Montana Blackfeet

Program Itinerary

Excursions
Overnight Camping Trip: 21- and 15-day programs
Rock Climbing: 21- and 15-day programs
Powwow: 21- and 9-day programs (just one day on 9-day)
Horseback Riding: All programs

Montana Blackfeet Sessions 1 & 2

21- and 15-Day Programs

The itinerary depicts the typical 21-day program with notations made for excursions that are not included in the 15-day trip. The shorter program also has fewer volunteer hours and will miss some of the local afternoon activities. The actual flow of the schedule may be a little different due to the flow of service projects, weather or impromptu community events that we are invited to.

Day 1: High school volunteers arrive at the Kalispell airport, where VISIONS leaders are waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen about once a week but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.) 

Then we’re off on a gorgeous two-hour drive through glacier country, alongside Glacier National Park, to get to our homebase at the Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary conservation ranch, a few miles outside the reservation town of Browning. Once there, we settle in and begin our program orientation. We end the day with a relaxed dinner and our first Circle meeting. 

Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.

Day 2: Following a hearty breakfast, we continue with our orientation, get to know the worksites and spend time with our carpenters who lead us through hand- and power-tool training for the construction projects ahead. We also complete some small building projects. In addition to carpentry training, the day is devoted to getting grounded for the program experience ahead with rotating workshops that include safety cooking and meal prep, orientation to our non-construction worksites and fun icebreakers

Days 3 – 6: Time to get to work, with a few different worksites to choose from each day and that include repair and renovations at elders’ homes, wheelchair ramps and working on community structures. We also do environmental work such as removing invasive weed species and social service at the local food bank. “Homebase crew” days are in effect, with rotating groups that prepare breakfast, run errands and buy food for our next meals, do laundry and clean our living space. 

We end work days around 2 pm and then have a mix of organized full and smaller group activities. One afternoon, participate in a scavenger hunt in the reservation town of Browning to get to know our surroundings. On another, we visit the Museum of the Plains Indian. 

We also take a reservation tour with one of our Blackfeet friends who talks with us about the history of the important sites. The Blackfeet reservation encompasses 1.5 million acres (making it the third largest in Montana) and the tour gives us a sense of the vast history embedded into the landscape. In the evening we head back to the ranch for a cookout. 

During Circle meetings, our group transitions into the “working stage,” delving into activities to learn more about constructive feedback and effective community building.

Read more about daily life on VISIONS programs.
–The shorter program condenses the schedule above by ~ 1 day.–

Days 7 – 9: We pack our backpacks for a two-night camping trip. (This a first for many of our students and leaders will teach you everything you need to know.) We do a modest hike into our campsite on the first day, then spend the evening cooking dinner and sharing stories. The next day we take short hikes from our basecamp and bask in the incredible beauty of Montana. On the third day, we pack up with a mindset of “leave no trace” wilderness ethics and head back home where a big home-cooked meal awaits!

Days 10 – 14: Dig back into our worksites, making tangible progress on projects. In the afternoons and evenings, we take a beading workshop, attend the popular street dance in town, enjoy short hikes and swimming, listen to guest speakers and learn how to make Indian fry bread. One afternoon will be carved out for horseback riding!
–The shorter program condenses the schedule above by ~ 1 day.–

Days 15 – 18: North American Indian Days celebration takes place over the course of four days and we’ll attend many of the activities. This is one of the region’s biggest powwows with traditional dancing, drumming and captivating Grand Entries. We’ll attend the opening parade and possibly a rodeo, Native American sports competitions, and observe  tribal members dancing in traditional regalia while drum circles reverberate. 

When we’re not attending powwow events, we’re keeping our momentum with worksites. One night will also include our VISIONS Talent Show!

Circle meetings and our time bonding as a group also take on new meaning as we transition into thinking about how the summer experience might continue to play into our lives back home.
–The shorter program does not attend a powwow, as the dates don’t correspond.–

Day 19: Last day of work to complete our projects! We also do a big clean of our homebase, then cap things off with a goodbye dinner.  

Day 20: On our last full day we’ll head out for a day of rock climbing with expert climbing guides. Afterwards, we’ll camp out north of Kalispell at the home of VISIONS former Blackfeet program director. We end this last full day together with a cookout.

Day 21: Teens depart out of Kalispell and leaders see each participant off on their flights.

Montana Blackfeet Session 3

9-Day Program

The actual flow of the schedule may be a little different due to the flow of service projects, weather or impromptu community events that we are invited to.

Day 1: High school volunteers arrive at the Kalispell airport, where VISIONS leaders are waiting to meet each student. All teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen about once a week but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.) 

Then we’re off on a gorgeous two-hour drive through glacier country, alongside Glacier National Park, to get to our homebase at the Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary conservation ranch, a few miles outside the reservation town of Browning. Once there, we settle in and begin our program orientation. We end the day with a relaxed dinner and our first Circle meeting. 

Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.

Day 2: Following a hearty breakfast, we continue with our orientation, we get to know the worksites and spend time with our carpenters who lead us through hand- and power-tool training for the construction projects ahead. We also complete some small building projects on this day. In addition to carpentry training, the day is devoted to getting grounded for the program experience ahead with rotating workshops that include safety, cooking and meal prep, orientation to our non-construction worksites and fun icebreakers

Days 3 – 5: We head to all of our different worksites, from construction to social service and environmental work. “Homebase crew” days are in effect, with rotating groups that prepare breakfast, run errands and buy food for our next meals, do laundry and clean up our living space. 

We end work days around 2 pm and then partake in a variety of afternoon and evening activities. We visit the Museum of the Plains Indian, take a scenic hike, host a guest speaker and enjoy evening cookouts. One afternoon includes horseback riding with professional outfitters.

During Circle meetings, our group transitions into the “working stage,” delving into activities to learn more about constructive feedback and effective community building.

Read more about daily life on VISIONS programs.

Day 6: The small reservation town of Heart Butte hosts their annual powwow, where we’ll see traditional dances and listen to the mesmerizing drum circles

Day 7: Last day of work to complete our projects! That night we’ll have a Talent Show and goodbye dinner.  

Day 8: We do a big clean of our homebase, pack our bags and then depart the ranch after lunch. We’ll head north of Kalispell and camp out in the forest at the home of our former Blackfeet program director. We end with a cookout to officially close out our time together. 

Day 9: Teens depart out of Kalispell and leaders see each participant off on their flights. Until next time!

Celebrating 34 Years