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Chevelle Gilyard

South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy Gives Troubled Youth a Second Chance

By News

South Carolina Youth Challenge cadets

South Carolina Youth Challenge cadets want to help the next young man or women make the right decision to change their lives. Local news coverage of the program allows parents of potential candidates to get an idea of the program. Young men and women enrolled in the program share their views. Cycle 37 Cadets were featured in a news segment on the local news media.

News 19 WLXT, Chuck Ringwalt reporting.

Follow the progress of cadets at South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook



South Carolina Youth Challenge cadets


SC National Guard’s McCrady Training Center houses the program. The mission of the SC Youth ChalleNGe Academy is to intervene in the lives and reclaim the lives of 16-18-year-old high school dropout. Youth Challenge provides values, life skills, education, and self-discipline.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy is not for everyone. It is a choice to change your life. This is not a summer camp. It is as difficult as you make it. When enrolled, you commit to no alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. You commit to discipline.  This is a critical factor in helping you build your own confidence, self-respect, and physical conditioning.

Youth ChalleNGe is a two-part program.

The first part, the Residential Phase, is 5 months long. This phase includes a 2-week Pre-ChalleNGe phase. The 2-week Pre-Challenge phase gives you time to adjust to the discipline of the program.

The next phase is the ChalleNGe phase. The military structure provides leadership and discipline for students during the residential phase. Youth ChalleNGe is based on leadership, teamwork, and self-discipline.

Cadets can expect these values to be a part of all aspects of Youth ChalleNGe. The program honors the motivation and desires of a student to become a productive, employable young adult graduate.

The South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy offers two classes per year.  One class begins in January and the other class begins July each year. The program provides the education you need. SC Youth Challenge also offers unique opportunities during the 22-week residential period.

The program follows the SC National Guard’s commitment to assisting South Carolina’s youth. You are the future of South Carolina. 


There is a Reason You Are Still Here…

By News

Deon Generette Photo by Marissa VannallDeon Generette, a local from Johnsonville, South Carolina visited South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy to speak with the newly enrolled young men and women, ages 16-18 years old, who come from every corner of South Carolina. These young men and women have made the choice to change their lives for the better, taking back their future. They spend 22 ½ weeks away from home with short visits on predetermined dates, dedicated to making a positive change. This is their second chance to achieve their dreams of becoming successful. They lay their foundation for their future.

Mr. Generette is no stranger in witnessing the struggles few of his community members face attempting to be successful viable citizens of society after taking the wrong path in life. He understands people need a second chance to prove they can and want a better life for themselves.They need to be given the opportunity to be successful. Since returning home after several years living in Columbia, South Carolina, Mr. Generette realized his community needed help, and founded a nonprofit Second Chance Organization through his church, White Chapel Holiness Church in Johnsonville. This organization gives community members the chance to prove they can be successful. Recently, his organization was featured in the news media. For more information please follow the link:

The Candidates received Mr. Generette’s message well as he opened the floor to the candidates to say something about themselves and the changes they want to make. He spoke about their purpose in life and the fact there is a reason they are here. The candidates and the staff at South Carolina Youth Challenge are very grateful for his encouragement, motivation and time. Please view the video to hear what he had to say. Deon Generette Encourages the Youth of South Carolina Youth Challenge




By: Marissa Vannall- Public Relations Officer

Your Response Needs to Be a Firm “NO!!”

By News, Parents View

A parent of a Cycle 35 graduate encourages not only the new class, Cycle 36 candidates but also gives the parents a few great words of advice. 

First of all, congratulations to all the candidates for choosing to redirect your future & to change your life for the better. This is a one time opportunity to get on track so no matter how hard you believe that it is, stay focused on the end goal, GRADUATION! 22 1/2 weeks will be over before you know it and at that point, you’ll be ready for the world with a new attitude.

Parents…most of you (not all) are like me…the mother that feels the need to protect your child from EVERYTHING! There is nothing wrong with protecting your child, for the right reasons. However protecting too much and when unnecessary, can lead to your child developing a lack of coping skills, insecurities, low self-esteem, etc. This program will defeat them and challenge everything they have been taught thus far. However it will rebuild them into a person with direction, self-esteem, coping skills, manners, strength, respect for others and education. So please hear me when I say,”If your child calls you and says they hate it, they’re starving and they want to come home!” Your response needs to be a firm “NO!!” Do not bail your child out he/she needs to be right where they are! You do not need to feel ANY guilt or remorse because trust me, you are doing the best thing you can possibly do, for your child. I promise you, they are NOT starving. In fact, they’re eating exactly what they need to.

My daughter graduated Cycle #35 and she is on her way to Aiken Technical College along with a scholarship to a 3D Printing school in Virginia. In fact, she is in Virginia right now and she’s enjoying it. Seven months ago we were in dire straits with her education and none of us were getting along. God will work miracles if you have faith. God bless and good luck to all the new candidates and parents. – Amy Marie, Parent of Cadet Bray, Cycle 35 Graduate





Published by Marissa Vannall

What I Want My Fellow Cadets to Know Past, Present, and Future

By Cadets Corner, News, Success Stories

My name is Jordhan Irvine. I was in Cycle 30 of the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy. Before attending YCA, I was never really a troubled teen, I’d just gotten side tracked. My senior year in high school all my slacking and laziness caught up with me. In January of 2012 I found out I wasn’t going to be able to walk across the stage at graduation the end of the school year. I ended up being about 4.5 credits short of graduating after the classes I was taking and aside from taking an online class I still wouldn’t be caught up. The only other option I had was to go back to high school for a full year. I tried online school but it didn’t work out well. My mom found out about YCA on a radio infomercial, called and we had an interview.

I enjoyed myself at YCA and took everything from it that I could. It was truly hard being the oldest female in my cycle, but that’s what pushed me harder. Since I graduated from YCA on 12 June 2013, I have been doing very well for myself. Granted I did not get my GED while I was there, I studied and took it when I left then made my way to an Air National Guard Recruiter. Not even Six months after graduating from Youth Challenge I managed to enlist in the Air National Guard.

