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The New Guard

MIDDLE SCHOOLERS: Take On The ‘Reagan Resilience Challenge’ With YAF

By

Nick Baker

April 12, 2024

Young America’s Foundation is proud to introduce an innovative addition to our next Middle School Expedition: the “Reagan Resilience Challenge.” Set to launch on May 3-4, 2024, amidst the historic surroundings of President Ronald Reagan’s Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois, this component promises to enhance a transformative experience for students in grades 6-8.

The Reagan Resilience Challenge is modeled after what the Army calls a Leadership Reaction Course. Students will encounter challenges based on real-world scenarios such as delivering medical supplies to a village in need when the access bridge is out. Each challenge has an objective, obstacles, personnel requirements, and limited supplies to accomplish the mission. Students will break into small groups to problem solve and creatively attack each challenge. Challenge guides will score teams based on individuals exhibiting qualities that make great leaders such as courage, resilience, humility, determination, responsibility, and optimism. Students will have fun, form friendships, and create lasting memories through this interactive learning experience.

For more than 60 years, YAF has inspired young minds with the principles of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values through high school and college programs. Now, YAF offers middle school programs in a first-of-its-kind initiative to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of students. 

This leadership course, inspired by the Leadership Reaction Course from military training, challenges students with problem-solving scenarios that cultivate the determination, optimism, and leadership traits of Ronald Reagan. Participants will also tour Reagan’s Boyhood Home, deepening their appreciation of the ideals that underpin American prosperity and freedom.

The Middle School Expedition goes beyond traditional learning, offering historical tours, interactive educational sessions, and mentorship from renowned educators such as Dr. Paul Kengor, Dr. Michael Clark, and Kali Fontanilla. These activities cultivate a deep respect for the foundational values represented by YAF and Reagan’s enduring legacy.

Chris Johnson, a retired Special Forces Green Beret and mentor of the challenge, highlights the unique nature of the program: “This challenge is more than an obstacle course; it’s a foundation for wisdom and values that will guide students to success in all walks of life.” Tawny Kilpper, YAF’s Middle School Program Director, expresses enthusiasm for the initiative: “We’re thrilled to offer an experience that instills the values of hard work, resilience, and determination, continuing President Reagan’s legacy.”

For more details about the Middle School Expedition and registration information, please visit this registration page.


Feel free to reach out with any questions! 

Tawny Kilpper, Middle School Program Director

Young America’s Foundation, (805) 957-1980, [email protected]



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