Success Stories

(See more feedback on our Facebook Review page.)

Feedback from Class of 2017-2 Parents, Cadets & Supporters:

  • “I love IDYCA my son is doing so great in this school the teachers here actually care about their students and help them. So the students want to succeed my son’s attitude is already so much better since starting here he has a new perspective on life a goal. I’m so PROUD of him. And so Thankful for IDYCA and it’s staff. I highly recommend this school.“. – Parent in Pocatello

Feedback from Class of 2017-1 Parents, Cadets & Supporters:

  • I would like to just take a second and tell class of 17-2 that you guys got this. No matter how hard it gets stay the course. Push through it cause when that moment comes that your walkin across that stage and giving everyone your final goodbyes youll thank not only the Cadre but yourself for stickin to it. Its hard and tiring but you won’t regret a minute of when ur crying in your flights arms saying goodbye. So hold on tight. Dont let go”. – Love Cadet Airman First Class Medeiros (Blackfoot)
  • “Absolutely love this program man. The skills you learn here are amazing. Definitely would go again if I could!” – Cadet Staff Sergeant Gallegos (Caldwell)
  • “I love this school. It has giving my son a second chance at graduating school. Thank you so much for all your help and warm welcoming.” – Parent in Kuna

Feedback from Class of 2016-2 Parents, Cadets & Supporters:

  • “Honestly none of this wouldve happened without you and the staff at IDYCA. I have had some bumps in the road but like you guys said thats normal. I want to say thank u and please tell all the staff that are still there i said thank u.” – Cadet Rocha (Caldwell)
  • “My son wasn’t doing anything. I mean nothing he went up with a 0.4 GPA and left with a 4.0. He knows he can accomplish anything now. I love all the staff members up there. They genuinely care for all those kids.” – Parent in Pocatello
  • “One year ago, on this date, was a start of a whole new life. Although i didnt want it, i didnt have a choice. I was probably one of the hardest cadets to deal with in the first few days. I kept telling myself that my mom was gonna come back and get me and it would all be fine, but that day never came. So i realized i had to accept it. I started doing better, being more involved in the group, talking to more of the girls, and starting to enjoy it after a couple of weeks….I started learning the DECAF food schedules, the bi weekly routine for pt and meals, etc. Although i didnt like the pt, i still had to do it. It was hard, but i pushed through. I remember waiting near the tsgt for mail call, hoping i would get something, waiting to hear my name. Always asking them if they were sure they didnt miss my name. I remember all the girls asking me what i thought was for dinner each night. Sometimes i was wrong, sometimes i was right. I remember some of the girls pushing me to run up the hill to earn the guide on because they knew i hurt. But they kept telling me “you can do it Valentine, push yourself. You got this.” And thats what i did. We started becoming a team….On graduation day, thats the day everybody became so close. It was our last day together and then we all went our seperate ways after that. We hugged, we cried, excuse me bawled, we finally got to hug the Tsgts. It was an amazing day. And then it was gone… I will never forget how the academy changed my life for the better. They helped in so many ways and got me healthy and on track… Although i hated it at times and always wanted to go home, sometimes i wish i could go back. I remember saying that i wasnt gonna miss it but the staff were right, you do miss it because that place is home. Thank you IDYCA for everything you did for all of us girls “Gems – Never Back Down” “Gems – One Team One Fight”– Cadet Valentine (Nampa)
  • “one year ago today was my 1st day at the IDYCA and I really didn’t want to go. I was doing everything to get out of it. I’m gald that did not happen and I went. that was the best 5 and half months of my life my brothers and the life long friends I made. It was the best thing I could have ever did with my life. all the staff and tsgts and msgts that help me over come the challenges in my way. I thank my tsgts in the axe bay because I know we have the best tsgts i don’t care what anyone says we have the best for them picking me up and pushing me even when I didn’t want to go on and tell me not to give up on myself. I was going through alot at that time and I let myself go and because of my flight and my tsgts not giving up on me and pushing me i lost 38 pounds help cope with the lost of my best friend and found myself and my teachers teaching me things I could not have learned in the real world. thank you and there is one person who really helped me when I was in her office being a baby for the 1st months and didn’t give up on me and had faith in me till the very end so thank you for that Ronda Nelson-IDyca and being there. other then that thank you for everything you did for me IDYCA I will never forget.” – Cadet Bernal (Blackfoot)
  • “One year ago on this exact date July 17 I decided it was time to change my life. I remember the day I got there I wanted to chicken out so badly but my parents would let me. I remember waking up at 5 I’m the morning to tow the line. I hated waking up at 5 in the morning. But as I learned with that is that you waste the day if you don’t get started early. I am so tha k for all the cadets, cadre and staff members for encouraging me. I know I woupd have given up with out it. I am so thankful I had the chance to go to the Idaho Youth Challenge Academy. I am now healthy and drug and alcohol free. I have a loving husband and a beautiful baby on the way. Thank you Idaho Youth Challenge Academy for giving me the chance to change my life. – Cadet Garner (Jerome)
  • “He sounds like a new person and looks so so much better in the pictures I see on line of him once in a while. You, the staff, and the academy were truly a God send to me and to Tony. Thank you so much for all you do for not only my son, but for all of the youth that go through your academy each and every year…thank you again and may God bless you, your loved ones, and all at the academy.” – Parent in Roberts

