Summer Search in Montana

August 5th – 18th

Dig Deep. Do Good. Amaze Yourself.

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love.”

John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Your Experience

  • HANDS-ON PROJECTS. With the highest percentage of Americans living below the poverty line, Indian tribes often lack adequate housing and social resources, so our service work aims to help meet these needs. We repair homes, work at community garden structures, and distribute meals and food to children and families in need
  • COMMUNITY BUILDING. Connect sincerely with fellow Summer Search participants as well as your VISIONS leaders and local people who are nonprofit directors, historians and conservationists.
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE. Head out and enjoy adventures to feel the connection to nature and what it means to develop harmony between ourselves and the land.
  • OUR HOME

    SETTLE INTO THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION

    Much of your time will be spent in the main reservation town of Browning.

  • SETTLE into a community center equipped with cots and mattresses, showers, bathrooms and a kitchen. You’ll bring your own bedding. 
  • PREPARE healthy meals and help participate in the chores that keep a community group running.
  • JOURNEY to natural areas, tribal lands and the Greater Glacier Ecosystem.
  • EMBRACING WORK THAT MATTERS

    CONNECT TO THE LAND AND ITS PEOPLE

    Through hands-on projects, you’ll experience local culture and be part of one of the most diverse ecosystems in the United States. You’ll dig in at the frontlines of reservation life and begin to see the complexities of holding onto traditional life while also dealing with the challenges of modern poverty and limited resources.

  • VOLUNTEER with nonprofits that serve everyone from the youngest kids to elders who have witnessed so many changes over the generations. 
  • WORK hard, play hard, dig deep, and amaze yourself.
  • PRACTICE and discuss ways to implement solutions that build a bridge to the world we want for ourselves and generations to come.
  • ITINERARY OVERVIEW

    The actual 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: Summer Search students arrive at the Kalispell airport, where VISIONS leaders greet them upon arrival and then make the two hour drive along Glacier National Park to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and our homebase in a local community center. After unpacking and settling in, we dive into orientation and workshops: hand- and power- tool training in the carpentry workshop; composting and cooking basics in the food waste workshop; and safety, boundaries and hiking protocols in the outdoor workshop. 

    We then have a big feast at our Welcome Dinner! That evening we’ll gather up for our first group circle meeting to state our goals for the experience ahead. Circle meetings continue approximately every other evening throughout the program.

    We then have a big feast at our Welcome Dinner! That evening we’ll gather up for our first group circle meeting to state our goals for the experience ahead. Circle meetings continue approximately every other evening throughout the program.

    Day 2: We are invited to a conservation event and “invasive weed pull” with other volunteers and guest speakers. We’ll spend part of the day at the Rising Wolf Ranch, learning about the impact of invasive species, doing some volunteer work, having a cookout and engaging with conservationists and scientists. 

    Day 3: It’s time to learn more about Blackfeet culture, history and land. After a hearty breakfast at homebase, we will set out for a reservation tour, scenic day hike, and possibly a refreshing dip at a local swimming hole. After a full day, enjoy a delicious dinner back at homebase. 

    Days 4 – 8: We dig into our Monday – Friday rotating volunteer work groups! Choose from different worksites each day, including serving meals at the Children Nutrition Program, helping FAST Blackfeet (Food Access & Sustainability Team) with distribution, constructing dog houses for the Spirit of Imitaa pet assistance program, and doing other small building and repair projects at people’s homes. We also launch into our “homebase crew” days with rotating groups that prepare breakfast and lunch, clean our living space and run program errands.

    After work ends around 3 pm each day, we have a variety of fun and engaging activities, most of which are done in rotating groups. You can look forward to touring the Museum of the Plains Indian, doing a scavenger hunt in town, learning how to make traditional Indian Tacos from our dinner cook, taking a beading workshop, attending open gym with local teens, cooling off in a mountain creek, visiting Tipi Village, and more. 

    We will attend an evening presentation, “Unlocking Wolves’ Secretive Journeys,” by a respected biologist and another evening we’ll hear from Blackfeet tribal historian and musician, Jack Gladstone

    Day 9: Travel to the small Blackfeet village of Heart Butte for their annual powwow celebration. Tribes from across the region convene for dancing and drumming competitions, Native games, and celebration. People will be wearing traditional regalia, and it’s an honor to be part of this special day. 

    Days 10: Sunday, it’s a sleep in day! We’ll then have a mix of activities from which to choose, but it’s a relaxing day with time to also read and journal, visit with community friends, and see new sites on the reservation. We’ll also kick off the new week with a delicious meal that’s shared with local guests.

    Days 11 & 12: The rotating worksites and activities continue! One night is set aside for our Talent Show and another for our goodbye dinner with community partners. 

    Days 13: We say goodbye to the Blackfeet Reservation and our new friends, and drive along the southern border of Glacier National Park to our rock climbing destination. You’ll challenge yourself and encourage each other as we do an introductory climb with professional guides.

    After the half-day climb, cool off with a swim, have our final Circle meeting, and head to a small forested property known as Whistlin’ Acres to camp out and enjoy each other’s company.

    Day 14: Our adventure comes to an end. Leaders take students to the Kalispell airport and see everyone off for their travels home. Until next time!