Currently today, I am still local in Columbia stationed at McEntire Joint National Guard Base. I still visit YCA often because I want to make sure that the cadets know that this program is extremely beneficial and if you’re here you might as well make the best out of the situation.

Youth Challenge truly prepared me for the real world without giving me too much to where I couldn’t learn on my own. They made you remember your cadet creed, which also teaches you how to live with values and standards. They somewhat break you down to build you back up and they also give you the tools all around to be successful in todays society and not just another statistic. They make sure that you understand what was wrong and how to fix it. One of the biggest things was respect at YCA. Not just respect for yourself but everyone. It makes you think about what respect really means and how it will help you later on in life.

What I want my fellow cadets to know past, present, and future; this program has a lot to offer. If you take from it what is given then you will see that 22.5 weeks isn’t that bad. You will gain so much from this program you will always remember the experiences, lessons, the relationships that you build with some fantastic people. Thank you Youth Challenge! I will never forget what you’ve done for me.

Cadet Irvine : Cycle 30


Published By: Marissa Vannall

I’m So Glad I Made It This Far

By Cadets Corner

View More Photos, Events, and Activities here South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook

If I met a kid who dropped out of high school and did not know what to do with his life, the first thing I would do is recommend South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy.

Cadet Chavez

Cadet Chavez, A : Cycle 35- Ring Ceremony

This program is one of the most life changing things I have ever been in. The first time I saw my mother after being enrolled in South Carolina Youth Challenge, she said she did not see a trouble making teen instead she saw a young man. I don’t think I have ever been that proud in my life, when my mom told me that. I’m also glad I made it this far because if I would not have made it this far. I would be six feet deep.

I grew up in a single parent home. What threw my life off track was that I was the kid that loved trouble. I was what the court system called a statistic. One of the big problems I had was that I had to be the center of attention and that got me the wrong attention. I ended up get arrested 9 times in a 2 year span. I definitely got the attention but the wrong attention and from the wrong people.

So I started to change my life but I only changed for about 10 months before I got in trouble again. This time, other people were involved with me getting in trouble. I was in a stolen car with a friend and he ended up wrecking into another car head-on. We almost took the lives of 2 other people. But the trouble did not stop there, I ended up getting in trouble two more times. I decide the criminal life was not for me because I kept getting caught.

I found out about Youth Challenge through my probation officer. I looked Youth Challenge Academy up so I could learn a little bit more about it because at first, I did not like the idea of being at a place for 5 months with complete strangers. What got me really interested in Youth Challenge Academy is how much my mother was looking in to it. So I started to think if my mom wants me to go maybe this is the best for me, so I signed up and I came here.

South Carolina Youth Challenge has done an amazing amount of things for me. The number one thing is organization. When I was at home my room was a mess. You could not find a bright neon sign flashing in the mess. So when I got here I thought I could do what I wanted. The sergeants helped me change that. I also had a problem with lying to try and get out of trouble. Sometimes it worked! When I got here I tried to do it but the sergeants caught on to it. I learned quickly that I have to break that habit. I also learned that the sergeants are here as a life coach. They are here to break you down and build you up into a better person. It’s all about tough love here with the sergeants. They also give you life lessons that will help you get out of the court system, help you go further in life, and help you achieve your goals.

I also learned another important life trait called responsibility. I never knew how important responsibility was until I started to learn the trait. Discipline is also another major life skill that Youth Challenge Academy has taught me. Without discipline you basically have no self-control or manners. If you go to a job interview and you walk in with your pants sagging and looking some type of way, do you think they will hire you? No, because you have no discipline or self-respect.

Also, South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy helps you in every single way possible to obtain your GED. They have GED books in the dorm, they have teachers to help you, and they give tutoring if you still don’t understand it. The only way you won’t obtain your GED is if you don’t try. They offer so many certifications like driver’s education (if you have your permit), 3D printing, and forklift. They also have sports teams to help you have even more fun while you are here. They also give you so many things to help you get your dream job.

South Carolina Youth Challenge also has a new program called Post Challenge where they send you to college for free! If you don’t like free college then there is something wrong. But to do any of these things you have to have good behavior. Everything you do here is based on your behavior and attitude.

I’ll probably look back in 20 or 30 years and think I’m glad I came to this program and completed it. I personally believe that every male and female that has dropped out of high school and if they are on a path to nowhere in their life need to come to South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy. When you leave here, you will look back at yourself and think, why I did I ever do some of the stupid things I did. I’m glad I changed and if I could go back and do it again and I would not change a thing about my stay at South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy. I also thank my mom and god for putting the staff in my life to keep me out of jail and out of the grave. – Cadet Chavez, A; Cycle 35 (3rd Platoon)

View More Photos, Events, and Activities here South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook


Published By: Marissa Vannall

Feel At Peace with My Life

By Cadets Corner

To view more photos, activities, and events please click here: South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook


Cadet Polanco, K; Cycle 35

Cadet Polanco, K; Cycle 35 $500 3D PrintingThinkLink Scholarship Recipient.

If I ever saw someone going through what I went through I would honestly probably cry. I never ever want anybody to struggle and to seem like they hit dead end. South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy gave me stability, and discipline. It made me feel like people actually cared about how I end up in life.

Before South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy I was a mess, like I literally was a mess. You couldn’t tell me anything! It was my life, I do what I want when I want. The worst part about it was I repeatedly broke my mother’s heart. You can’t even count on your fingers how many times I told her I was going to change and I didn’t. I even got on my knees and said I was but like every other teenager I was in love.

I was  young and dumb, young, dumb and in love. I thought he was the love of my life and that were going to be together forever. Of course, I never thought that he would put me in a situation that could have ended my life. April 24, 2015 worst day of my life. I remember so little but I get these terrible flashbacks that make me feel like only yesterday I got shot. It was about 5 o’clock the day before April 23 I was doing my thing hanging out smoking taking my usual 2-3 xanax when my boyfriend called me, there was going to be a smoke/chilling thing in red roof Hardeeville of course I went.

