Developing young leaders the hard way: Cullman County camp offers military-style training for teens

XMC Photo

BATTLEGROUND – A 75-acre camp located near Battleground in eastern Cullman County, known as Camp Liberty, offers a youth leadership development program known as "Extreme Military Challenge" (XMC)  The summer, holiday and weekend program, which operated for years on the campus of Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama, relocated to the former Stoney Creek Christian Camp (15719 Alabama Highway 157 in Battleground) in September 2016 in order to develop its course offerings beyond what was available in the borrowed facilities of MMI.

XMC is a program of Maryland-based Liberty Communications LLC, and both the corporation and program are headed up by President/Col. Joseph Land Sr.  Liberty Communications offers leadership development and career services, along with other organizational support services to service members, veterans and government agencies. 

XMC offers team-building programs for corporate teams, but its main focus is military-style leadership development for teens ages 13-18.  Its staff members, many military or former military, describe their offerings as "the most challenging and realistic military training programs available to cadets. Perfect for the young person who is interested in exploring – first-hand – the military lifestyle."  Their stated mission is "to provide young people with a realistic exposure to uniformed service, allowing them the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding their future."

Land described the XMC program and its participants: "XMC is a career exploration program for young people 13 to 18: good kids, crime-free, drug-free and have the ability to do well in school.  The realism, the quality of the facilities, the level of qualification of the staff–everything we do is as real and as high quality as we can possibly provide.  There's just nothing like it."

XMC may sound like an ROTC program, and many cadets do come to the camp; but the program is open to any youth looking for a little adventure and the opportunity to test and develop themselves.  Its training offerings include certain aspects of military basic training, marksmanship, wilderness survival, rappelling, physical fitness, teamwork and team leadership.  Advanced programs even offer students SCUBA certification and credits toward a pilot's license.

XMC is currently holding its winter Cadet Tactical Skills Training course at Camp Liberty.  with a small group of 20 experienced cadets and instructors, the week-long program keeps its participants constantly outdoors, and features medical and survival skills along with simulated combat.  Cadets are learning about common injuries in winter settings, and are building fires and shelters while watching their kits of available tools shrink each day.  By the end of the course, cadets should be able to shelter and warm themselves with no modern equipment at their disposal.

Assisting in this course is U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) Jared Duncan, a graduate of XMC.  In an interview provided by XMC, he said of the program, "It helped me make my decision to join the Army.  All the experiences I had: all the training, all the instructors, just learning so much; it helped me get ready to join the Army.  I joined in 2015, and I just felt greatly prepared with the great help of XMC."

For more information visit "Extreme Military Challenge" on Facebook, or the website


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