VISIONS: Montana Northern Cheyenne High School Service Program

Video and Photos

Northern Cheyenne Dusk
Northern Cheyenne Dusk
VISIONS participants backpacking in Bighorn Range
VISIONS participants backpacking in Bighorn Range
Montana Northern Cheyanne Horseback Trip
Montana Northern Cheyanne Horseback Trip
VISIONS participants lead Kids Kollege
VISIONS participants lead Kids Kollege
VISIONS participants work on construction project
VISIONS participants work on construction project

About

Learn the storied history of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, who live amid the big skies and vast prairies of southeastern Montana. Help tackle the challenges of contemporary reservation life by making hands-on renovations to homes and schools, leading a daycamp for children and serving meals to elders. Experience a traditional powwow, tour the Little Bighorn Battlefield and witness the through line connecting distant past to present.

Highlights
  • Community Service
  • Camping
  • American Indian Culture and History
  • Horseback Riding

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

86%
based on 5 reviews
  • Growth 8.3
  • Support 7.5
  • Fun 7.8
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 7.5
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 9
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
Carla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Montana Northern Cheyenne Program

My youngest son participated in this program the summer before starting 9th grade. I was already quite familiar with VISIONS as my oldest son spent part of his summer with the Tortola, BVI program before his high school senior year. I had absolutely no reservations sending my son to Montana, eventhough he struggles with anxiety, depression & inattentive ADD. After many long discussions with VISIONS Executive Director, Katherine Dayton, she accepted our son into the program wholeheartedly & reassured us that her capable staff would look after him if he encountered any issues. I never worried for one minute that he would not be well taken care of or not have fun. My expectations for this trip were high, but my son’s positive experience was even more than I had hoped for. He loved everything about it! He raved about the experienced, enthusiastic staff, the close friendships that he quickly made, the spectacular scenery & encountering a completely different culture. The service work was well-balanced with plenty of fun excursions & down time. He returned from Montana a more confident, independent & happier child. Today he is a high school sophomore who is thriving academically & although he still struggles with anxiety, depression & inattentive ADD, he has maintained the confidence & independence that he gained after participating in the Montana Northern Cheyenne Program. He is looking forward to participating in another VISIONS program the summer of 2020. It is my pleasure to recommend this program without reservation to any parent or student considering it.

What would you improve about this program?
This is a stellar program just as it is with an outstanding staff.
Default avatar
Oliver
3/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Atrocious

I completed the Visions Montana Blackfeet program summer of 2017 and while there was a complete lack of organization (so much so the head of Visions had to come and help the counselors for a few days), I had a lot of fun so decided to do it again. I chose the Montana Northern Cheyenne program simply because it was the only one which fit in with my schedule. And quick disclaimer, as insane as it sounds, everything I'm about to say is completely true.

I arrived at the airport later than everyone so had to drive back around midnight with one of the counselors and I got involved in quite a long political conversation (had to do something to kill the time) towards the end of which he explained, unsarcastically, how he believes the government controls people's minds by outlawing hallucinogenic drugs. While that didn't particularly bother me, I was a bit concerned and it explains a lot of what happened later (not suggesting this person was ever under the influence of anything during the trip). The next day marked the beginning of the counselor's abusive behavior towards me including mercilessly mocking my (natural) British accent and mimicking everything I said, continually changing the instructions and making me redo work for no reason and giving minimal regard for my well being and safety. Anytime I was riding shotgun in a car and he was driving he would either park my door over a puddle if possible, or simply park it so close to another car it was impossible for me to get out. Any question, request or statement I made was met with either a shrug or simply complete inaction. I brought this behavior upto the leader and other counselors multiple times but it was either brushed off or ignored; either way, no action was taken. The rest of the incidents were much more minor but their continual (multiple times per hour) nature made the whole trip horrible. Next, any input I gave, with regards to nearly anything, was ignored as it was assumed that I had no experience (when in actuality I've done construction carpentry work for multiple years) and I was never given an opportunity to prove myself. There were quite a few times where a lot of time was wasted simply because counselors refused to listen to my and friends' ideas.

Moving on from the 'leadership' problems, compared to the Blackfeet trip where we backpacked and camped in the beautiful Glacier National Park, went to (and participated in) so many amazing cultural events such as a Sundance, Sweat Lodge and Powwow, and spent much of our time working in/with and interacting to the community, this trip was severely lacking. We spent most of our free time, both during the day and the evenings, at 'homebase' as no events had been organized and many organized events were cancelled.