That’s all I remember from that day. Back to April 24th the morning off I remember calling my mom after getting shot she thought I was lying I don’t blame her though. I was like the boy who cried wolf to her. I remember being on the helicopter to savannah memorial and that’s it. Shortly after that I was scared to be around guns and I was scared to smoke I was just scared, so scared I slept with my parents for a few weeks like I said I never want to see anyone in a place so low like I was.

I can proudly say I’m clean and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been being in this program. Not once I said I wanted to go home and when I was home I was ready to come back. This is my home. These cadres mean something to me all of these 18 other girls mean something to me I love them and I want them all to succeed.

I recommend South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy because I honestly finally feel at peace with life and my mom is the proudest she’s ever been with me and that’s all I can ever ask for. So I highly suggest that you take some time away from all the smoking and drinking to realize you are someone in this world. You think 5 months is a lot, it’s really not. I’m already at week 22, time flys by so quickly and I feel so amazing being here.

They feed us 3 times a day plus a snack, school Monday through Thursday 8-3 to help us further our education, field trips on Fridays, mentor pass on weekends, sports, like doesn’t that sound so good?? Most importantly we march and we have a family day wouldn’t you love to see your parents cry? Tears of joy of course knowing that you’re finally doing something good in your life.

For me the journey doesn’t stop there. Imagine furthering your education. After receiving my G.E.D I plan to go to Aiken Technical College and continue my education and after Aiken I plan to have a happily ever after. Hopefully you open your eyes before something happens that can possibly end your life. I wish nothing but the best for you. – Cadet Polanco, K; Cycle 35.

To view more photos, activities, and events please click here: South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook

Published By: Marissa Vannall

Graduates of South Carolina Youth Challenge Express Their Gratitude

By Success Stories

Cadet Fenton, D ; Cycle 28

It’s been 3 years since my last day there! It’s been a long road but by far the best thing I have ever done as to change my life and come here! I always think about all the good times I had. I think about how far I have came in life. If it was not for this program and all the help and support I wouldn’t be where I am today! Just wanted to say thanks once again for everything! – Cadet Fenton, D; Cycle 28

View More Stories like this at: South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook



Cadet Goggins, M; Cycle 33

I’m from cycle 33 and I’m doing well , this program helped me in many different ways, I ended up getting my license here, which helped me get a car of my own faster than I expected. I also have a decent job and my certifications in 3D Printing and Fork Lifting helped me get a call back a day after I applied for a job. I wish nothing but the best for all the cadets that make it through the program. I appreciate everything South Carolina Youth Challenge has done for me. I visit often to stay motivated and encouraged. – Cadet Goggins, M; Cycle 33

View More Stories like this at: South Carolina Youth Challenge Facebook

Published By: Marissa Vannall

Cycle 35 Graduation Day

By Challenge Updates, Events, News, Success Stories

Cycle 35 Cadets graduated Decemeber 9,2015.

Cycle 35 Graduates, you made it. You had doubts, you fought to stay true to your plans of graduating. It was not easy, at times some of you wanted to give up, but you didn’t. All of you took advantage of all the opportunities available to you, even if you did not think you deserved it. Guess what? You all deserved it, you all deserved the second chance at success. This is only the beginning, if you can make it through this, YOU CAN make it through anything, you have the skills, the discipline, and you all know what right looks like. South Carolina Youth Challenge is here for you, once a cadet, always a cadet!

To view more photos please click here: Cycle 35 Graduation Awards and Ceremony

To view the Graduation Ceremony Video please click here: Cycle 35 Graduation Video

By: Marissa Vannall



IMG_1487 IMG_1489 IMG_1490

Rahynes Clears The Path to Success

By Success Stories

IMG_7307-16 Leron M. Rahynes is a Cycle 8 (2002) graduate of the South Carolina  Youth ChalleNGe Academy. During his youth he spent a lot of his time in  the principal’s office and conferencing with teachers and his parents about  his behavior in the classroom.

Although Leron was very bright and could easily excel in the classroom he  constantly insisted on being the class clown as well as having the last word  in order to prove he was smarter than the teacher thought. During his high  school experience Leron continued his negative behaviors inside and  outside of the classroom. He became must less interested in school and  started to be placed in lower-level classes as his grades went on the decline.  During this time he began use drugs and sell them at school regularly. His  home life also changed as a result of his choices. He was at odds with his parents and was becoming disrespectful and choosing not to honor their wishes. It was at this time that he was warned that if he was suspended from school one more time that he would be sent to military school.

Soon enough that time came and Leron was sent to West Columbia to the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy at the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School campus. Even though he hated almost every minute of it, it was there that Leron would see the path his life could have taken had he continued making the same bad choices. While in the care of SCYCA Leron was introduced to Community Service, camaraderie, and even took advantage of the opportunity to receive his GED. It was here that he was also introduced to the illustrious brotherhood of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated from Cadre 1SG. Solomon.

Barack With Xi PhiSince graduating from the Youth ChalleNGe Academy Leron has been able to rise above what others may have thought of him because bad choices he made in the past. Leron attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. During his time as an undergraduate student Leron worked for 2 Fortune 500 companies as an intern, met President Barack Obama, joined the Xi Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and met his lovely wife of 7 years of who has blessed him with two beautiful boys. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 2008 in the field of Psychology.

Currently Leron is a teacher and the the Owner of his own Educational Consulting business What the Tech!?! Consulting LLC. He is also working on his Master of Education degree with the concentration of Administration and Leadership with a Principal certification.

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Leron, recently spoke to Cycle 33 Cadets about the program and the success that will come to them once they stick to the program and graduate. They must continue on their path of change in order to become successful.

