Montana Summer FAQ

Program Preparation Information

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

Please, contact us with any questions!

 

Program Life

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

Program Expectations & Zero Tolerance Rules

Zero Tolerance Rules

VISIONS is a Zero Tolerance program regarding (1) consumption, possession, or attempted possession of alcohol or drugs/illegal substances; (2) sexual activity. 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. Sexual contact—meaning conduct deemed unacceptable in public places—also will result in dismissal. Remember that VISIONS focuses on an inclusive group dynamic, making cliques and romances out of sync with the goal of a powerful and life-changing experience. Please review the Enrollment Contract for the complete Terms of Participation.

The “Airplane Rules” (zero tolerance 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. If a participant is sent home early from a program, the participant’s parent/guardian will be responsible for booking the next available flight directly with the airline. VISIONS travel agents are not always available for these types of flight changes, and purchasing a new ticket is sometimes necessary.

Sending a participant home is difficult for everyone, but it will happen if an Airplane Rule is broken. Being sent home, even in the 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.

Being In Touch

Program Updates

While VISIONS leaders do not post constant updates from the field (their primary job being to be fully present with the program and kids), we do post a few photos and short updates every week to the VISIONS Facebook and Instagram pages, which we invite you to follow.

Calling the Program

For urgent matters (only), call the program phone directly. Leave a message if there’s no answer, and messages are checked at least once a day. If you’re unable to get through, you may also call (not text) the VISIONS office. During off-hours, a 24-hour number is provided on the office message system.

  • Program Phone: ‪(406) 518-1644. For urgent matters or to return a call to leaders. Messages are checked at least once a day unless the group is out of range on a backpacking trip.
  • VISIONS Office: (406) 551-4423. For administrative needs or if you are unable to get through to the program phone. Note that if you are calling outside of business hours, listen to the voicemail for our off-hours number. If it’s an urgent matter, call (don’t text).
  • Program Director: Dave Ronn

Weekly Calls Home

Remember that we make time for kids to connect with home once a week. Not all choose to do so, but the opportunity is provided. Leaders do not monitor how kids are using their phones, so parents should talk with kids before the program begins if you want to be sure that your child uses phone time to call home.

CALL SCHEDULE

Participants receive their phones for approximately thirty minutes in order to make the calls, which will be made sometime during the following timeframes. All times MST.

Session 1 / June

June 16 – between 7 & 9pm
June 23 – between 7 & 9pm
June 27 – between 7 & 9pm

Session 2 / July

July 12 – between 7 & 9pm
July 19 – between 7 & 9pm July 26 – between 7 & 9pm

Session 3 / August

August 10 – between 7 & 9pm
August 15 – between 7 & 9pm

MAILING ADDRESS

VISIONS – Participant’s Name
11284 Kelly Canyon Road
Bozeman MT 59715

Packing

Packing Guidelines / Tech Policy

Our somewhat conservative dress recognizes the fact that we are going to work each day, and certain apparel is more appropriate for such work. We understand that you may need to shop to purchase some new or new-thrift items in order to adhere to the dress code, and we appreciate your understanding with this. 

  • Articles of clothing NOT permitted on VISIONS programs:
    • Short-shorts or short skirts. All shorts—for boys and girls—must have a minimum 5” inseam. 4 ¾” and less will not be permitted, and please note that VISIONS is specific with the length of shorts in order to remove discrepancies or confusion. 
    • Crop tops or shirts that reveal midriff
    • Spaghetti strap shirts
    • Low cut shirts
    • Clothing that reveals undergarments
    • Thin or see-through spandex or yoga pants (wearing these under other clothing such as shorts is permitted)

Note: If you bring clothing items that don’t follow the dress code described above, you won’t be able to wear those items during the program. Thank you for your understanding.

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.

Spending Money

Tuition covers almost everything during the program, but some participants like to bring extra money (no more than $40). 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 $40 cash—VISIONS can lock up cash in a secure area, but we don’t want to accept more than $40 per person. You can rely on the ATM card for additional money needs.

Medications

  • Carry medications in their original containers, clearly labeled. Confirm that you have enough for the entire trip.
  • We recommend you bring 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).
Passport / ID

If you are remaining within your home country for the program, travel with a valid ID, as the airline may ask for it. If you don’t have a driver’s license or passport, bring a copy of your birth certificate. Participants who are not U.S. citizens must consult with the appropriate embassy or consulate regarding entry requirements. Please contact the VISIONS office if you need a letter confirming program participation.