Feedback from Class of 2016-1 Parents, Cadets & Supporters:

  • I can officially say that this program is life changing, my son who graduated class 16-1 was going down the wrong path, I had faith he would graduate but not as much as I should have, the staff at IDYCA never gave up on him and continued to help him through this program and his rough times. Thank you for giving me a more mature responsible young man back! – Parent in Emmett
  • Canyon Springs High School“Canyon Springs High School (sister school of Idaho youth challenge academy) is sending a Thank You picture to you and your staff! Canyon Springs celebrates our students success at Idaho Youth Challenge Academy because you guys truly change lives. They come back Leaders of Their Own Lives! These posters will go up on the walls of Canyon Springs High School. Please share with the boys that we are rooting for them. Please share with them this photo! Please share with your staff this photo and that all 320 students and staff at Canyon Springs High School believes in the work you do. We already have 5 students already asking about next year. We will have more. Our staff is excited for graduation! Please share!” – Matt Strong, Vice Principal at Canyon Springs High School, Proud Supporter of Idaho Youth Challenge Academy
  • “I am a parent of a special Olympic athlete and we had regionals at Lewiston on May 21 and several of your cadets volunteered at the track and field event and they’ were awesome! So polite and helpful and positive spirits! Many of them even took turns running with my son while he was the only competitor for the mile event. I have some great photos I would like to share with your group! Thanks for making it so special. I also heard your group helped with the swimming events.” – Supporter in Lewiston
  • “I love what you do for are kids!!! My daughter is now the person she was always meant to be and its all because of the staff and this wonderful academy…Thank you all so much… I spread the word to every one…you never know what kid is in need of this!” – Parent in Boise
  • “Thank you to everyone at the IDYCA! Commencement was quite inspiring and totally fantastic today. My cadet has grown, learned, and transformed into a wonderful young lady. Your program brought healing and happiness to our family. I honestly can not thank you enough! Outstanding. – Parent in Boise
  • Going to his graduation in Boise was mind blowing! What an awesome experience! Seeing that many youth affected for the better of their lives in such a short time is nothing short of amazing! The work you guys are doing up there has got to be among the most beneficial and real programs around for helping today’s youth! I feel privileged that I was able to be a part and experience it from the perspective I was!” – Cadet Mentor

Feedback from Class of 2015-2 Parents, Cadets & Supporters:

  • Cadet SSgt Hoiland“I thank you all very much for breaking me down and making me into the strong minded physically fit man I am today, a special thanks to the Tsgts that were the everyday teachers, and the staff that helped a long the way. Thank all of you.” – Cadet Hoiland (Challis)
  • Cadet SSgt Martinez“Six months ago today i made the biggest decision of my life. I chose to come to the IDYCA where my cadre changed my life forever. They showed me how to be the adult that i am and how to take care of myself in the “real world”. I made it to the rank Cadet Staff Sergeant and it was ome of the best accomplishments i could possibly do for myself at the academy. To the new candidates: take advantage of the little things like doing physical training. Dont give up on your self, in the end you will be so proud of what you have done. Take as much information in as you can. Everything you learn here is very essential and important. I want to say thank you to all the cadre and staff for helping me to become the adult that i am today. I couldnt ask for better role models. The cadre are the real MVPs. I WILL be attending the next class during acclimation and i will show them what it means to be an IDYCA cadet. Another thank you to my class 15-2 for setting the standard for class 16-1″ – Cadet SSgt Martinez (Blackfoot)
  • Cadet SSgt Martin C.R.“I just wanted too say thank you for giving me this amazing experience. I wanna wish everyone a very happy Christmas, and wanna say good luck too next class thank you all staff and cadre who helped all of us out. Thank you for all the hard work and all the hours everyone put in too help us Thank You.” – Cadet SSgt Martin C.R. (Blackfoot)
  • “I was fortunate to be able to attend the initial processing phase with my sister and her son, who is attending the Academy. I have been following the program’s process since it started and I was so excited to witness the warm, caring welcome of the staff and how the program works. The staff will take care of the cadets as if these young people were their own. Not only did I shed tears for my nephew, but I also shed tears silently with those parents who were emotional that day as well. My emotions were based on the fact that this program offers these kids an exciting opportunity of a lifetime and knowing what they are going to endure and going to walk away with just puts me at the top of the world. I am truly excited for these young people and envious of the staff’s rewarding efforts. Good luck Cadets!!” – Supporter in Deary
  • “Dear Idaho Youth Challenge Academy, I want you to know that you have made a big difference in my son’s life. He was in class 2015-2. Thank you for all you do to help our kids become adults! Here is an essay Ethan had to write for English class:
    The Miracle Worker – 2017
    Helen was eating off her family’s plates and when she was confronted that morning by Annie she stopped. I too, like Helen was at a point of being uncontrollable and stubborn headed. Idaho Youth Challenge Academy (IDYCA) was my Annie. The experience I had at the IDYCA was that I was also blind and deaf on how to get along. What the IDYCA was to me very similar to how Annie was to Helen. The Idaho Youth Challenge Academy is an air national guard paramilitary school. This school instilled good morals and a good work ethic in me just as Annie did for Helen. I was separated from my home environment to learn new ways to cope with life and stress. The IDYCA was my Annie giving me firm direction. When I would drop some cuss words, I would get 50 burpees each word. If we were caught looking around or not at parade rest in the lunch room, we would have to eat in a squatting position. I used to sleep the whole day away but then we were woken up at 5am every morning. My experience at IDYCA was to teach me how to cope with life. I learned how to push myself to new physical limits. I learned perseverance on how to keep going when things get tough. I learned I could maintain a 4.0 GPA through hard work. IDYCA helped me to learn how to cope with stress. The school really helped and pushed me to be a better person. They opened my eyes to the fact that life is tough but your attitude can overcome it’.” – Cadet Mitchell and Parent (Twin Falls)

Feedback from Class of 2015-1 Parents and Cadets:

