Montana Northern Cheyenne FAQ

 

Hun School of Princeton 2020

The information below is everything you'll need to prepare for your VISIONS trip.

Feel free to contact us with any questions!

Program Itinerary

The schedule below illustrates the general flow of the program and the highlights of what will take place. The schedule may change to accommodate the weather or the needs of the community or group.

 

 

Day One 

  • Flight arrival to Billings airport met by VISIONS leaders
  • 2 hour drive to homebase
  • Settle in / unpack / orientation
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Group meeting

Day Two 

  • Tool training / worksite training
  • Worksites begin
  • Lunches at the worksites
  • End work ~ 2 pm
  • Afternoon activity: Hike & swim at Crazy Head Springs
  • Dinner guest / guest speaker 

Day Three 

  • Worksites
  • Afternoon activity: Scavenger hunt in Lame Deer & community interviews
  • Dinner 
  • Group meeting, reflection activity

Day Four

  • Worksites
  • Afternoon activity: Visit to one of the most important cultural and historic sites on the Northern Plains where the Great Sundance was held at the Deer Medicine Rocks just days before the impending Little Bighorn Battle.
  • Dinner 
  • Games and optional beading workshop

Day Five 

  • Worksites
  • Afternoon activity: Attend the Memorial Day Powwow
  • Group meeting

Day Six 

  • Worksites (shorter work day)
  • Lunch picnic and afternoon activity: Tour of Bighorn Battlefield, site of Custer’s Last Stand
  • Dinner at the tribal casino and later discussion of casinos’ role with the reservation

Day Seven 

  • Worksites (last day of work; pictures of completed projects, goodbyes to project partners)
  • Afternoon activity: Outing to nearby coal mining town of Colstrip, then swimming at a public pool / recreation park
  • Last Dinner with community friends, campfire

Day Eight 

  • Full day excursion with hiking, caving and horseback riding options (possible overnight camping or hotel, depending on departure time the next day)
  • Last group meeting 

Day Nine

  • Departure from Billings

 

Packing Guidelines

When in Rome, Do As the Romans Do

VISIONS places a high value on respect of the community members who welcome us year after year. We are not tourists. We are temporary community members, and as such must strive to honor the standards of our host community. We all need to be conscious of adapting rather than imposing our usual day-to-day conduct or dress on the places we visit, as tourists tend to do. The community where we live and work will want to welcome you as a friend, so we must do our best not to alienate local contacts.

In addition to the cultural considerations, conservative dress protects you from the sun, heat, mosquito bites and minor cuts. Long-sleeved gauzy fabric is breathable and cool, and the body adjusts to protective clothing. You’ll be more comfortable if less of your skin is exposed.

  • Articles of clothing NOT permitted on VISIONS programs:
    • Short-shorts (shorter than mid-thigh) or short skirts
    • Crop tops or shirts that reveal midriff
    • Spaghetti strap shirts or dresses
    • Low cut shirts
    • Clothing that reveals undergarments
    • Spandex or yoga pants (wearing these under other clothing such as shorts is permitted)

 

Gadgets

  • VISIONS is a cell phone / tech-free program, but [non-phone] cameras are allowed and encouraged. If you choose not to bring one, leaders will be taking photos throughout the program and we will share the photos with everyone at the end of the program.
  • Cell phones, music devices, e-readers and any other gadgets will be collected on the first day and will be returned on the final day. We make every effort to safely secure electronic devices, but VISIONS is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

 

Why the tech policy?

  • First: The absence of these devices encourages us to take in the full texture of the community—the sights, smells, sounds and rhythms of daily life. Participants consistently comment after their VISIONS program that they were able to form deeper friendships, and they felt more connected to the community when the distractions of technology were removed.
  • Second: Because we are a group of non-locals, we will naturally stick out. Bringing gadgets only makes us targets for petty theft, and it accentuates the differences between our hosts and ourselves.

 

Spending Money

Tuition covers almost everything during the program, but some participants like to bring extra money (around $30-50 per week) for personal items such as souvenirs, snacks, and baggage fees. VISIONS leaders encourage participants to turn in cash and cards at the beginning of the program and then check the money/cards out as needed. Please refer to your airline’s website for baggage fees (if applicable).

  • ATM Card: VISIONS recommends bringing an ATM card. They are more secure than cash and ATMs provide local currency. Additionally, they can be held in a parent's name because ATMs do not require identification.
  • Credit Cards: We recommend bringing a credit card for things like baggage fees and other expenses where cards are accepted. Since many small shops will not accept credit cards, however, you will still need a means for cash.
  • Cash: Please do not bring more than $150 cash—VISIONS can lock up cash in a secure area, but we don't want to accept more than $150 per person. You can rely on the ATM card for additional money needs.
  • Prepaid Debit Cards: These cards often do not work well in small local shops, so please do not plan on this as a primary payment option, especially if traveling outside the U.S.