Travel

Booking Flights
  • The VISIONS designated travel agent is Aileen Setiawan at Discover Travel, 215.925.6174 or aileen@discovertravelinc.com.
  • VISIONS strongly recommends that flights are booked with Aileen since she has the arrival and departure parameters as well as an overview of all participants’ itineraries in order to facilitate travel days. It is not guaranteed that there will be more than one participant on every flight, but participants booking flights through Aileen will be placed on the same travel itineraries whenever possible.
  • If families choose not to book with Aileen, the itinerary must be submitted to VISIONS for approval prior to booking. Neither VISIONS nor our travel agent will be able to assist with travel issues associated with flights booked through an alternative option.
  • In cases of flight delays or changed flight dates, Aileen is a resource, but there will also be instances when parents may need to call an airline to assist.
  • Unaccompanied Minor (UM) Service is required by some airlines for minors who are not traveling with an adult. Aileen will inform you of the requirements, and please also check the regulations of your carrier. UM assistance is arranged directly with the airline, but you will need to share the details with VISIONS so we can pass it along to program leaders. If you are not booking with Aileen and are booking directly with the airline using miles, the airline might not advise you of the UM requirement, which can cause last minute issues at the airport. It is each family’s responsibility to take care of UM requirements well in advance of travel day.
Trip Insurance
If you wish to purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance, please read more here.
Pre-Departure Covid Details

Pre-program Health

  1. Limit potential exposure before the program start date (whether vaccinated or not).
    • Reminder: 90 days after having Covid-19, a person can still test positive.
  2. Covid-19 Vaccinations:
    • While not required, we recommend that eligible students have full vaccination prior to leaving for the program.

Testing

  • VISIONS Required Testing (whether vaccinated or not)
  1. Within five days of traveling to the program, you must take a COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal PCR test and receive a negative result.
    • Five days before traveling means not greater than five days from when a student begins to travel directly to Montana. The date & time of a student’s first flight is the benchmark for this.
    • Test results need to be on an official document (electronic or otherwise) that shows the following:
      • Laboratory name and contact details
      • Student’s name
      • Test taken, stating RT-PCR
      • Date and time that the sample was taken
      • Negative result for COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2

Submit Forms

  1. Students will also be required to submit a copy of their Negative COVID-19 Test Results and copy of vaccination card (if applicable).
    • SUBMIT COVID TEST RESULTS AND COVID VACCINE CARD HERE.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

  1. While not required, we recommend that eligible students have full vaccination prior to leaving for the program.
Travel Days
  1. Print this information
  2. Review it before the trip
  3. Participant carries a physical copy while traveling (& can save to phone)

Pre-departure Checklist

  1. Within five days of traveling to the program take a COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal RT-PCT test and receive a negative result.
  2. Submit forms to VISIONS: covid test results and a copy of vaccination certificate (if applicable).
  3. Carry copies of covid test results and vaccination certificate (if applicable) with you.
  4. Check your airline for schedule changes the day before and the day of departure
  5. Keep your passport or other ID safe and accessible
  6. Have your money / ATM card safe and accessible
  7. Carry your cell phone and charger in your carry-on (rather than packing in checked bags)
    • Optionally, download WhatsApp for Calls Home (participants & parents)
  8. Put your home address (not program address) on your luggage tags

Airport Arrival Instructions

  1. If you have a connection, go directly to the gate of the next flight, even if it’s a long connection. Check the flight screens for the gate number; ask for help from airport personnel as needed.
  2. Once in Bozeman, the airport is small and easy to navigate. Your VISIONS leaders will be waiting for you in the baggage claim area.
  3. Leaders will be holding obvious orange umbrellas and wearing VISIONS t-shirts.
  4. Once with leaders, participants make a quick “arrival call home.”
    • Note: this call may occur upwards of 1.5 hrs after the flight lands, due to the logistics of gathering luggage and welcoming participants.
  5. Leaders & participants then drive together to our homebase.
  6. If arriving from outside of the US, provide the following info to Customs:
    • The primary purpose of the trip is “tourism,” since this is not for a job
    • The address you’ll be staying at is:
      • 11284 Kelly Canyon Road; Bozeman MT 59715

Airport Issues Help

The VISIONS office is available 24/7 while participants are traveling at +1 (406) 551-4423.

  1. If there are any flight delays that will affect a participant’s arrival time (to the program), participants should contact the VISIONS office immediately.
  2. If bags are lost, leaders will do their best to handle it on the spot and will be in touch with parents if assistance is needed.
  3. If you cannot find leaders in the airport:
    • Remain inside the airport
    • Do not leave the baggage claim area
    • Actively look for leaders holding an orange umbrella and/or wearing VISIONS shirts
    • If you have not found a leader within 10 minutes, call the VISIONS office from a Customer Service desk or your own cell phone

General Arrival Logistics

  1. The VISIONS home office is available around the clock on flight days. VISIONS leaders meet each participant at the program airport as they arrive. Leaders pick participants up directly outside of the secured area. Bozeman is a small airport.
  2. Parents receive a “safe arrival” call from a leader and their child from the airport.