VISIONS: Montana Blackfeet High School Service Program

Video and Photos

About

Live on a ranch amid the rolling grasslands of the Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana. Work on conservation and building projects that serve the Blackfeet Indian tribe. Attend the annual powwow, try your hand at beading and horseback riding, learn about native plants and explore the gorgeous Glacier National Park next door.

Montana reservations are our oldest program sites and truly special places. For 28 years, VISIONS has collaborated with Blackfeet organizations, including the Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary. This partnership between the Nature Conservancy and Blackfeet Nation is a model for other tribes seeking to preserve their lands. As the sanctuary ranch summer caretakers, VISIONS teens help renovate buildings, repair fences, remove invasive plant species and more.

Highlights
  • Conservation
  • Community Service
  • Backpacking
  • American Indian Culture and History

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.62 Rating
based on 13 reviews
  • Growth 9.7
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 13
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Daniella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

BEST SUMMER OF MY ENTIRE LIFE

From the beginning of my journey with Visions, I knew that I was part of something special; something bigger than myself. All of the leaders were amazing, and worked tirelessly to make our experience extraordinary. Additionally, all of the other volunteers were some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
The living conditions are simple but comfortable, the bunks have functional sinks and showers, and the main house has a full kitchen, as well as a living room for the volunteers to hang out in.
The community service work was truly one-of-a-kind. Whether it was building a porch for a community elder, or woking with the local children during youth day, everyone worked hard and saw it pay off. One of the most rewarding parts of the experience was seeing the gratitude from the community members.
Our weekends were used as days to explore the community; to hike, camp, shop, swim, and more. For example, we had a three day hiking trip, where we had the pleasure of hiking to a camp site, swimming in a lake, and hiking some more, while bonding with the other members of our team.
We also had the privilege to witness some community festivals and events. Our group was given the opportunity to watch the Sundance, a special four-day-long event where there was singing, dancing, and special offerings were brought; a pow wow, where there were special dancers, as well as delicious treats; and sleep in tipees set up by community elders outside of our ranch.
This summer is a summer that I will never forget. I truly appreciate the opportunity to help others in need, while also having an incredible time and remarkable experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would recommend to future volunteers to enter with an open mind. It will be different than anything you would expect, but also better in every way.
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Jasmine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

VISIONS BLACKFEET

This summer I lived and volunteered on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation with VISIONS Service Adventures. VISIONS combined my favorite things- travel, learning, and community service. What I love about VISIONS is that the main focus of the trip is volunteering. Although there is still plenty of time to relax and explore, serving the community is the top priority. The weekday was structured around different worksites and projects. Every day we would choose between the different volunteering opportunities: soup kitchens, restocking food pantries, building handicap ramps for elders, repainting buildings… The schedule was very flexible and there were even more opportunities to find new work and take initiative in the community.

Besides the work, we also attended many cultural and religious ceremonies. VISIONS has worked with the Blackfeet people for almost thirty years, allowing the VISIONS program access to community celebrations as honored old friends. Knowing so many people in the community really allowed us to fully integrate into the community and got us invited to many sacred rituals. We attended sweat lodges, the sacred Sun Dance ceremony, and multiple powwows. Many of these rituals are not accessible to outsiders, and we were only able to attend these ceremonies because the locals know and trust VISIONS. They trusted us so much that they even let us help build the Sun Dance lodge and set up the tipis needed for the ceremony. Learning and experiencing this vibrant culture was only made possible because of VISIONS. I am so grateful to be one of the few outsiders who was able to experience it.

What would you improve about this program?
The housing could be slightly improved. Living on a ranch definitely pushed my limits but there were only port-a-potties. Also the ranch was a few miles outside of town, so we were not in the center of all the action.
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Nick
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best summer experience

I got to spend four weeks on the Montana Blackfeet reservation learning about their culture and their customs Whilst living on a ranch Among cattle I got to make great friends and have amazing experiences the leaders were very helpful and very friendly we did amazing trips like backpack into a frozen lake and traveling The elders and the tribe and our very nice and very open with going to the sun road where we saw grizzly bears the service project you do you are very rewarding and you feel great about yourself after completing them Getting to see a rodeo and a powwow well going to see Sundance a very spiritual rewarding experience which really opens your eyes to cultures around The elders really welcome you into their community and ally to see a side of people that you wouldn’t see anywhere else

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Nancy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

