Mississippi

Mississippi
PRICING 
Jun 27 to Jul 14
$3,950
Jul 19 to Jul 30
$3,250
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 

Coastal Mississippi, home to long-established African-American communities and lively Cajun traditions, has a captivating soft beauty and welcoming spirit. VISIONS Mississippi has worked with the Turkey Creek community since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, and we are one of the few volunteer groups still returning. Service includes environmental and construction projects, our friends and neighbors invite us to take part in local traditions, and we explore the bayou and beaches, and spend a day in New Orleans.

Welcomed Service

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Turkey Creek was the site of numerous historic homes and minority-run businesses. Residents had been working hard to obtain historic preservation status and build affordable housing. Now, the community is fighting to survive. Since 2006 and initially in response to Katrina, VISIONS teens have accomplished impressive service in Mississippi: environmental walkways, a 50’ footbridge, and a green-certified outdoor classroom where Robert Kennedy Jr. named one of our partners as the nation’s new Waterkeeper. Our volunteers also have planted trees, developed a community garden, and repaired homes damaged by Katrina. Partnerships with the Audubon Society and a local land trust are the heart of this high-quality summer program.

Full Immersion

We live in a warm and welcoming community with people who have preserved a culture handed down through the generations. Our closest liaisons are Mark LaSalle, Director of Pascagoula Audubon, whose Cajun hospitality and endless knowledge of coastal ecosystems delights us; and Rose Johnson, a fearless local advocate whose ancestors are among Turkey Creek’s first residents. Derrick Evans, also from a long Turkey Creek lineage, gives compelling accounts of Turkey Creek’s history and its position as a protective wetland. You’ll go to fish fries at the home of Flowers White and attend barbecues complete with live music and tall Southern tales. Days are jam-packed and lively, and you will gain a real feel for life in Coastal Mississippi.

"One of the best experiences I've had was my summer in Mississippi. Kids and leaders were great, and it was so rewarding when the community thanked us for the projects."

Anna Vanderwende – Bozeman, Montana
Our Home Base 
Moss Point
Turkey Creek is a coastal community rooted in African-American history. Settled in 1866 by recently emancipated slaves, the area now known as Turkey Creek was a vibrant, self-sufficient neighborhood with farms, homesteads and the first African-American school in the region. Its location on the “other side of the swamp” kept it insulated until recently, with developers trying to stake claim and residents trying to preserve this culturally and ecologically important area.
VISIONS program on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast began the summer of 2006 as a direct response to Hurricane Katrina and the massive cleanup efforts. The effects of the natural disaster remain evident today, and our teens work every summer toward environmental and community regeneration. VISIONS is one of the only groups that has maintained a volunteer presence, and relationships with the community has only grown deeper. Teens have a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about environmental and social justice—issues that are present across the globe, and very real in North Gulfport and Turkey Creek.
Explore Mississippi

You'll fish on the bayou and take a flatboat spin to try crabbing. We spend a day in New Orleans, explore Dauphin Island beaches, and discover coastal backwoods by canoe and kayak. Throw in a beach barbeque with local friends, and it’s sure to be a summer to remember.

Daily Life

Our home in Mississippi is a community center located in the heart of the Turkey Creek neighborhood. It’s equipped with everything we need to make it our temporary home.

We go to work five days a week, ending mid- to late afternoon, and with a few projects to choose from each day. You will usually be on a construction or building crew, but there also are some environmental and social service projects. Once a week you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew prepares breakfast for everyone, runs errands and buys food for the next meals, does laundry, cleans our living space, helps our dinner cook if needed, and enjoys a “day in the life” of Turkey Creek.

After work ends each day there is time for nearby outings, activities in the neighborhood, playing with local kids, and sometimes a bit of downtime before dinner. In addition to afternoon activities, there are full-day excursions. The second, shorter session includes most of the same activities as the first session but with more condensed timeframes.

Meals include vegetarian and meat options, and always with enough for seconds. A few times a week, we have meetings in the evening to talk through the volunteer and exchange experience.

Unlike a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary, we settle into our homebase and are part of local happenings. The itineraries provide highlights of our time in Mississippi.

Itinerary

June 27
June 28
July 4
July 5
July 10
July 12
July 13
July 14
July 18
July 19
July 22
July 25
July 28
July 29
Arrivals to Gulfport
Orientation & Worksite Training
Flowers’ Annual Cajun Cookout
Swamp Tour with Audubon
Day Trip to New Orleans
Afternoon Canoeing
Community Goodbye Dinner
Departures from Gulfport
Arrivals to Gulfport
Orientation & Worksite Training
Afternoon Swamp Tour
Day Trip to New Orleans
Community Goodbye Dinner
Departures from Gulfport

More Details

Staff leaders receive each student upon arrival at the Biloxi airport. Leaders also see each participant off from the airport at the end of the program.
Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
We live together as a group, and boys and girls sleep in separate areas. VISIONS provides thick floor mattress, and participants bring their own sheets and pillow.
VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.
Securing a space requires applying and being accepted, and paying the $800 tuition deposit. There is no deadline to apply, but program spaces do fill. We also encourage applying early in order to secure a flight and prepare for the program.
Teen volunteers in Mississippi I receive 60 community service hours; Mississippi II: 40 service hours. Youth summer camp program for ages 14 – 18.
In addition to VISIONS high school summer program in Montana, we offer a middle school travel and service program for ages 12 – 14 on the Montana Northern Cheyenne Reservation. 14 year-olds may choose between high school and middle school programs.
Program Director
Mississippi I & II

NOT QUITE READY?

Our staff loves to assist! We are happy to answer questions and discuss the program locations with you.