Accomodations wise, we were staying at the local community college, all together in a single room. Guys, girls, and counselors bunk beds were separated by curtains hung up on string and while it was pretty much what I expected, the temperature control made nights unbearable. It was at least 90F for most of the trip and everyone was cramped in pretty tightly. While horrible, the worst part was that the counselors refused to let us take the fans positioned around the kitchen and common area into the bunk area for no reason, while they themselves had multiple fans and some sort of AC system in their area which they kept hidden.

Also, while Visions had no control over this, we had multiple run-ins with extremely intoxicated locals who would follow us back to 'homebase'.

Finally, at the end of the program, I realized that another participant had taken 2 of my hoodies (one of which meant A LOT to me) but after many failed attempts to get them back, I went to the counselors. I was met with a shrug by all but one, and a refusal take even basic action by that person, even though I had directly seen my stuff in the other person's bag.

I can only write so much so I'm going to stop here but I think you get the point. I would absolutely not recommend this trip, or any other Visions trip for that matter (especially considering the company's lack of concern about my problems and horrible experience).

What would you improve about this program?
Hire qualified and competent counselors. At least one returning counselor per trip.
Response from VISIONS Service Adventures

Hi Oliver. I’m sorry to read about your experience of our program this past summer. We’ve been running programs for 31 years now, and have served thousands of students. Year after year we strive to provide the best possible experience for our participants and aim to make each of them feel heard and respected within their group and within the host community. Our focus on this is one of the reasons we run circle activities and why I travel to different sites each summer to visit various programs.

As is true in all situations, there are many perspectives. I am here to answer questions/concerns or delve more deeply into perspectives if you wish. Please feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to discuss.

Katherine Dayton
Executive Director

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Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

VISIONS Montana Northern Cheyenne

The best part of VISIONS is that it doesn't just benefit the communities it serves, it benefits all who come in contact with the program. Namely, it has a huge impact on its participants.
Before VISIONS, I was living inside a bubble of modern society. It seemed like everyone else in the world was exactly like me, pushing to do well in school to get into a good college, and then rushing around in life to do as much as possible and get a job and hopefully do some good along the way.
This world I'd imagined was too stressful, too competitive, and too alienating.
So I am so so thankful that VISIONS came and smashed down the walls that were starting to close in on me.
Through the physically difficult (but oddly soothing) community service we did, spending time with some of the Reservation's seniors, and participating in Circle with my friends, I realized that the world I'd lived in for the first sixteen years of my life was fake.
What was real was the cold water we'd filtered during our hike, the green plastic tub a friend and I heaved onto its side to dump out its soapy content, and the chocolate fur of an excited "Rez" puppy. What was real was the pink and blue sky of a sunset, the grey chunks of tile we fought every inch to take off the floor of the community college library, and the dust that billowed around us like fog as we drove on a dirt road.
During my trip with VISIONS, nothing else mattered, nothing else existed except those things. That feeling, of knowing a world that is wholly itself, has stayed with me ever since. For that, I am so, so grateful that I chose to participate in this program.

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Rebecca
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What a spectacular experience.

From the onset, we felt well-informed with expectations and tips well documented. Leading up to the adventure, both my daughter and I received emails and more details than we could have hoped for. My daughter felt like she was able to really experience the culture, work hard, exert herself physically, and participate well with a group of kids and counselors. She keeps pointing out new discoveries she made - everything from identifying beets in the fridge as something she picked from the ground or the water pump in a museum as something she used for 30-40 minutes to draw clean water. She connected with those she served with as well as those she met in the retirement home and on the "rez". She was already a child mature beyond her years but she came home wiser, more aware of others, and ready to be back next summer.

We're so thankful for the Visions team and the stellar job they do for their communities and the youth that spend just a bit of the summers trying to make a difference. And that the kids make life-long friendships in the program is just a bonus.

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly, I can't think of anything that needed improvement. There was one small glitch with travel arrangements but this was Delta's fault - Visions was highly flexible in dealing with the set back.
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Eve
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

MIDDLE SCHOOL MONTANA PROGRAM

The middle school Montana program was an awesome experience. You get to interact with locals and also meet people from all over the country or even all over the world. You also get to do fun community service projects for people around the town. You get such an awesome feeling after completing something here. I am already looking into doing another VISIONS program!