Summer Programs High School
June 28 – July 25 • $5,350 • 100 Service Hours
August 1 – August 21 • $4,350 • 75 Service Hours
America's fourth largest state is home to fewer than one million people. Montana is vast prairies and rangelands, golden fields of grain and mountain wilderness – all with the Big Sky overhead. Spectacular sunsets and clear, starry nights are guaranteed. Montana also is home to seven Plains Indian reservations, semi-sovereign nations with distinctive history.
OUR HOME BASE:
Our home base on the Blackfeet Reservation borders Glacier National Park and Canada. It is a place of power and beauty. We live outside Browning, the reservation’s governmental center with a population of about fifteen thousand people.
With few exceptions, reservations lack adequate housing and the social resources that other U.S. communities take for granted. Indian tribes have the highest percentage of Americans living below the poverty line. Much of our service is carpentry-focused, although we always engage in non-construction projects, too. For two decades VISIONS has collaborated with the Blackfeet Head Start, Blackfeet Community Development Corporation, and Blackfeet Land Trust, a unique partnership between the Nature Conservancy and Blackfeet Nation that is a model land conservation program for other tribes seeking to preserve their lands. Our youth volunteers have built playgrounds, sheds, fences, sports fields, and pow wow arbors. Other projects include environmental work at the Land Trust and working with the Department of Housing to assist with repairs on elders' homes.
MONTANA SERVICE PROJECTS
VISIONS Montana is a window to the generosity, humor, and traditions of Plains Indian life. Our twenty-plus years working on the reservation create opportunities to learn about the culture from the inside. You will meet tribal historians, spiritual leaders, storytellers, ranchers and naturalists. From our home base at Flat Iron Ranch with a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountain front, you will explore Browning, join in sweat ceremonies, go to a rodeo, learn beading with Blackfeet craftspeople, and maybe help build a sacred sun dance lodge. We’ll attend the summer pow wow, an annual inter-tribal gathering when families set up teepees, renew connections, and celebrate with music, storytelling and meals. You’ll see spectacular regalia (traditional clothing), watch dancing competitions and stick games, hear drumming, and eat “Indian Tacos” made from fry bread.
"We went to a sweat, a pow wow, a sun dance...we built teepees!
This was amazing."
Ella Chochrek – White Plains, New York
Summer adventures in Montana are a blend of the cultural activities on the Indian reservation, and also taking advantage of the great outdoors. You will do an overnight backpacking trip, challenge yourself in an introductory rock climb, explore Glacier National Park, and travel on "Going to the Sun" highway on the way to Lake Koocanusa. You will go horseback riding, swim in the cool rivers, visit the historic Glacier Lodge, and more.
- Summer leaders receive students at the Great Falls airport and then travel 2 hours in van to Browning. Airfare is not included, but VISIONS assists with travel plans.
- High school volunteers and leaders live together at the Flat Iron Ranch, about five miles outside of Browning. It is basic living, but not camping. There are showers, several regularly-cleaned porta-pots and an indoor bathroom, kitchen, common areas, and one of the most beautiful backdrops you can imagine.
- Boys and girls sleep in separate areas. VISIONS provides floor mattresses and you will bring your own sheets, pillow, and sleeping bag. Laundry is done once a week.
- You typically choose your service project four days a week and spend the other day on “homebase” crew, cooking breakfast and running errands for the group.
- Weekends are for excursions and many afternoons after work are for closer-to-home activities. A few nights a week we meet to discuss our volunteer and cross-cultural experiences.
- Details such as summer packing lists, travel parameters, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through your own login web pages. The process is straightforward and we also are here to help.
- Montana I: 100 community service hours; Montana II: 75 community service hours.