The Montana Cheyenne Reservation in Southeastern Montana is home to the VISIONS Northern Passage middle school camp during this summer community service program. Middle school-aged volunteers will earn 40 service hours working on age-appropriate projects that focus on construction, carpentry and social services. Participants will work with the tribe elders and the children of the Cheyenne Reservation. Free time will be spent experiencing the strong community traditions, participating in the annual powwow, and backpacking through the Bighorn Mountains.
Our service on the Northern Cheyenne is a great blend of building projects, assisting elders, and working with children through the Kids Kollege program. You will learn how to use carpentry tools for projects such as constructing picnic tables for schools, renovating playgrounds, and helping on home repairs. We serve lunches at the Senior Center, which has become a wonderful partnership and beloved project. Another favorite is working with the summer camp, Kids Kollege, where we are both participants and facilitators for younger children on outdoor activities, art and crafts.
One of our partners: Kids Kollege is an educational summer camp for children on the reservation. Facilitated by Dull Knife College, this youth program focuses on healthy living initiatives, environmental education, literacy, art and crafts.
There are constant opportunities to explore and learn about Northern Cheyenne culture, to mix and mingle with community members, and hear stories about traditional ways of life that are still ever-present on the reservation. Our longtime Cheyenne friends often make fry bread and berry pudding with us, teach us how to do simple traditional beading, and even find time to spot the tribe's buffalo herd during its summer grazing. We also will visit St. Labre Mission in Ashland, one of the largest and most active Indian Schools in the West.
"I one hundred percent enjoyed everything. The projects were rewarding and a lot of fun. This trip was truly an amazing experience from start to finish."
We backpack and hike in beautiful mountains, swim in cool streams, visit the nearby Western coal town of Colstrip, and even visit Little Bighorn Battlefield, famous site of Custer’s Last Stand.
Our group lives together in a family-like setting at the Head Start school in Lame Deer. There are showers and bathrooms, kitchen facilities, a big backyard with picnic tables, and gender-separated rooms with a thick floor mattress for each person.
We work hard five days a week at the service projects, but we keep the work hours a bit shorter than our high school counterparts. Participants typically get to choose between two different worksites each day, and then the entire group gets to help with Kids Kollege in the early afternoons. There also are “homebase crew” rotations with a few kids and a leader. The crew helps make breakfast, runs errands and goes to the small grocery store to get food for the next meals, cleans, and enjoys in a “day in the life”.
Afternoons after work are for cultural and recreation activities. We go swimming, take hikes and learn about the native plants, spend time with neighbors, go on rez tours and see the tribe’s buffalo herd, and also get time to play and have fun before dinner. A few nights a week, we have group meetings to reflect on and talk about the volunteer and cultural experience.
In addition to afternoon activities, we have full-day excursions. An overnight backpacking trip and visit to the renowned Little Bighorn Battlefield are two highlights.