Head-on Camaraderie: Youth ChalleNGe kicks off summer with Field Day

Story by Capt. Rob Cooley, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Bluegrass Challenge Academy Director Patrick Yewell shares the ups and downs of the ACA vs BCA Basketball competition, along with a few laughs. (Photo by Capt. Rob Cooley, 133rd Mobile Public Detachment)

FORT KNOX, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe cadets from the Appalachian and Bluegrass ChalleNGe academies met head-to-head June 3, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for a series of friendly competitions.

BrotherbondDubbed the Youth ChalleNGe Field Day, cadets from the Harlan, Kentucky-based Appalachian Academy (ACA) and Fort Knox-based Bluegrass Academy (BCA) competed in an archery competition and basketball game. The cadets didn’t stop with the sanctioned events, and continued the sportsmanship theme on the softball and soccer fields.

Cadet J. Douglas, a Bluegrass cadet said the day was perfect for the sports and barbecue, but also to compare experiences of the ChalleNGe program with the Appalachian cadets.

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“It’s been great talking to the teens from the other academy and hearing about their experiences,” he said. “If found that for the most part, their program is a lot like ours.”

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Coaches from both Appalachian Challenge Academy and Bluegrass Challenge Academy passionately lead their cadets from the sidelines. (Photo by Capt. Rob Cooley, 133rd Mobile Public Detachment)

The BCA won the Commandant Cup and Golden Arrow award, which will stay at Fort Knox until the next time the two academies meet.

“Although we walked away the victors in both competitions, it feels like everyone’s a winner today,” Douglas said. “I feel a lot closer to my BCA and ACA family. We had a fun time and got to know more about each other.”

The ChalleNGe program is a 22-week course designed to help at-risk youth complete a curriculum that works toward receipt of a high school diploma, enhances physical fitness and provides the participants leadership and life experience to become contributing members of the society.

Before the events kicked off, Patrick Yewell, BCA director, recognized the attending parents and the significance of the trophies but the spirit of the event.

“Remember, it’s not just about the competition, it’s also about having time to laugh, relax and get together,” he said.

“Enjoy your day,” Yewell said. “You’ve earned it.”

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