Published By: Marissa Vannall

A Letter of Gratitude

By Challenge Updates, News

By Cadet Wells, Jamesiaa

I would just like to thank you. I had the chance to leave last night, but I thought about it, I said to myself, “Okay if I go home, what would change about me,” and I said, “Nothing, because it’s like there’s no control when I’m home, so basically I do what I want, when I want.” I don’t want that mindset to continue like that. I would love for my mom to be happy for me and proud to show me off to everybody she deals with. Like I said yesterday I’m not used to getting sent away from home on a good note because I’ve been getting locked up since I was 14. It’s like I do good for a minute, and then I go back into my old ways , I want that to stop also because I’m on parole until I’m 20. It’s hard but I try to manage. My brother that used to go to this program convinced me to go. But at the same time it was either here or jail. I just wanted to write you a letter of appreciation and to let you know, I’ve change my mind about leaving campus because at the end of the day, I have to make the right decision. I took the time to think about what my life would be like if I don’t graduate from this program and risk the chance of not getting my high school diploma. So, thanks for the encouragement, believing in me, and not giving up on me. Thanks so very much.

What It Means To Be A Man

By Challenge Updates, News

By Cadet Moore, Desmon

What it means to be a man. I can’t really explain what a man is because I haven’t reached that stage in life yet but I can tell you what my idea of a man is. In my eyes a man is someone who can take care of his responsibilities. By me not having a father figure in my life I look up to my older brothers to teach me how to be a man. I realize if keep looking up to my brothers I’m not going to have a good life or probably end up dead. So it takes a real mean to realize his mistakes and fix them, no man is perfect. Becoming a man is not easy, it’s a challenge. A man is someone who can take care of his self and provide for his family when things get hard he does not give up, he keeps pushing forward no matter what the challenge is, he keeps his head up. He is respectful and loyal. I see why this is called the youth challenge academy. This is a challenge, getting up 04:30 and doing PT. I always have to do what I am told to do, whether I like it or not. This is to help me become a man and discipline me. It’s time for me to grow up. I regret a lot of stuff I did in my life but I can’t change the past. All I can do is learn from my mistakes.

Cadets From Cycle 28 Return to SCYCA

By Challenge Updates, News, Success Stories
From left to right: Joy Toliver, MSG Morris, Seaman Ansuh, CSM Parker, Petty Officer Daniels, 1SG Solomon, MSG Stewart

From left to right: Joy Toliver, MSG Morris, Seaman Ansuh, CSM Parker, Petty Officer Daniels, 1SG Solomon, MSG Stewart

By Marissa Vannall – Media Specialist/PAO for SCYCA

Seaman Israel Ansuh, 20, and Petty Officer Gerald Daniels, 19, are long time friends from Northeast Columbia, S.C., who enrolled in SCYCA for Cycle 28. At the time neither knew the other had enrolled before the start of cycle 28, each were surprised to see each other. Petty Officer Daniels was in 3rd Platoon, then known as the “Spartans,” and Seaman Ansuh was in 2nd Platoon, Deuce House.  Petty Officer Daniels said, “I was getting into a lot of trouble with school and law enforcement. I was doing things I didn’t need to be doing, involved with drugs and the streets.” He continued speaking about how the program gave him discipline, helped him focus, and kept him out of the streets. Seaman Ansuh agreed with Petty Officer Daniels and added, “I was trying to do something better with my life and this program gave me work ethic.” They continue to remain friends after the program and decided to join the Navy together.

Petty Officer Daniels is an Operation Specialist in the Navy and is stationed in Hawaii. He has traveled to several areas of the world to include Japan and Korea in a year’s time. Seaman Ansuh is a Logistics Specialist in the Navy reserves, stationed in Columbia.

Petty Officer Gerald Daniels had this to say to cycle 33, “Don’t quit, don’t ever quit. Take the G.E.D. and ASVAB seriously. Paying attention to detail is important and so is the military training. You can do it, I did it.” He continued to explain what he was like before he attended the program. He also spoke about the friends who continued down the wrong path, those who went to jail and of those killed because of the bad choices they continued to make. “I was a hustler before I came here; I changed my hustle from a bad hustle to a good hustle. I make great money and I now help my mom,” stated Petty Officer Daniels.

He recalled 1SG Solomon telling him that it starts with a small seed and depending on how you prepared the ground for that seed determines what grows from it. “You don’t want bad fruit to grow from that seed, you need to do what you need to in-order to get good fruit from that seed.” explained Petty Officer Daniels to the young men and women of cycle 33.

Seaman Ansuh continued to explain to the candidates of cycle 33, that they could do this, “It may seem hard, but it gets easier. It’s based off of how you listen and pay attention. The time will fly by if you do the right thing. This place changed my life and how I do things. It will do the same for you.”

Parent Experience Cycle 32

By Challenge Updates, News, Parents View

Parent Experience:  Ms. Catina Lamb

Cadet Jacob Ready and I heard about this program from his NJROTC teacher at Aiken High school. Jacob had been having a lot of problems the past year skipping school and not doing his work.  He had been getting into trouble at home as well. My family went everywhere trying to get my son help. We went to visit South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy and I thought this is the place for my son. I did not want him to end up at DJJ.  I am glad my son decided to take the Challenge and attend this academy. Jacob came home on February 28, 2014  for the first time since January 6, 2014.  I could really can see a change in him for the better. We visited his old school  and his teachers did not even recognize him. I know he’s got a little ways to go, I thank you all for everything that you all are doing for these boys and girls. I would recommend this place to anyone. I can say I’m a proud mom.

Cadet Jacob Ready

Cadet Jacob Ready

Cadet Experience: Volunteer Event

By Challenge Updates, Events, News

Palmetto Trail

The South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy has been given the opportunity to help restore the South Carolina Palmetto Trail.  When finished it will be a 425 mile recreational trail that goes through the state of South Carolina. The trail will begin in Oconee State Park upstate and end north of Charleston. The trail will have several connecting passages that will showcase the unique history and culture of South Carolina. The trail runs through Fort Jackson where the SCYCA cadets have been working hard to clear areas and make the passages visible.

