Alpine Winter Gap Program

28 + 9 Days

Ages 17 to 23
Sustainable Living & Winter Recreation

ALPINE WINTER GAP PROGRAM
28 DAYS | TUITION $6,500
JANUARY 10
 to FEBRUARY 7 
+
*9 DAYS WFR ADD-ON | TUITION $1,800
FEBRUARY 7 to FEBRUARY 15

ALPINE WINTER GAP PROGRAM
28 DAYS | TUITION $6,500
JANUARY 10 to FEBRUARY 7
+
*9 DAYS WFR ADD-ON | TUITION $1,800
FEBRUARY 7 to FEBRUARY 15

Winter Gap Overview

Join a community of fellow Gap students at a historic Montana ranch in the foothills of the Bridger Mountains. Learn homesteading and food production skills while accomplishing hands-on projects such as working in greenhouses, helping with farm animals and renovating ranch infrastructure as it moves toward an environmentally sustainable future. Prepare local foods and take cooking classes. Delve into topics such as soil regeneration, carbon drawdown, and land and wildlife conservation while also performing important volunteer work to support a healthy community. Participate in a three-day ski or snowboard instructor program and complete a level 1 avalanche course. Recreate in the Montana backcountry on skis or snowshoes and learn about microhabitat selection and wildlife ecology. Experience the quiet solace of alpine landscapes blanketed in snow while exploring the ways in which local flora, fauna and people adapt for Rocky Mountain winters.

*Add a 9-day Wilderness First Responder Course to the end of Alpine Winter Gap to become a certified WFR.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Below is an itinerary for the VISIONS Alpine Winter Gap Program. The actual schedule may vary to accommodate community needs, weather and impromptu opportunities.

 

 

January 10
Welcome to Montana

Welcome to Gallatin Valley, Montana! Settle into your home away from home on a historic Montana ranch, located ten minutes from downtown Bozeman. Nestled under  alpine peaks, you will adjust to rhythms of ranch life in the winter, participate in team building activities and get to know your fellow participants, leaders and the “Codes of the West.”

January 11
Orientation

Draft your goals for the experience ahead, discuss leadership roles, expedition behavior, shared responsibility and winter lifestyle. Relax and enjoy your new home that is a place to be yourself in a supportive environment.

January 12-14
Junior Instructor Ski Program

Interested in gaining the skills to teach skiing or snowboarding (or just learning how to nordic or downhill ski!)? Students will participate in the Junior Instructor Program, sponsored by the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). Learn what it’s like to work as an instructor and complete this nationally-recognized certificate program. The alternative options during this time are to learn how to downhill or nordic ski, snowshoe, ice skate, or all of the above!

January 15-17
Community Service

Participate in volunteer activities including working with the adaptive ski and snowboard center. Students will also package food for individuals in need and help a local nonprofit that serves Native American reservations throughout Montana.

January 18-21
Food Systems, Agriculture & Land Use 

Delve into important questions such as how we can reduce the pressures on ecosystems and land while still meeting the demands of food security. Students will travel to a ranch in Paradise Valley (the original entrance to Yellowstone National Park) to learn about regenerative agriculture practices, soil regeneration and agroecosytems. You will also work with our neighbors, Gallatin Valley Botanical Farms, to discover the benefits of conservation agriculture and lend a hand in community food production by working in year-round greenhouses. One day will also be spent at the Bozeman Community Food Bank, where you will participate in poverty simulations to discuss food security.

January 22
Farm to Table 

Take all that you have learned about food systems to the table! Create food fusion cuisine with a local chef. Prepare wild game with Master Hunters who are passionate about utilizing all parts of the animal. Travel to the North Bridger Bison Ranch to witness a bison harvest and field dressing performed with honor for the animal and the land that supported it. That night optionally enjoy bison meat for dinner, evermore connected to your food and to the land.

January 25-27
Avalanche Education 

Participate in a three-day course to gain skills for safe backcountry travel. Students will travel to a variety of mountainous locations in the Gallatin Valley to understand different snowpacks in a comprehensive environmental classroom. The Level 1 course follows national guidelines set by the American Avalanche Association (AAA) and students will receive a certificate upon completion.

January 28-31
Homesteading & Sustainable Living in the Modern World

Get hands-on experience working with local materials to help build a sustainable ranch. Help with construction projects and renovations while learning the fundamentals of energy efficiency and longevity. Participants will also plan composting methods for the ranch and observe water and sunlight patterns in order to design future homesteading models. You will discuss, evaluate and develop green concepts on a local level that provides the building blocks towards a sustainable world.

February 1-3
Wildlife Ecology & Microhabitat Selection 

Hit the road and travel south into the Gallatin Canyon to Jack Creek, a 4500-acre nature preserve. The preserve is an important wildlife migratory corridor between Yellowstone National Park and the Madison Mountain Range. A biologist will share her knowledge about the species that occupy this diverse ecosystem and the challenges they face. Travel by skis or snowshoes throughout the preserve to learn about elk migration patterns, fire dangers in the West, and predator species in the area, such as grizzly bears and wolves. There will be ample time to also enjoy the stay at the cozy mountain lodge under the quiet blanket of Montana’s Big Sky.

February 4-6
Storytelling, Mindfulness & Life Skills 

Use your experiences thus far from the program and fold some of the highlights into learning the techniques of good storytelling. Guest presenters will demonstrate methods of storytelling through film, photography, writing and perhaps even music. You will further embark on a journey to develop a practice of mindfulness, resilience, empathy, compassion and leadership through the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, which was founded by Google executives. The course will help participants develop their full potential in professional and personal settings, and for the rest of their lives

February 7
Optional Program End

Departure for students who do not wish to join the Wilderness First Responder course.

February 7-15
Wilderness Medicine

Switch gears for a fast-paced and fun 72-hour Wilderness First Responder course that taps into anatomy and physiology lessons as well as the fundamentals of saving someone’s life. The first four days will be spent in the classroom learning the basics of injuries and illnesses in challenging environments. Enjoy a rest day on day five to regroup. During the remaining four days of the course, practice hands-on scenarios that occur in remote environments. Upon successful completion, participants receive their Wilderness First Responder and Adult CPR certifications. This is an invigorating course even for those who may not have future interests in wilderness or medicine lifestyles!

February 16
Program End

Celebrating 30 Years