  • “I wanted to thank the academy. They gave me the tools to move past hardships and keep on moving. In the last 3 months my fiance and I have struggled and some aspects and lost a major part of our family. The only way I was able to move past these struggles and this loss was because the Academy gave me hope. If I had not gone to the academy I would have made it through. So I want to thank the academy for everything they did for me.” – Cadet Fritchman (Boise)
  • Cadet SSgt McMillion“Before I came to the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy, I was getting into a whole lot of trouble with the police and I was doing things that could potentially get me sent to prison for life and, it was not drugs (I was never into drugs). While, I was at the academy I decided that I wanted to play the system until I later realized that I need to get my act together or else I won’t succeed in the program. I would like to thank all of the Mtn Gems Cadre for helping me daily and pushing me towards success. If it wasn’t for the Director, Deputy, the Commandant, Master Sgt’s Bonner and Edwards, Tech Sgt’s Spencer, Nelson, Moye, Pratt, Mundlin, and Pinque. They have shown me exactly who I want to be and how I’m going to get there. I graduated with my GED. Big THANKS to the teachers for teaching me so much I know now. If I did it being one of the hardest cadets to deal with in the Mtn Gems flight, then, I am sure anybody is fully capable of doing it as well. “ – Cadet SSgt McMillion (Caldwell)
  • Cadet Valle with Governor“To ALL the Staff, Man it feels good to write letters again! HA! I hope everyone is doing well! I sure do miss the Academy! If I could come back, I would in a heart beat! Life for me is going great. I work for my mentor & am joining the Army National Guard & I am so glad to say this but MSgt. Edwards is going to be the one to swear me in! My plan is to serve for a minimum of 6 years & go to the college and major in child development then move up to gold ole’ Pierce & work as a tech sergeant! M. Lee from 14-1 is joining the same time I am & we have the same recruiter! I just want to share my appreciation to you! Each one of have blessed my life in tremendous ways. I have definitely had my trials & curve balls but they made me stronger! I would love to hear from you! I’ll be sure to send my address for basic! Thank you, again!”  – Cadet SrA Valle (Star) [Transcribed, handwritten letter received by IDYCA staff 06/30/14]
  • Cadet Ward P“This was January 20, 2015. Also the day that my life changed for the better. This picture was taken about an hour after I had said goodbye to my parents. I wouldn’t see them for another 3 months. As you all know, I was a complete wreck. I was making terrible choices and damaging my mental and physical health. Thanks to the staff at IDYCA, and the love and support from my family, an true friends, I got out of the rut I was in. It was a long 5-1/2 months but I can say I did it. I graduated from the Idaho Youth Challenge Academy on June 20th and cannot be more proud of myself. I’m clean, I’m healthy, an I’m happy. Thank you to those of you who have followed me in my journey towards recovery.” – Cadet SS Ward, P. (Caldwell)
  • SSgt Rodriguez“This is SSgt Rico Rodriguez class of 15-1. I’ve been told some of you cadets don’t believe you’re going to pass English. I thought the same going into Mrs. Therien class, not knowing how to write an essay, spell correctly, read, or even pronounce words. I gave up before trying or giving any effort. I just thought to myself, I’ll never pass this class. Frustrated and angry at myself for not knowing how to spell or read. I decided not to give up. I became motivated and dedicated to learn and pass my English class. I had to put my trust in my teacher, Mrs. Therien.  I know she did the same by not letting me quit and kept pushing me forward until I understood the problems in our homework. I got better and better every day dedicated to learn something new in class to the point I could read, write essays, spell, and pronounce words something I thought I could not do. Proud of myself that I was passing her class and didn’t need help from her anymore. That I could do it on my own. I ended up loving English and the passion of reading and writing. When I had gone on to my regular school in English class, I was good and proud that I could keep up with the other students. I wasn’t embarrassed to read in front of the class anymore or walk up in front of the class and write on the white board when my name was called on to do so because I knew how to do those things already thanks to Mrs. Therein. Sometimes I think to myself what would I have done if I never gave effort in her class, gave up or didn’t even try? I would have been still struggling and wouldn’t know how to do English. But luckily for me I do, by not giving up and pushing myself every day in class to learn. Push yourself, don’t give up! Keep going hard right over easy wrong. It will be all worth it at the end trust me. You got a great teacher to help you accomplish English. Use her tools and learn how to pass her class. Believe in yourself that you can do it and your already half way there. Dedicated and motivation to learning is the key to get yourself better! If I can do it you all can do it. Giving up is not a option here, success is.” – Cadet SSgt Rodriguez (Caldwell)

Feedback from Class of 2014-2 Parents and Cadets:

  • “In December it’ll be 2 years since I got my HS diploma. 2 years since I left my second home. 2 years and I’m still going back to visit!!!! I couldn’t express my gratitude towards The Idaho Youth Challenge Academy/ Staff in words if I wanted. Not only did you guys help me graduate, you taught me so much more. You taught me self value, taught me how to persevere, also showed me how not to waste my life AND TIME on things that simply won’t matter in a couple weeks. The caring staff/ cadre gave me the second chance I needed at life and I’m forever grateful.❤” – Cadet Sakpraseuth (Boise)
  • Cadet Battson Success“Within three days I have already got a job opportunity to be a flagger for traffic! I will have to take a 2 week long class but it will be worth it. It’s a federal and at times state job but the average pay rate is 10- 16 and hour for state job, and 30-34 and hour for a federal job. I am excited! Thank you IDYCA for changing and forming me into the man that I have always knew i was and that I could have been. Happy holidays!” – Cadet Battson (Boise)
  • On behalf of Cadet DeBusk’s family, we want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the staff of Idaho Youth Challenge Academy for all your hard work and dedication in making a difference in his life. Your leadership is remarkable and inspiring! Your enthusiasm and your ability to motivate your cadets are beyond amazing. The time he spent at the academy has been a life changing experience for him. We are in awe with his attitude and demeanor during his home visit. Keep up the good work and thank you very much!” – Keuang Q. (Kuna)
  • Cadet Lee Success“Hey I just wanted to give a shout out to TSGT Pratt! TSGT if it wasn’t for you sir I would have gone home. You helped me out more than any cadre there. Thank you TSGT Pratt.
    Thank you IDYCA for all you have done for me. You guys have no idea how much it has helped me. Thank you.” – Cadet Lee (Caldwell)
  • Hi my name is Brooke Glenn. I am currently a cadet at the IDYCA — airman first class. I am on a home pass it is amazing how much the academy has changed me. I am a whole new person; being home has made me realize how amazing the academy is. I could not be more thankful for this place I thank God everyday for this amazing opportunity.” – Cadet Glenn
  • Cadet Ellis Success“Thank you for everything you guys have done for me. I would not be where I am or who I am today if it weren’t for the academy. although I never want to go back, I’m so glad that I spent 5 months in pierce. I am now wiser and older than when I came, and so ready for life. I’m a squared away individual and my life could not be better, thank you and good luck next cycle!” – Cadet Ellis (Nampa)
  • “Thanks to my confidence and work ethic I gained at IDYCA, I really was able to jump start my life in a big way. I moved out a week after graduating the academy. I work around 55 hours a week at 2 different jobs, Taco Time and Walgreens. I pay rent and all of my own bills, I just received my drivers license. I amateur DJ for small parties and a local hookah bar here in Nampa. I do stand up comedy every Wednesday at Liquid Lounge in Boise. I have an amazing girlfriend, I eat right, and lost a ton more weight (I’m 165lbs now) and I still work out often. I go to church every Sunday and bible study every week. I’m going to LA for a possible internship with one of my favorite Hip Hop producers, Salva, later next month, they even offered to fly me out. Being able to have excellent customer service, perform comedy in front of 70+ people, and take the chances I do in life takes courage, I was never this out going and confident before IDYCA. Growing up in high school I had only 2 or 3 people, I could truly call my Friends. Now I have tons of people, around 15 people I can truly say Will be my best friends for life. I love life right now, it’s only getting better from here. Thank you IDYCA, you definitely made a huge positive impact in my life, tough love is what we all need In life sometimes. :D” – Cadet Staff Sergeant Smith (Nampa)
  • Cadet Shields SuccessI wanted to write you this letter to tell you “THANK YOU.” Without this program I don’t know where I would be in life. With all the hard times and bad days at the academy, I sure do miss HOME!!! The greatest thing that could ever happen to me was walking across that stage at graduation. It was the best thing I could have ever done to better not only myself but give encouragement to others because we all know I almost didn’t make it. I want to thank all of you for not giving up on me and pushing me to succeed. Thanks to MSgt Edwards. I live by his quote, “Hard right over the easy wrong.” Without this quote I don’t know how to function. I am way more patient and outgoing person because of this academy. Almost every day I tell my mom that if I could I would come back home. But she won’t let me. L I miss all of you really bad. But I am thankful to still be a part fo the academy as an Ambassador. Thank you IDYCA for making me the woman I am today. Gems “Never Back Down” – Cadet Shields (Boise)

Feedback from Class of 2014-1 Parents and Cadets:

  • Cadets Fenstemacher & Sharp“The challenge changed me and made me realize what respect really is. To myself and others. Without the academy I probably wouldn’t be alive today. So with that being said the academy was the best decision my mom ever made. I was mad at first but looking back I’m grateful she did this for me. Thank you to all the staff for putting up with everything you have, are, and will put up with. You guys are amazing people. Thank you for giving people a second chance.” – Cadet Sharp (Cottonwood)
  • “My son Tyler is in the first class and is already making a difference his family are all proud of him first challenges and for his future! Where grateful for every one of the staff member and everything they devote to this class we are glad it’s here and he has a chance to better himself due to this class thank you the dante family.” – Leslie D. (Coeur d’Alene)
  • Cadet Fenstermacher“This program has changed my life for the better. I find myself being more respectful, doing things the first time I’m told, and I try my hardest now in everything I do. I’m a high school graduate, and now I’m shooting for my goals that I know I can succeed. All because you pushed me to maintain excellence. You pushed me to become more than i thought i was. Other than me still reaching in to my nonexistent cargo pockets for my cover (after a week) when I walk outside, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am proud to say that I was an Idaho youth challeNGe cadet.” – Cadet Fenstermacher (Salmon)
  • Cadet Turner“I’m a member of the first graduating class, all i can say is thank you to everyone who is involved with this program. If you are browsing the page and are interested in the program i highly recommend it. Its not easy and a challenge for a reason but i can honestly say that it has changed my life and given me my last ever needed second chance… Thank you IDYCA” – Cadet Turner (Coeur d’Alene)
  • “My son has made a huge turn around. He didn’t like doing anything unless he wanted to. Now I see a young man with pride in himself. He walks taller and has self confidence. He let me know that I tried everything I could. But, now he knows that he had to choose to change, to make a difference. He said he sorry and that it wasn’t my fault that he chose to rebel. Now I see the man I know he is supposed to be. Thank you NGYCP. You guys are great.” – Tracy L. (Harrison)
  • Cadet Jean Blanc“I am apart of the IDYCA and I am a better man for going” – Cadet Jean Blanc (Harrison)
  • “The changes I have seen in these young men and women in a short amount of time is amazing. I would recommend any parent dealing with a teenager that needs to turn their life around look into this program.” – Dani M. (Caldwell)
  • “Our very best wishes to all the cadets who worked so hard to achieve this milestone toward making their dreams reality! Also, there is no way for us to express enough appreciation for the IDYCA staff who made such an amazing difference in our boy’s life over the past 5 months. You folks are truly changing young lives, and we are so thankful for you all.” Rand and Jodi K. (Moscow)
  • Cadet SS Spence“I would like to personally thank each and every single one of you (staff members and cadre). It was a blessing and an honor to be one of the graduating cadets through the first class of Idaho. Each one of you helped me in any way possible. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for all of you. You all had a big roll in my life not only that but also role models to me. I could of just posted on facebook but to me this means more. The amount of time you put in for us is incredible and something I’ll never forget. I use to follow in the footsteps of others now I’m making my own way. It hasn’t even been a full week away and I already miss it. I still use pretty much the same schedule from the Academy to the best of my abilities. Still run 3-8 miles a night. I would also like to thank you for helping me get my GED. I’ve tried for 3 years. I finally have it. I looked at my last school GPA and it is 0.118. Now I’m at a 3.4. Incredible change. Things are going good so far, they will only be as good as I make them. I sure do miss Tsgt Frye’s bedtime stories and all the other Cadre. It was tearful for me to leave. I want to come back, do a little follow up on the new cadets. I know one coming….Smoke him. I taught him stuff for before he leaves so he should be ready. Other than that, I thank you all again from the bottom of my heart” – Cadet SS Spence (Emmett) – [Transcribed, handwritten letter received by IDYCA staff 06/30/14]
  • Cadet Litz Success“Some days I wake up wishing I was at the academy. I miss it a lot. And all the wonderful people. Even the.ones I disrespected and.I feel bad I’m sorry Thanks everyone for everything you have done or said to me to brighten my day realize I was headed the wrong direction. You guys made my life New. Thanks everyone and have a awesome bright year:) love and miss you all from idyca.” – Cadet Litz (Eagle)