 

Medications

  • Carry medications in their original containers, clearly labeled. Confirm that you have enough for the entire trip.
  • We recommend that you travel with your medications in your carry-on, so you will still have access to them if your luggage is delayed or lost.
  • It is recommended that participants carry a doctor’s letter that lists the diagnosis, treatment, and prescription routine (including generic names of the medication).
Packing List

Please download and print the following packing list:

Montana Northern Cheyenne Packing List (Custom Program)

Health
Please note that the program is based in the town of Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne reservation, and that excursions to other areas include Bighorn National Forest. The hospital in Lame Deer typically only serves tribal members, except in emergency situations. Most medical situations would be treated at the clinic in nearby Ashland or the hospital in Colstrip (a one-hour drive). Serious medical situations would be treated at the full-scale hospital in Billings. Participants carry the medical evacuation policy in case of any emergency during backcountry excursions.

To learn more about health and risk management on VISIONS programs, please refer to this FAQ link.

Program Expectations & Zero Tolerance Rules
Zero Tolerance Rules

The “Airplane Rules” are in place for everyone’s safety, health and welfare, common sense, group dynamic, and with local laws in mind. It is important to remember that local laws may be different than what you are used to, and in some locations, repercussions and penalties are severe and may have a long-lasting impact on your future. VISIONS rules and policies are in place to protect you.    

VISIONS is a Zero Tolerance program regarding consumption, possession, or attempted possession of alcohol or drugs/illegal substances. Consuming, possessing, or attempting to possess alcohol or drugs/illegal substances will result in immediate dismissal from the program. Participants may not abuse over-the-counter drugs or use medications not prescribed to them. Exclusive relationships, including clique forming or intimate relations, are also not permitted on an VISIONS program. These types of relationships can have a negative impact on the group dynamic and may result in dismissal. Please review the Enrollment Contract for the complete Terms of Participation.

Sending a participant home is difficult for everyone, but it will happen if an Airplane Rule is broken. Being sent home, even in final days of a program, results in forfeiture of the Certificate of Service and recognition of service hours. Again, the safety, health, and wellbeing of participants is at the core of our policies.

 

Buddy System and Boundaries

If you want to leave your homebase area during the occasional free time – for example, to stop at a store or to go for a run – you need to find someone in your group who is willing to go with you, and you must remain inside the pre-determined boundaries. You and your buddy check out with a leader, establishing where you will be and how long you will be gone. When you return, you check in with the same leader. 

The boundaries are explained by leaders on the first day of the program, and usually encompass our immediate neighborhood and the nearby places we know well. Our leaders need to know where everyone is at all times for your safety and for maintaining the general flow of the program. Participants will be with leaders at all times during non-daylight hours, unless there is a special case such as a dinner with a local family.

 

Getting Enough Sleep

VISIONS programs are demanding. We start early, work hard, and explore with passion. Free time can be used to catch a short nap, but to keep everyone healthy and energized throughout the program, we establish a set “lights out” time. Leaders consider the daily routines of our host communities and our personal program needs when setting those times. There are occasional exceptions including staying up for a social event, or sleeping in on a morning when leaders determine some extra rest will be beneficial for the group. Participants are welcome to use a headlamp to read after lights out, but we suspect that you will welcome sleep. 

Community

Community

When we refer to the community of participants and leaders in VISIONS, we mean it as best defined by M. Scott Peck in “The Different Drum”:

[A] group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to . . . delight in each other, make others' conditions (their) own.

On a VISIONS program, we place a premium on building a sense of community and getting to know everyone in the group. Sometimes, community can mean “neighborhood” in the sense of sharing resources like power tools and physical labor, as we do in the communities where we work. On a deeper level, it can mean creating a kind of family out of strangers and it is this sense of community that we strive to create among our groups and leaders.

Community means embracing your responsibilities within the group rather than hiding in anonymity, respecting others, communicating clearly, and living together cooperatively. To encourage growth in each of those areas, your leaders will facilitate evening meetings that include every participant on the program. Your group will meet three or four nights a week for about an hour to speak and listen to each other. We almost always start by reflecting on the day, including the overall volunteer and cultural experiences. Sometimes an incident or event raises questions that deserve everyone’s perspective and input. When it’s called for, we also use the time to hash out issues and iron out differences. This is a time to communicate openly and to listen to others’ perspectives. It can also be an occasion for us to see how others perceive us, which is a valuable gift.

Through this forum, we stand to gain insight as well as more confident and effective communication skills, which are as useful as the physical skills we learn and apply during the day. Our focus is the here and now, and the integrity of the community, of both leaders and participants, living and learning together.

It is your time, our time, to build a foundation of trust and cohesiveness in the process of becoming a strong community.

 

There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; 

there can be no peace — and ultimately no life — without community.

- Scott Peck

Code of Ethics

  • Travel with a spirit of humility and a genuine desire to meet and talk with local people.
  • Be aware of the feelings of others. Act respectfully and avoid offensive behavior, including when taking photographs.
  • Cultivate the habit of actively listening and observing rather than merely hearing and seeing. Avoid the temptation to “know all the answers.”
  • Realize that others may have concepts of time and attitudes that are different—not inferior—to those you inherited from your own culture.
  • Instead of looking only for the exotic, discover the richness of another culture and way of life. Learn local customs and respect them.
  • Spend time each day reflecting on your experiences in order to deepen your understanding. Is your enrichment beneficial for all involved?
  • Be aware of why you are traveling in the first place. If you truly want a “home away from home,” why travel?

Compiled by The North American Center for Responsible Tourism, San Anselmo, CA