February 3, 2015 – Bozeman, Montana – During the 2014 summer Cypress Smith, a student at Wellesley High School, spent 18 days over summer vacation on the Montana Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation with VISIONS Service Adventures, an international community service based adventure travel program.
Smith was part of a group of high school students who lived in Lame Deer, the major town and government center of the reservation, and they accomplished community service in two reservation communities. The teen volunteers worked on building projects for Dull Knife Community College and Cheyenne Children Services, and organized activities with local children through the Kids Kollege program. They also helped prepare and serve lunch to approximately 60 elders on a daily basis. Within this project, they made goody bags from donated items, stocked pantries, watered plants, cleaned lunchroom and kitchen, prepared hors d’oeuvres, and spent time interacting with the seniors and hearing their stories.
The trip wasn’t all work for Smith and peers. They learned about Cheyenne culture in regular visits with elders, tribal historians and other local leaders. They joined in a sweat lodge ceremony and took basic lessons in traditional beading from a Cheyenne artisan. They also hiked and backpacked in the Big Horn Mountains.
“Service in the cross-cultural context allows teens the opportunity to make a difference and, just as important, know the people whose lives they are impacting in personal, mutually respectful ways,” says Katherine Dayton, VISIONS Executive Director. “We give students tangible ways to be challenged through ambitious service work, thereby developing resilience and self-confidence, and realizing their potential in this world.”
VISIONS operates high school volunteer travel programs in Alaska, the British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Mississippi, Montana Blackfeet, Montana Northern Cheyenne, Myanmar (Burma), Dominican Republic, Ecuador & Galapagos, Nicaragua, Peru, Guadalupe, and middle school programs, including the Island Passage in the British Virgin Islands and Northern Passage in Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation.
“Each of our program locations is unique,” said Dayton, “but all provide primary ingredients of community service, cultural immersion, adventure and opportunities to explore places off the tourist track.”
For more information about VISIONS, check out http://www.visionsserviceadventures.com/, or contact Corinne Garcia at 406-272-0221 or Corinne@visionsserviceadventures.com.