Empowering Growth Through Challenge By Choice

At Momentum, we are committed to the transformative potential of the Challenge by Choice approach. Our program is crafted to empower individuals to confront challenges, uncover their strengths, and nurture personal growth within a supportive environment and on their own terms. We find that Challenge By Choice creates the greatest opportunity for long-term success.

What is Challenge By Choice?

Challenge By Choice is an approach to experiential therapy and learning designed to empower participants to engage with challenges at a pace that feels right for them. This method promotes autonomy in the decision-making process, inviting the individual to take the lead on their own path to wellness and personal growth.

Self-Awareness & Communication Skills:

By participating in activities at their own pace and comfort level, young adults develop understanding around and learn to recognize their own limitations, strengths, and areas for growth. This heightened self-awareness allows them to make more informed decisions, set goals, navigate challenges, and communicate boundaries more effectively.

The collaborative nature of the Challenge By Choice approach fosters opportunities for interpersonal communication and collaboration among group members. Through discussions about individual comfort levels, boundaries, and preferences, young adults learn to express themselves clearly and assertively, while also respecting the perspectives of others.

Personal Autonomy & Self-Confidence:

The autonomy granted in the Challenge By Choice approach empowers young adults to make decisions regarding their own level of participation and engagement. Through this process, they hone their decision-making skills, weighing risks and benefits and considering their own boundaries and preferences.

By taking ownership of their participation and progress, young adults experience a boost in self-confidence and their sense of responsibility.

As they set and achieve personal goals and overcome challenges, they gain a sense of accomplishment and belief in their abilities.

Emotional Regulation & Resilience:

Engaging in challenges at a pace that feels right for them allows young adults to build resilience gradually and practice healthy emotional regulation. By facing and overcoming obstacles in a supportive environment, they learn to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and persevere in the face of adversity. They learn to manage stress, anxiety, and other challenging emotions in a healthy manner, ultimately leading to greater emotional resilience and well-being.

Finding Balance Between The Comfort Zone & The Growth Zone

By allowing individuals to navigate challenges at their own pace, Challenge by Choice naturally leads participants into their “growth zone”—a space where learning and development occur outside the comfort zone but within the bounds of what feels manageable.

In our Comfort Zone, we are unchallenged.

In our Comfort Zones, we feel safe with low risk and minimal potential for consequence. At best, our Comfort Zone is a space that can aid in regulation, where we can rest and gather strength before or after a challenge.

However, if we stay too long in our Comfort Zone, we may become complacent or unmotivated to change. This could look like using unhealthy ways of self-soothing or coping, such as distracting or avoiding challenges through technology, sleeping, or substances.

In our Growth Zone, we are actively and intentionally undertaking challenges.

In the Growth Zone, also referred to as the stretch zone, we are able to regulate the thoughts, emotions, and sensations we may experience. Yes, there are some risks and the potential for consequences in this zone, yet we have the skills and tools to navigate these safely. Individuals who operate in their Growth Zone are often matched with feelings of excitement, increased energy, and motivation.

People experience peak performance when there is a moderate level of stress, so the Growth Zone is the space in which we are most able to learn and grow. Here, we can safely begin to take risks, be vulnerable, be curious/open/flexible, ask for help, and be receptive to empathy or support from others.

In our Flood Zone, we move out of a regulated state.

In the Flood Zone, sometimes known as the panic zone, we are no longer able to process the thoughts and feelings that are arising from the challenge, and we move more towards automatic reactions and fight/flight/freeze tendencies. The challenges we face here are perceived as high risk and likely to have consequences, and this overwhelms our ability to cope.

Dysregulation may look external (defensiveness or aggression, hypervigilance, impulsive or unsafe behaviors) or internal (ruminating thoughts, avoidance or refusal, isolation or withdrawal).

Our Focus: Finding the Right Balance

In order to navigate these different zones and make decisions that support healthy emotional regulation and growth, individuals need to know their own boundaries and limits. Through the Challenge by Choice approach, Momentum creates a learning environment where each student learns to recognize when the pressure has become too great, developing strategies to care for themselves and navigate relationships in a way that allows them to manage the stress.

Key Principles of Momentum's Challenge By Choice Approach

Voluntary Participation

We encourage participants to engage voluntarily in a range of optional nature-based activities (see a list of potential activities below). The choice to participate is always in the hands of the individual.


Respect for Comfort Zones

We understand everyone has different comfort levels, and we respect these differences. By creating an environment that encourages individuals to explore at their own pace, each participant's unique journey is honored.


Empowerment and Ownership

Participants take charge of their experience by making choices that align with their personal goals. This sense of ownership fosters a deeper connection to the learning process.


Expanding Comfort Zones

While honoring personal boundaries, Momentum encourages individuals to stretch beyond their comfort zones. Growth often occurs when we challenge ourselves in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

Two Students Looking At A Map


Our program is designed to accommodate diverse abilities and skill levels, ensuring that everyone can participate and contribute to the collective experience.


Fostering Trust and Team Building

Trust is foundational in our community. Through collaborative challenges, participants build trust with themselves, our staff, and their peers, creating a strong foundation for personal development.


Learning through Reflection

We emphasize the importance of reflective learning. Participants are encouraged to reflect on their choices, experiences, and the valuable lessons gained from the challenges they choose to undertake—as well as those they opt out of.


Positive Reinforcement

We celebrate individual and group achievements, reinforcing the idea that every challenge met, regardless of its level, contributes to the overall growth journey.


Grow At Momentum Through Our Challenge By Choice Activities

Find an expanse of activity opportunities on our beautiful 800-acre campus and at State and National forests and parks just minutes off-campus:


You can enjoy hiking on our 800-acre property as well as in Dupont State Forest, adjacent to our campus and host to 86 miles of trails and several waterfalls. Longer expedition hikes take place on permitted trails throughout Pisgah National Forest.


Our trout-stocked lake allows you to learn and practice fishing through most of the year.

Equine Rehabilitation

At Momentum, you can work with our Equine Specialist to practice verbal and non-verbal communication skills in equine rehabilitation sessions.


Develop skills on Lake Luellen, our on-campus lake, to get ready for optional extended canoe trips on lakes like South Carolina’s Lake Jocassee!

Outdoor Skills

Skills like fire-making teach you resourcefulness, perseverance, and independence.


Momentum’s extensive course areas in the Pisgah National Forest provide over 500,000 acres to explore! Plan an optional 2-day backpacking trip with our community.

Mountain Biking

You’ll get to learn mountain bike fundamentals and explore nearby trails in Dupont State Forest, a nationally known biking destination.

Rock Climbing

Local business partner Brevard Rock Gym encourages you to challenge yourself and gain confidence indoors while our rock-climbing coordinator will lead you on stunning outdoor climbing trips!