Cadet Thompson

Cadet Thompson

Cade Thompson

3rd Platoon

Palmetto Trail Experience

Working on the Palmetto Trail was really fun. The best part about cleaning up the trail is having a sense of accomplishment after completing the project. Knowing that I am a part of helping the community makes me feel good. My group and I walked about 5 miles during our second volunteer trip on the trail. I did not think I could actually do it, but, I proved myself wrong. The group faced a couple of big obstacles on the trail. There were a bunch of branches blocking the trail and we had to work together to move them out the way. It took us about 15 minutes to complete that task. Moving trees were another big obstacle. The trees seem to be over 200 pounds! My group did not stop. We worked together as a team.

The South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy with 3D ThinkLink Initiative

By Events, News

The South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy has been  given the opportunity to participate in the 3D ThinkLink Initiative.  Two staff members trained in Washington D.C to learn how to teach and implement the program into SCYCA. The program is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education project that introduces students to the field of manufacturing, using 3D design and printing classes to teach critical thinking skills that help at-risk teens make better decisions as they enter adulthood. This experience will open the cadets to a considerable amount of career  opportunities such as, automotive and aerospace engineering, cooking, medicine, architecture and art. Three cadets will be selected to travel to Washington D.C at the end of June to have more intensive training on 3D printing.


Personal Statement from: Ms. Goodwin

By Parents View

Personal Statement from: Ms. Goodwin

Parent of Cadet Ra’Shawn Goodwin

My son struggled academically throughout school. It seemed to get worse after he failed a grade. I made a decision to pull him out of public school. I home schooled Ra’Shawn with the hope of  getting him back in his correct grade. After two years of home schooling, our family decided it would be best for him to go back to public school.  He started out great with his grades, but then he went downhill. He was never disrespectful to me, his father or any other adult for that matter. It seemed his problem was not being able to focus in class; he was silly at times and found life to be fun and games. I admit I was getting to my end, because I wanted nothing but success for my child. With all my efforts nothing was working. Ra’Shawn just seemed to give up because he was so far behind in school. My family has a great support system and we just could not figure out what went wrong. I thought about other program, but didn’t like the reviews I was reading. I reached out to his school counselor in desperation, to see what we could do together to try to help him get where he needed to be.

After not getting the support or answers I was looking for, the counselor then began to give me a list of alternative programs. The South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy (SCYCA) stood out to me. I researched SCYCA over and over, read reviews and decided this maybe the place for my son. I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first.  After attending a SCYCA  orientation, and meeting some of the staff, I felt this was it! Nothing was sugar coated, I felt my son needed this program. My family dropped Ra’Shawn off January  6, 2014  for intake,  our next time seeing him was February 28, 2014 family day pass. I saw a difference  in my son already! He has matured so much in such little time. He even washed the dishes after breakfast without anyone telling him to do so. That meant a lot to me, because, this is something he would have never done. I am a proud mom right now!  I know this is just the beginning for him. Thanks to all the staff at SCYCA keep up the great work.


 Da’Shelia A. Goodwin


Cadet Ra'Shawn Goodwin

Cadet Ra’Shawn Goodwin

CYCLE 32 Cadet Miller

By Cadets Corner, Challenge Updates


My name is Cadet Miller and I’m from West Columbia, South Carolina. I have been in and out of DSS my whole life, running the streets, making bad choices, robbing and stealing. My life has always been rough and my father was never there for me. My mother was having a hard time taking care of me and my siblings by herself. I was impatient and I did not want to listen to my parent or anyone.  I felt like I needed to help my mother manager things around the house so I joined a gang to help her financially. That seem to only make things worse.

By the time I turned eighteen I realized, I had to do something different with my life. So I decided to take the Challenge and attend South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy. The academy has help me change my life by teaching me about self-discipline, integrity and life coping skills. I now have plans and goals for my life and  know what I need to do to achieve them. At South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy I enjoy doing military training I never thought I could do before. I never thought about the military before or the opportunities that I could gain by joining. This program is giving me the education I need to grow. I also participate in sports which, I love and working out every day.

Dream, Believe, Achieve


Cadet Bremer

By Cadets Corner, Challenge Updates

I came to South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA) to better my life and education.  I needed discipline and a positive attitude to achieve these goals. School has always been a big issue for me and the teachers  at SCYCA are encouraging me to do my work correctly. They have a great respect towards my education and dreams. The cadre helps you learn how to be self disciplined and  they give great advice.  So far after two months, I’ve noticed a change in my attitude.  I ‘am  truly lucky to be here at Youth ChalleNGe. My mother is so proud of me for entering this program. Youth ChalleNGe has given me a chance to better myself and receive the right education.  I’ve been searching for a great opportunity like (SCYCA) to help me  get my GED and help me reach my goals in life. I’m looking forward at graduate from the Youth ChalleNGe Academy.  I’m glad to make my family proud and I’m so happy to be here

Lost and Found By Malik Coates

By Cadets Corner

Lost and Found

I was a young man lost in the troubled streets

No where I could go, no where I could be.

Wandering around this world of sin.

Didn’t have any help, didnt have any friends

Searching for help and a place to be.

Youth ChalleNGe had a place for me.

Cadet Stroman

By Cadets Corner

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy was a choice I made to help me become a better young adult. During the first two weeks it was hard going through the residential phase but it only showed me how the program works. I came to Youth ChalleNGe from Baltimore, Maryland to show my family members I need to change from the street life. Every morning I feel I want to go back home but I realized that I need to make this change to make my mother proud. It may not feel good always having someone on your back but it helps to show what you need to improve on. I’m now in YCA and I’m on of the students that gets a chance at taking a Midland Tech class to earn early credit hours. The opportunity to come here made me change and look back at the silly choices I have made. If you look at obtaining the GED as a goal I’m sure the program will go by faster. In the future if you want to experience a change like me then come to the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

