Wooo, it has been one heck of a season as an SEL for the Youth Program! Over the course of the past 2 months, I have gone on 3 site visits. When we go on “site visits” SELs/ Staff get to drive to the project location and work beside the crew for 1-3 days. We get to observe and check in the Expedition Leaders, while also bringing surprise treats for the participants. Site visits are so much fun to go on because it gives us the opportunity to go work in the field with the youth. Since most of us are doing work behind the scenes to make the Youth Program run smoothly, it is really fun to be a part of the crew on-site visits. It is very refreshing and allows all of us to feel like our youthful selves across Montana!
Since I am originally from Wisconsin, it has been a blast being able to travel all across the state to conduct site visits. I’ve been to the Bitterroot Mountains, the Pryor Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park to visit crews. It also gives us a chance to connect with the kids and learn about what MCC means to them as well as how their home lives are. When I did my site visit in Yellowstone, I worked with the crew to help redo/ fix boardwalks in Mammoth Hot Springs. I thought it was such a unique experience and something that not many people will ever have the opportunity to do. While working in the Bitterroot, the crew and I refreshed campground tables and road signs. We also performed the essential Oreo Pie blessing, which is critical to good luck and good fortune (if you know, you know!). The Pryor Mountains are about 1.5 hours south of Billings, and it is like a whole new world out there. The crew was working on a trail in the desert of Montana. I thought it was so crazy to be driving through dense forest to get to the site visit, and then within 15 minutes be working in a desert. Safe to say it was a dusty one! The Pryor's are almost like a hidden gem in Montana. Not many people who live in Bozeman had known about them prior (yes, pun intended), but they are filled with geodes, jasper, and gorgeous views.
Every Expedition Leader in the Youth Program deserves so many kudos. This work isn’t easy, but they make the kids have an experience that they won’t ever forget. Overall, it has been such a treat going on Site Visits and being a part of the crew.