NORTHERN PASSAGE MIDDLE SCHOOL

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Middle schoolers making change! Based on Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Pick up a hammer and focus on age-appropriate construction and carpentry projects. Also, work with tribal elders and children who love your company. Learn about the rich traditions of the culture and participate in a powwow. Explore the surrounding area, backpacking through the Bighorn Mountains, visiting Little Bighorn Battlefield, and swimming in cool mountain streams.

PROGRAM DATES

July 23 to August 3 $3350

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WHAT WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH?

You will learn how to use carpentry tools to build picnic tables for schools, renovate playgrounds, and help with home repairs projects for community members. You will also serve lunches at the Senior Center to tribal elders and work with kids through a lively summer camp.

WHO WILL YOU IMPACT?

For 20+ years, VISIONS volunteers have accomplished carpentry and social service projects for families, elders, and children in Lame Deer, the reservation headquarters, a welcoming community affected by a lack of adequate housing, sparse social resources, and high poverty rates.

WHERE WILL YOU EXPLORE?

You will spend time with our Cheyenne friends, learning cultural traditions and hearing stories and the native language still spoken by some tribal members. You will also backpack in the mountains, swim in cool streams, and visit Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site of Custer’s Last Stand.

WORK ON SERVICE PROJECTS THAT MATTER

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.

FEATURED PARTNER

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.

CONTRIBUTE TO A COMMUNITY THAT WELCOMES YOU LIKE FAMILY

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.

OUR HOME BASE:

Lame Deer

The Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeast Montana first hosted VISIONS youth volunteers more than twenty years ago. We live in Lame Deer, the business and government center on the reservation that is home to about two thousand people.

VISIONS middle school travel programs are carefully designed as a comfortable next step from traditional sleep-away camp, and a building block toward the high school programs ahead. Projects, recreation and group activities have the middle school student in mind. Work days are a bit shorter than on high school programs, kids are almost always with leaders, and group size is smaller (12–15 participants on average) while maintaining VISIONS 1 to 4 leader ratio.

EXPLORE MONTANA WHILE YOU EXPERIENCE VISIONS

DAILY LIFE

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.

ITINERARY

  • Arrivals to Billings & Drive to Lame Deer
  • Orientation & Worksite Training
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield & Rodeo
  • Backpacking Trip
  • Outing with Kids Kollege
  • Community Goodbye Dinner
  • Departures

MORE DETAILS

  • Summer leaders receive students at the Billings airport and then travel two hours by bus to Lame Deer. Airfare is not included, but VISIONS assists with travel plans.
  • Middle school volunteers and their leaders live together in a Head Start school, with showers, bathrooms, a kitchen, and common area.
  • Boys and girls sleep in separate rooms. VISIONS provides floor mattresses and you bring your own sheets, sleeping bag and pillow.
  • You typically choose your community service project four days a week and spend the other day on “homebase” crew, cooking breakfast and running errands for the group.
  • Weekends are for excursions and many afternoons after work are for closer-to-home activities. A few nights a week we meet to discuss our volunteer and cross-cultural experiences.
  • Details such as a packing list, travel parameters, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we also are here to help.
  • 40 community service hours; middle school travel summer camp program for ages 12 – 14.

Program Director(s):

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