Cadet Dixon

By Cadets Corner

Hi my name is Cadet Dixon. During my first couple of weeks here I really wanted to go home and had thoughts of running away to be exact. The reason was because I left my family, my girlfriend who I love oh so very much and my friends .  Being here opened my eyes about my friends.  I have only been receiving letters from my family, girlfriend, and godfather . I figured out friends are not always going to be there for me. It’s the 8th week February 27, 2013, I missed my girlfriends birthday and also Valentine’s day. Those were the hardest days in here so far. Being here has  taught me a lot though.  It has taught me discipline and  how important home is and being with all your love ones. It would be better if we could have more passes home but I guess I got to deal with it. Me and my girlfriend have been planning our future through the mail and even though this program is tough this is the start of me being a new man. That way I can support my girlfriend, family and finally be able to say I am somebody. Through Jesus Christ everything is possible prayer

Cycle 30: Cadet Blandin

By Cadets Corner

My name is Jazmin Blandin. I am a CY 30 cadet at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA). SCYCA is a life changing experience. I have met new individuals in my platoon and they are becoming family. You have to learn how to deal with your problems and focus on yourself. SCYCA has taught me skills in the area of education, teamwork, life coping skills, leadership, followership, physical fitness, and service to the community and citizenship. This program is meant for youth that really want a change in their lives. If I could give advice to anyone enrolling in the program I would tell them that, “if you come to SCYCA with a bad attitude you need to change it. The staff members cannot help you change, if you won’t put the effort into changing yourself”. I believe that no one can help you until you want to help yourself. SCYCA can keep you from taking the wrong path in life. Coming to SCYCA was the best decision I have ever made. This program is a great way to graduate with self confidence and earn your GED or high school diploma.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy allows the cadets to take field trips and participate in various activities throughout the cycle. I also like that I have the opportunity to get a class ring. I know my family is going to be proud of me. I’m going to be proud of myself when I walk across the stage at graduation. SCYCA is the place to be, the program might start off tough but in the long run you will realize that SCYCA is a wakeup call for what life is really like. If you are the type of person that does not take anything seriously, SCYCA will teach you about life. This program will help you make positive changes in your life. South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe teaches that you can do anything, if you set your mind to it.
1st Platoon
Cadet Blandin

Dream Believe Achieve

By Success Stories, Uncategorized


Tyler Clas a cadet from Cycle Eleven  dreamed, believed and is achieving his goals. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and had no plans for his future.  After visiting the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA)  he decide to enroll.  He completed the program with his GED and graduated with honors.  He enlisted  into the army where he served 5 years . He deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.  After completing service with the military, he attended Midlands Technical College.  After completing a year and a half at the Technical college, he transferred to the University of South Carolina (USC).   He is currently a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. When asked what advice would he  give to SCYCA cadets,  Mr. Clas said, ” I did not think I could do anything with a GED but I was able to do a lot. I currently have one more year left before I graduate USC with a bachelors degree. It’s important to figure out  where you want to go, what you want to do, you need a plan.” Mr. Clas future plans are to work with Aerospace or nuclear power.


Graduate Cadet Roberts Interview

By Cadets Corner, Success Stories

Ms. Sumbry: Tell me about yourself and why you decide to come to the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA)?

Cadet Roberts: I graduated a cycle ago and  I felt like SCYCA was the program for me. SCYCA  has benefited me, by helping me become a man and helping me get into college.

Ms. Sumbry: Did SCYCA help you change your life?

Cadet Roberts: South Carolina Youth Challenge changed my life in so many ways. I am a better person than I was before I came. SCYCA help me change my future into a positive one. I am becoming a more discipline, respectful young man. SCYCA helped me with some personal things like getting off of probation and made me take responsibility for my own mistakes.

Ms. Sumbry:  What are your future plans?

Cadet Roberts: My future plans are to get a job and go to Valdosta State University and to become more involved with my family. 

I feel good about myself after taking the challenge. I have matured a lot, when I go out in public people see me as a different person. They see me as a young man not a little boy doing the same negative things he use to do. I have changed and South Carolina Youth Challenge made me who I am today. 

Thank You SCYCA


Update on Cycle 30: Classes Started Today

By Events, Uncategorized

Cycle 30 cadets have been very busy these past few days. They spent most of their day Friday getting ready to graduate from the Pre-Challenge phase. The candidates were full of anticipation and excitement. They practiced military drill and learned how to iron their new uniforms. The candidates officially became cadets after graduating from the Pre-Challenge phase Saturday! Between Saturday and Sunday cadets made their first phone call. Today starts the residential phase. For five months the cadets have the opportunity to make basic lifestyle changes and prepare for their GED through rigorous academics and physical training based on the programs eight core components. Focus is on self-discipline,self-esteem, education and development of healthy lifestyles. Parents please encourage these cadets to push forward. A letter from you may make the difference in whether they complete the program.

South Carolina Youth Challenge Started Cycle 30!!!!!!

By Events, Uncategorized

On Monday, January 7, 2013 Cycle 30 registered over one hundred candidates. Over the past week and a half the candidates been taught teamwork skills on how to work together with each other. They are also learning how to adjust to the physical, mental and social discipline of the program. Focus is on teamwork, close order drill, code of conduct, leadership/followership skills and physical fitness training.

The candidates had their first Physical Training (PT) test yesterday, to find out where they stood and when it comes to physical fitness and health. Youth Challenge  encourages lifelong commitment to physical fitness, mental and emotional well-being. Cadet must show improvement during the 22 week residential program. Activities include, but are not limited to: military style PT, running and organized sports. The candidates have worked hard over the last couple of days physically.

Thank you parents for continuing to support your candidates because it’s all about them. Please  write the candidates letters of encouragement.

Thanksgiving Activities: What Are You Thankful For?

By Uncategorized

These  cadets express there feelings on what they are thankful for doing this holiday season

I am very thankful for my youth challenge family that has been here for me through my time of struggle. I am proud to say that cycle 29 was the first cycle to eat thanksgiving lunch in the main DFAC with Colonel Jackie Fogle, Mr. Milton Montgomery, CSM Michael Parker and the rest of the South Carolina Youth Challenge Staff. The lunch was amazing. The atmosphere was wonderful! We all sat and ate and thought about all the things we were thankful for. Thank you South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

Cadet Pinckney

It was a different experience than what we are normally use to, sitting in the DFAC and eating lunch with all the staff members of SCYCA. I want to thank the main DFAC for allowing the Academy to come eat lunch. We had very good food!!! There was turkey, ham, green beans, chocolate cake and lots more. We had the opportunity to talk while eating our meal. The best part was eating lunch was Colonel Shealy, Colonel Folge and Mr. Montgomery. They took time out their schedules to come eat with us.

