Local student finds success at MT Youth Challenge

Samantha Hill

Embracing a structured schedule and a leadership role, a Livingston student succeeded during the Montana Youth Challenge, claiming many awards and prizes.

Twice a year, multiple Park County and other Montana students head to the MYC campus in Dillon to learn about discipline, leadership and possible future prospects in a quasi-military environment.

Zade Swanson, of Livingston, was one of the students who completed the most recent session of the 22-week course, taking with him more than just experience — he got 10 of the 11 possible honors given by the organization.

MYC Marketing Coordinator Ron Carroll said it is unusual for one person to receive so many awards. However, from the beginning it seemed as though Swanson was the one to take them home.

Swanson said he joined the challenge because he really enjoys a structured environment, it offers credits that will help him graduate more quickly from Park High School, and he wants to be a part of the military when he gets out of school.
Initially, he was a little nervous about entering into a new environment with so many other high-schoolers he didn’t know.

“I thought, ‘What am I getting myself in to?’” he said.

But soon he began taking on a role of helping others as they eased into the new type of learning and he found himself getting ahead of the pack, joining the color guard program and succeeding at the physical fitness portion of the school.

“It was pretty simple for me, and I just tried to do everything to the best of my ability,” Swanson said.

However, Carroll thought he did exceptionally well at everything and both cadets and the staff had nothing but nice things to say about him at the end of the session.

Carroll said the goal of the program is to reinforce good decision-making and actions with awards such as T-shirts, more phone time and larger living quarters while they are with MYC.

Swanson won Cadet of the Month, a physical fitness award, and several leadership awards while he was there.

Swanson, who just completed his junior year, said he plans to graduate early this coming year and eventually go into the military. He hopes to join the Army’s airborne infantry but thinks the Marine Corps would be OK too.

Carroll said he hopes seeing someone like Swanson do so well with MYC will inspire others to consider the program as a possible direction for high school students.