VISIONS Montana Blackfeet

Montana Blackfeet was one of my memorable and most favorite summer program I've ever been in. The leaders were supper professional, but fun, and I learned many construction and cultural facts. I made a bond with everyone and leaders made sure we got the help we needed. We also had neighbor dogs visiting our place every day, which was so sweet. Every day we had something to do, like laundry or construction work. We would go to communities and pass out flyers for free lunch and we met many friendly people. My trip with Visions was amazing. I went on the Visions Montana Blackfeet and I learned so much from my leaders. All my leaders were kind and willing to help each individual. I never got bored once on this trip and I met great people from all around the world. They made every aspect of the trip memorable and unique and I'm grateful to have been part of this program.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe the housing and the showers could be improved, but otherwise this trip was great.
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Marius
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Visions Montana Blackfeet 1

I embarked on the 27 day visions service trip to Montana and it was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We spent our days helping the local Native American Blackfeet reservation and its wonderful people, and spent our free time engaging in awesome bonding activities, sitting by the campfire and enjoying the grandiose beautiful sky. I also want to give a special shoutout to Nick Nelson who was one of the coolest mountain men Ive ever met and acted as a great role model to all of us. Trevor Cutlip and Khris Lyndon were also very good supporting counselors and the leaders made sure to bolster our experience for the better, very beneficial towards my character. We did things like canvas the local communities, venture out into the glacier national park mountains, and also go to iconic events like the Sundance, and the Indian days festival and rodeo.I highly recommend this program

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps for the visions Montana program,slightly more developed housing and more social stuf to do, but other than that(really enjoyable program.)
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Lori
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

a transformative experience for my daughter

My daughter went to Montana the Summer of 2011 (summer of her freshman year in HS) -- and though she was pretty well traveled by that point -- she was not ever a solo traveler (or someone who liked 'camp' for that matter ) -- So i have to say i was wondering how this experience would go..... There were some minor blips getting TO Montana (flights got cancelled/weather delays/ the kids were split up -- )but the Visions staff handled it admirably (in spite of the airlines ) -- keeping me (and the other parents) in the loop at all times -- and even going so far as to say they would drive to Salt Lake City and pick up the kids if they didn't make it to Montana-- Once they got to Montana...and they did... I am not entirely sure what precisely happened on a day to day basis -- i know there was a lot of work in the local community, a lot of work with in the group, some fabulous hiking and camping, rodeos and a sweat lodge -- but the Girl who came home.... well lets just say that she was sobbing at the airport as she wasn't ready for it all to end (this is a girl who is a real home body )-- the bonds forged, the lessons learned, the growth experienced-- it was a life changing experience for her and those friendships have endured-- and she honestly felt she had made a difference and learned something on the way -- We chose Visions because of their commitment to a true community service program--truly it is what they do (not a travel program with a small community service component), their reputation as a stellar program and their deep roots in many of the communities they work in. Our daughter went back the next year (to Cambodia-- will review that later- but FABULOUS) and i do not hesitate to recommend Visions to anyone who is looking for a summer service adventure that is so much more...

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Sameer
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

VISIONS gave me a new outlook on my life

This program is one that has impacted me in a number of ways. First, I had the chance to develop my carpentry skills, which have already begun to bear fruit back home. Second, and more reflectively, I was shown that work is often its own reward. I have, for much of my life, focused simply on the goal-- working until it is done, getting a score on it, and moving on to the next task; at VISIONS, I was made to understand the difference between work, the process, and the goal, the destination. This mentality is one that I will have for the rest of my life, and one that will serve me well. But lastly, and most importantly, I saw an America that looked nothing like the America I know. To see what has happened to Native Americans on reservations is an experience I will never forget. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met and they welcomed us to Browning despite the numerous struggles that they encounter everyday. Browning is a town that changed my life. I had some serious moments of self-reflection and I walked away a better person. This program is fantastic in more ways than one, and I urge rhe reader of this to consider applying.

What would you improve about this program?
Housing was okay, with all things considered, but I think that having slightly better showers would go a long way. It is a small concern, but the open top of it as well as its general dirtiness made showering an undesirable experience. Simply covering the sides so nothing can be thrown inside the shower while someone is showering. A mat wouldn't hurt either.
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BO
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

VISIONS will always in my mind.

27 days, this long trip without my family really makes me grow so much. Also, it's the first time I do this kind of volunteer work such as building, painting, and so on. The whole experience was refreshing me and making me think of my life and my future. This trip also makes me not too shy like I was. To be honest, the feeling of using your own hands to help others satisfy me the most. Although there might be difficulties and problems, you will enjoy the whole process of helping others and team work. All I want to say is: I really miss everyone who was in that program with me and this will be the most memorable experience in my life. If you choose it, you will never regret.