Cadet Davis

1st platoon

Incredible Edibles

By Uncategorized


Incredible Edibles

Who knew our science teacher Ms. Mullins could make learning so sweet by allowing our class to use candy to learn about plant cells. I never knew what cells looked or worked like. I never thought of cytoplasm as being wiggle like jello and a nucleus being soft like a marshmallows. Ms. Mullins introduced the academy to a fun experiment that was educational as well.  Not only did I receive a better understanding of the parts of the cell, I now know how they function. I speak for the academy when I say who knew learning  could be so much fun.


Cadet Brewton


Bamburg Job Corps

By Uncategorized

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy offers a placement program, which helps graduates secure employment, continue with furthering their education, or enlisting in the military. On a placement field trip SCYCA visited Bamberg Job Corps Center. Job Corps is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training.A typical day at Bamberg Job Corps is full of activities to help our students prepare for the real world. Students get up early and spend the majority of their day receiving academic and hands on career technical training. After class, students study or hang out with friends before dinner in the cafeteria. After dinner, students may do chores in their dorms or spend their downtime studying. Most students are in bed by 10 PM in order to rest for the next day’s tasks. For some cadets Job Corps might be a placement option after graduating from SCYCA. While touring the Job Corps facility, we saw recent graduates from SCYCA who were current students of Job Corps. The graduates of SCYCA encouraged the  current cadets to work hard, believe in themselves  and the bright future ahead of them.


State Museum Visit

By Uncategorized


On October 29, 1988, the South Carolina State Museum opened its doors to the citizens of  South Carolina. This new facility is one of the finest museums in America. Since the day it opened the museum has awed, delighted and enlightened millions of visitors.

The State Museum houses the most artifacts in the State of South Carolina. The building used to be a textile mill. This former textile mill was the first in the world . When it opened in 1894, manufacturing cotton duck cloth (a canvas-like material), it was the first electric textile mill in the world. It was also the first major industrial installation for the General Electric Corporation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The State Museum has more than 70,000 artifacts in its collection, and it is still a very young institution. The SCYCA cadets toured the State Museum on November 4, 2012. The cadets  were able to learn a lot about South Carolina’s history.


Veterans Day Ceremony

By Uncategorized

The Lower Richland Veterans Formation Chapter 2 had their Ceremony on November 03, 2012 . The  Ceremony was a great way to show the men and women who served our country how appreciative we are. The guest speaker was Minister Ervin Barnes, and he stated “Freedom isn’t free, There are heroes in the thousands who have been held as prisoners of war or whose fate has never been resolved. Many have been lost in the chaos of battle and the grief of their loss has been more acute for their families. Fellow Americans have been captured, cruelly stripped of their freedom, treated with contempt and brutality, used as pawns by their captors in a larger political struggle. They have fought long, lonely battles against disparity. The citizens of the United states owe a great debt of gratitude to these heroes. It is with great pride and the utmost dignity that we say thank you, because freedom isn’t free, somebody had to pay. Many soldiers have fought so that we as Americans could be home and safe. Fifty Cadets from SCYCA posted the 50 flags of the states to say thank you to the men and women for their services.

A Cadets View of the State House Visit

By Uncategorized

The state house tour was pretty cool. I was able to learn a lot about South Carolina history. I learned that the palmetto tree is the state tree, because of its history in South Carolina. When the British shot a cannon ball at the confederate barricade the cannon ball bounced off and flew back and hit them. The confederate barricade was made out of palm trees which is soft and spongy.  The South Carolina seal has two murals shown on it. The first picture depicts the state tree standing representing the victorious defenders, and the fallen tree is the British Fleet. The second mural depicts a woman standing over swords looking towards the sun. The woman looking towards the sun is supposed to symbolized South Carolina  looking forward to a new day. There are also bronze stars on parts of the state house exterior that represent were the state house got hit by cannon balls during the war. There is a lot of history in the state house that you can learn.

Cadet Epps

4th Platoon

Blood Drive

By Uncategorized


The American Red Cross is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross also plays a leading role in protecting the safety of donor and patients and increasing the availability of blood. It has been among the first to help develop and implement testing for infectious diseases and is frequently the single major contributor to clinical trials to improve blood safety. Providing life-saving blood and blood products to patients is a key component of the American Red Cross mission to help people in times of emergency and disasters. Some of our cadets volunteered their help at the Blood Drive while others gave the gift of life “Blood.”

2012 USMC Ulitimate Challenge Mud Run

By Uncategorized

On Saturday, October 6, 2012 SC YCA cadets volunteered at the 2012 USMC Ultimate Challenge Mud Run.  Its “Often Imitated… but Never Duplicated” or at least that is what the United States Marine Core says. Since 1993, the Greater Columbia Marine Foundation has hosted the USMC Ultimate Challenge Mud Run which has grown to attract enlistee’s from all across the United States and Canada. This biannual event was created to raise money, awareness and support for Marines, veterans, and their families in the Columbia area, the state of South Carolina, and across the nation who have been wounded or killed while serving on active duty.

Field Day

By Uncategorized


Our cadets enjoyed a Field Day on Friday, October 5, 2012 at Camp Long in Aiken, South Carolina. The cadets participated in fishing, canoeing, zip line, rock climbing and other various activities at Camp Long.  For many cadets this was their first time fishing.  Even though  no fish were caught it was a  great experience.  The cadets were able to relax and enjoy a day in the country.



