Male cadets in line, outdoors, soluting
MYCA men outdoors carrying equipment

Service to Community

Cadets realize the value and importance of giving back to the community while performing a minimum of 40 hours of service to the community and/or conservation project activities in groups and on an individual basis. These activities provide additional opportunities for career exploration as well as enhancing community-needs awareness in cadets.