The 8 Core Components

1. Academic Excellence

Academic Excellence prepares Cadets to improve their attitude toward learning while raising the expectations for what they can achieve. During the Residential Phase, all Cadets receive a full schedule of academic classes in preparation for General Educational Development (GED) testing, for earning a high school diploma, or for reentry to high school. In all cases, however, Cadets strive for increases in math performance and reading comprehension as evaluated by improving Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) scores in the Residential Phase.

Mastery of this component unquestionably prepares Cadets for future academic success, and translates into all areas of their growth. A strong sense of academic success is important for enabling lifelong learning skills and personal growth. The task completed in the Academic Excellence core component is to ‘Improve academic achievement.’ The task is measured by TABE improvement, credit recovery, and GED and/or high school diploma.

2. Physical Fitness

Mastery of the Physical Fitness core component is an outward sign of a Cadet’s inward progress, and a set of tools that can ensure a lifetime of improved quality of life and healthy habits. In addition to the opportunity to earn a variety of fitness awards, the tasks completed in the Physical Fitness core component are:

~ Participate in physical fitness training and testing

~ Fitness Gram® Fitness Test

3. Leadership/Followership

Leadership/Followership is a key point of emphasis in the development of adolescents in the
Challenge program.

Cadets immersed in a group-living environment demonstrate mastery of this component as they develop
and define moral standards, apply ethical decisions, and collaborate with their peers. Tasks
completed in the Leadership/Followership core component are:

~Perform basic military customs and courtesies

~Define and recognize leadership skills, traits, dimensions, and components

~Employ leadership skills in accordance with Army FM 6-22, “Army Leadership” while performing in a leadership position

~Employ followership skills

4. Responsible Citizenship

Responsible Citizenship ensures each Cadet acquires the knowledge to fully appreciate and participate in the political and governmental systems of the United States. This core component provides a strong understanding of individual rights and responsibilities given to each member of our society. These skills utilize experiential learning to effectively model classroom, community, and student government behaviors.

Mastery of this component will allow each Challenge Cadet to understand his or her personal role in the success of the community and of American society. It demystifies the role and power of government, and empowers Cadets to participate in ways that were previously inaccessible to them. 

Tasks completed in the Responsible Citizenship core component are:

~ Register for Selective Service, if eligible

~ Register to vote, if eligible

~ Communicate a basic understanding of the U.S. Constitution, government and citizenship

~ Participate in the democratic process

5. Job Skills

Through Job Skills, Cadets have an opportunity to explore and investigate future career paths, career assessment and interest inventories, job skills orientation and awareness, and actual training in area vocational centers (where available). Cadets also learn how to leverage their growth in other core component areas to understand what it means to be a productive, valuable employee in the marketplace.

Mastery of this component equips Cadets with the understanding to develop and maintain a professional resume, complete job applications, and prepare for and excel in job interviews. Tasks completed in the Job Skills core component are:

~ Complete the ASVAB and participate in a vocational interpretation

~ Demonstrate knowledge and skills required to seek and obtain employment:

     • Acquire job search skills

     • Complete a job application

     • Complete a résumé

     • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of work ethics

     • Complete a mock job interview

     • Explore knowledge and skills required to pursue future educational opportunities, to include educational alternatives, institutions and financial aid

6. Service to Community

Cadets must perform a minimum of forty hours of qualifying service to the community to successfully complete this core component. By working to achieve a service to the community goal, both individually and in teams, Cadets learn the value of their labor while directly experiencing the difference they can make in the lives of those around them. At the same time, Cadets learn to understand that as members of the community themselves, they are creating improvements in their own lives because they also benefit from a stronger community. Cadets are also exposed to a wide variety of opportunities that can manifest themselves as future career and vocational paths.

Mastery of this component allows Cadets to feel ownership in their community and accountability to
their peers and themselves. Tasks completed in the Service to the Community core component are:

~Describe the importance and value of a service to the community and/or conservation project

~Complete a minimum of forty hours of service to the community/conservation projects

7. Health and Hygiene

Health and Hygiene serves the important purpose of blending the Cadet’s mental well-being with improved physical condition and care. This core component broadens Cadets’ exposure and understanding of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and behaviors that can have long-term consequences for their personal physical and emotional well-being. Cadets further make the connections between physical and emotional health by understanding how nutrition, attitude, and lifestyles intersect in the complete person.

Mastery of this component improves a Cadet’s physical and emotional state, and has a profound effect his or her decisions, behavior, and overall outlook. Tasks completed in the Health and Hygiene core component are:

~ Recall the adverse effects of the abuse and available treatment resources for ATOD (alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs)

~ Recall healthy sexual practices, human sexuality, family planning, and related responsibilities

~ Recall the methods and practices used by individuals to prevent the spread of communicable diseases including STDs, HIV/AIDS, and other bloodborne pathogens

~ Recall the importance of nutrition in the daily diet for personal well-being

8. Life-Coping Skills

Life-Coping Skills is another critical dimension for Cadets as they strive for increased self-esteem and self-discipline. Because Cadets have the opportunity to combine classroom and residential skills within a cohesive group environment, the successful skills of the entire group are patterned on the individual. This transfer of stability and consistency enables individual Cadets to model positive and effective behaviors for handling their emotions, ordering their personal lives and finances, and managing stress and unpredictability in other unforeseen circumstances.

Mastery of this component builds resilience and confidence in Cadets, and equips them to meet future obstacles and successes alike. Tasks completed in the Life-Coping Skills core component are:

~Understand personal finance

     • Demonstrate basic banking (savings and checking account management) skills

     • Demonstrate the importance of maintaining a good credit record

     • Demonstrate how to prepare and manage a personal budget

~ Recognize various emotions and stressors, and identify coping strategies

~ Recognize conflict resolution strategies