By Uncategorized

ImageThe 2012 Empowering Girls Symposium was held on October 5, 2012. The theme of the symposium was Own It: Be what you want to see in the world.  This symposium was full of workshops and keynote female speakers to inspire the future female leaders of tomorrow.  Dr. Gilda Cobb-Hunter was a keynote speaker that educated and inspired females in attendance as she shared her life story. Dr. Cobb-Hunter was the first African American women in Orangeburg County elected to a statewide office. She was elected to the South Carolina State House of Representatives in 1992, where she currently serves. The Dr. Cobb-Hunter message to all females were, if you believe in yourself and in your dream, no one can stop you from achieving it.  One of the SCYCA Cadets had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Dr. Cobb-Hunter.

The Symposium held workshops for adult and young adult females. From SCYCA, Cadet Sabb served on a board of young adult females that talked about their lives. The board gave their audience  a small glimpse of what it is like to be a young female  in society today . The name of the workshop was “Girls in Juvenile Justice System: Voice for change.”  It was empowering to hear how these young females decided that they were not going to allow what anyone said or did to them influence them.  These young adults were going to do better and achieve their dreams.Image


By Uncategorized

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe is in the process of taking applications and interviewing for the next class. IF YOU KNOW ANYONE THAT COULD BENEFIT FROM THE PROGRAM PLEASE CONTACT US!!!!

Eligibility Requirements are:

Applicants must be a legal resident of South Carolina Applicants

Applicants must turn 16 years of age on or before the start date of a class, but be no more than 18 on the start date

Submit the application as soon as possible

Applicants legal guardian must attend an orientation and come to an interview

Applicants must want to attend the program and participate in the military structure

Applicant must be physically capable of participating in physical fitness

Applicant should be academically able to work toward the GED or High School credits if qualified

Applicants must commit to being alcohol, tobacco and drug free. Cadets will be tested during the residential phase

There is Zero tolerance for gang activity

Applicants must not have a pending court date or be convicted of a felony offense. Any legal issues will be reviewed on a case by case bases


Our Mission – To intervene in the lives of at-risk youth and produce program graduates with the values, skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as adults. The South Carolina National Guard wants to challenge you with a second opportunity for success.




By Uncategorized

The Cadets received their test results back from the Official GED Practice Test (OPT) last week.  The OPT tells the cadets what areas they need to focus on before they take the official GED. Cadets take general studies, GED classes, which address the content and skill areas needed to pass the GED exam. These classes are general science, general math, general social studies, language arts, reading and writing. The cadets will get a chance to take the GED during their stay at SCYCA.



For the cadets that do not receive their GED during the residential phase, SCYCA will cover one GED test fee, up to 12 months after the cadet graduates from the program. The cadets will be taking the first part of the GED on Nov 7 and the second part on Nov 14!! Good luck to the cadets and keep up the good work!!

Information on ASVAB!!!

By Uncategorized

Yesterday the Cadets took the ASVAB which is a multiple- aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the Military. The score range for the ASVAB is 1 to 99. The ten areas the ASVAB covers are -general science, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, numerical operations, auto & shop information, mathematics knowledge, mechanical comprehension, electronics information and assembling objects. Cadets that graduate are not required to go into the military but all our cadets take the ASVAB. Its always good to have a back up plan!!!! Good luck Cadets…


Cadet Goss View on the ASVAB!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Uncategorized

My experience with the ASVAB test was ok. The asvab test wasn’t so hard. There were things on their that I did not understand, but  I focused on the question an picked the best answer. Some people don’t want to take the test. I didn’t want to take it either, but if you stop and think about it and take the ASVAB seriously it will benefit you in the future. You might change your mind and decide to go into the military. Always put your  best effort into what you are doing. Stay strong, think twice before you give up.



Mentor Training

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Can you think back through your life to someone who you looked up too? Perhaps this was someone that was nice to you or someone who was successful in their career. In our lives there might have been many people who have influenced us. These individuals were a wealth of information. That is why it’s very important to find someone that you can learn from – a mentor. One of the most important parts of the SCYCA program is pairing a cadet with a mentor. Someone from their home town that can give them wisdom.

A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself.

Thank you to all the individuals that decided to become a MENTOR FOR SCYCA!!!!!!

The Cadets Adventure at the Columbia Museum of Art

By Uncategorized

Art is defined by many different forms of expression and symbolizes different things for different cultures and groups of people. By definition the word art is an expression of human creative skill and imagination. The cadets recently got a chance to explore the Columbia Museum of Art on Friday, September 21,2012. The Columbia Museum of Art has been exhibiting art from around the world since 1950 and has a wide range of works from varying eras. Some of the eras of art displayed at the museum are contemporary, modern art forms, and Asian art forms. Thomas Berger, a famous writer wrote ” What is art but a way of seeing?”, and the cadets got to view an assortment of art works and learned how they could positively express themselves through art. Many of the cadets were fascinated with the stories of the different artist on display at the museum and they learned that even though the artist endured hardships they did not let those hardships define them. The cadets were interested in the ways the artist used their hardships to positively express themselves through their artwork.

Are You Ready?

By Uncategorized

South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy wants to challenge you with a second opportunity for success.

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE YOUTH CHALLENGE??????????????????????????????

To find out more information visit our website at or follow us on  Facebook at or twitter  @SCYCA

2nd Physical Training Test (PT)

By Uncategorized

Yesterday the cadets had their second  Physical Training Test (PT). The Cadets had their first PT test during the  first phase of SCYCA, to find out where they were when it comes to physical fitness and health. The program encourages  lifelong commitment to physical, mental and emotional well-being. Cadets must show improvement during the 22-week residential program. Activities include, but are not limited to: military style PT, running and organized sports. The cadets have worked hard over the last 11 weeks physically.  During the PT test yesterday they saw the benefits their of hard work. Many cadets did better on the second PT test!!!  Congrats to the Cadets Good Job!!!!!


By Uncategorized

Want to find out more about what the current cadets are doing or do you know a youth that would benefit from becoming apart of South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy. This Blog is a great source to find out about SCYCA!!! Find more information at or on facebook at or on Twitter @SCYCA!!!!!