WCCA on track to graduate 1,000 cadets by June

Jan 25, 2018

Wyoming Cowboy ChalleNGe Academy is nearing the 1,000 graduate mark in the near future, and with a record-setting class on board now at Camp Guernsey, it could be a very-near future.
The camp is currently home to 98 youth enrolled in youth challenge, which has graduated 940 cadets in its 12-year, 34 class history. Today 36 of those cadets are in Class 35 and will graduate in March. The newest class –the largest the academy has seen – arrived a few weeks ago, and is on track to graduate 53 cadets in June.
ChalleNGe Academy Director Eric Brooks said his recruiters are doing a great job, and the staff in Guernsey is working hard to meet the program’s continued growth.
He credits having five recruiters in the state as an advantage over the demographic, weather and travel challenges Wyoming offers.
“It’s a few more than some states have, but to have someone in, say, Rock Springs, and a school calls, we can get someone over there quickly,” Brooks explained. “For most of our applicants, when they are ready and motivated—they want to do it right now.”
He also credits the relationships his recruiters are building in their communities.
Stacy Ferguson has been a recruiter in Cheyenne for about a year and a half. She said relationship building is the key for growing the all-volunteer program. Whether in the schools, homes or getting a nudge from a judge, at-risk youth are learning where to turn before it’s too late.
“I think we’re making more contacts; just by getting out there in the community, people get to know you,” she said.
Once they volunteer to enter the life-changing, and sometimes life-saving program, cadets can look forward to increased career-building opportunities.
“We’ve expanded our vocational training from one week to three full weeks, and will start heavy equipment training with the Wyoming Contractors Association,” Brooks explained. “They are going to bring equipment here and we’ll get with (Training Center Commander) Col. Huss, to see how we can best use that to improve the camp.”
Wyoming Youth Challenge Academy is a voluntary program for at-risk 16- to 18-year-olds. It consists of a 5 1/2 month residential phase at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center, followed by a 12-month mentoring phase.

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