About Us

The mission of the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy is to provide a safe, disciplined and professional learning environment that empowers non-traditional learners (ages 16-18) to improve their educational level and employment potential and become responsible productive citizens of the State of Wyoming.


WCCA has graduated 1,399 cadets!

The Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy, or WCCA, is an accredited five-and-a-half-month-long residential academy designed to provide structure, instill discipline and help young men and women recognize and achieve their potential in a quasi-military training environment.

WCCA is a state agency operated under the oversight of the Wyoming Military Department. As such, it is 75 percent federally funded and 25 percent funded by the State of Wyoming.

WCCA is one of 40 programs nationwide, which are all part of the National Guard Bureau’s Youth Challenge Program. The National Guard Bureau founded the Youth Challenge Program in 1993 and has graduated more than 150,000 participants nationwide. The Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy opened its doors in January 2006

The program encompasses two phases: The residential phase and the post-residential phase. The residential phase focuses on structure, leadership development, discipline, and academics. The post-residential phase takes place after graduation, where cadets put their newly-learned skills to the test with the help of a trained mentor nominated by the cadet.

The Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy operates two classes per year: One begins in January, the other in July.

The Academy also uses the camp’s Dining Facility for meals, the camp Chapel for presentations and optional faith/spiritual training, the Obstacle and Confidence courses as well as other services to meet Academy needs. The WCCA greatly appreciates Camp Guernsey’s leadership and support to our mission; without these enablers WCCA’s success would not be possible. In July 2012, the program adopted its current name, the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy (WCCA), and embraced the State’s official code, the Code of the West. A Cowboy Ethics curriculum has been added and is now an integral part of the WCCA’s program.


The Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy is designed around an intervention model built on 8 core components needed for successful living. Much of the skill development process is based on deliberate experiential learning situations created by the staff. The 8 core components and performance measures associated with each component are listed below:

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Life Coping Skills
  3. Job Skills
  4. Health and Hygiene
  5. Responsible Citizenship
  6. Service to the Community
  7. Leadership/Followership
  8. Physical Fitness

Academic Excellence

Classroom studies at the Academy are designed to enhance the cadet`s education skills and instill a desire to continue self-improvement. Classes are given in five areas that are tested on the General Education Development (GED) test. These include: math, science, social studies, literature and the arts, and writing skills/ essay. The Academy also uses The Adult Basic Education (TABE) test to evaluate educational performance and progress.

Life Coping Skills

Each cadet can begin to explore their value structure and come to a better understanding of the attitudes, needs and desires that motivate them as individuals, members of the Academy and as citizens. Included in this area are classes and workshops on: substance abuse, anger management, stress management, gender stereotyping, team building skills, conflict resolution, parenting, basic economics, personal finance, personal goals and career goals.

Job Skills

Cadets develop the basic skills necessary to conduct job searches as their position in the community changes. Goal planning is one of the many areas covered in this area. Cadets learn to complete a written resume, fill out employment applications and how to conduct themselves during an interview.

Health and Hygiene

It is important that each cadet understand the positive correlation between good health and hygiene habits and life-long mental, physical and emotional well-being. Smoking Cessation classes, substance abuse effects, proper nutrition, sexual responsibility, sexually transmitted disease prevention and first aid are just a few of the topics covered in this area.

Responsible Citizenship

This component helps each cadet to develop a better understanding of the forces that work to make a community strong and supportive of its members, as well as the forces that work to disintegrate a community. Cultural awareness, violence prevention, promoting justice and the honor code are discussed in this area. The cadets also learn about citizenship, U.S. government, the election and voting process, and participate in a student government.

Service to the Community

In the Core Component of Service to the Community, cadets develop an understanding of the benefits and value gained through volunteering at community projects and agencies. Cadets volunteer many hours performing services for agencies such as the American Red Cross, and others. Certificates and awards are given to cadets for their participation.


Each cadet gains the skills necessary to be a good follower, a valued member of society, and gains exposure to the traits of good leaders so they may be prepared to lead when the opportunity arrives. This component covers personal motivation, self-discipline, and effective leadership. Cadets can participate in Leadership Positions, Color Guard, Drill and Ceremonies, and Character Development as part of this curriculum.

Physical Fitness

Cadets participate in a program of physical fitness training, which encourages a lifelong commitment to physical, mental and emotional well-being. Cadets must show improvement during the 22-week residential program in addition to obtaining a general fitness knowledge. Activities include, but are not limited to: military style PT, running and organized sports.