FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is the program funded?
The MCC Expedition program is funded through our AmeriCorps federal grant, contributions from our project partners, corporate donations, foundation grants, and most importantly, donations from friends and family. We hope this is you, whether it is a small or big gift! These donations support our leader training and allow MCC to offer the youth service award and any recreation expenses.
What if we live outside a branch's community?
We accept participants statewide, from all communities. In order to keep the experience free and aligned with the expectations of our funders, MCC’s youth programs are focused on serving Montana teens. Nonresident teens will not be considered for this program.
Does MCC offer middle school programming?
We will not be offering middle school programming for the 2022 season. Check back next season for an update!
Expedition and YCC Leaders:
What qualifications do Expedition Leaders have?
Prior to joining MCC, leaders generally have at least two years of college, military service, or equivalent work experience, and previous experience in a leadership role with youth. Their service begins with an intensive 5-week Leadership Development Program to develop into effective leaders. Our Program objectives include risk management, communication, and team skills, leadership skills, environmental stewardship, technical field skills, and the development of a strong service ethic.
In addition to hands-on training and feedback, specific training provided includes:
- Wilderness Advanced First Aid
- Leadership skills training including communication, feedback, group development and conflict resolution
- Technical skills training including trail building, backcountry travel, camp set up, leave no trace, chain saw, and fencing
- Motor vehicle safety including the Smith System for defensive driving
- Youth Behavior and Development
- Multiple hands-on work experiences on natural resource projects and with local youth-serving agencies.
Additionally, we ask our Expedition Leaders to maintain professionalism and not associate with youth crew members outside of their MCC experience while they are serving.
Do Expedition Leaders go through a background check?
Yes. We have an extensive process for screening and hiring leaders. In addition to personal references, we perform a motor vehicle records check, criminal background check, and the national sex offender registry search. As part of our AmeriCorps grant we have strict regulations we must comply with for the background check.
Participation & Crew Makeup:
We don’t live in Montana. Can my youth participate?
The short answer, no. MCC’s youth programs are focused on serving Montana teens in order to keep the experience free and aligned with the expectations of our funders.
My youth has never camped before; can they still participate in Expedition?
Yes! Most important is the desire and willingness to be outdoors for an extended period. Our program is for the new campers and avid outdoors folks. Camping and packing skills will be introduced during orientation. Youth members learn camp skills over the course of the session from our Expedition Leaders and fellow crew members.
My youth has mental health concerns? Can they join a crew?
Youth with mental health concerns are eligible to apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. MCC leaders are not licensed to dispense medication nor are they licensed counselors. The utmost priority will be the safety and well-being of your teen and the members of the crew.
Can my youth participate in both summer sessions or join for a second season?
Please, apply to both! Enrollment will depend upon the number of applications we receive. We recommend one 2-week session for new folks and if a returner is looking for a challenge the 4-week program may be what you’re looking for.
Are siblings allowed on the same crew?
We avoid placing siblings on the same crew, simply so youth can have a chance to connect with peers. Please contact your staff if an accommodation needs to be considered.
In the Field:
How often do crews check in with regional staff?
Our crews are outfitted with a GPS device and check-in daily. We also schedule a site visit with crews to provide additional support to our leaders and youth members when out in the field.
Are cell phones allowed?
No, cell phones and other electronics (excluding cameras) detract from crew dynamics. Go old school and bring a disposable camera!
Our programs are intentionally technology-free to enhance crew connection. For safety, our leaders have GPS devices and their personal cell phones for emergencies. If you need to get in touch with your youth, you can contact staff and we will arrange a phone call or relay information to your teen.
Can guardians visit the Expedition crew on a project?
We generally ask that guardians do not visit crews in hopes to provide an immersive experience for your child. If you would like our staff to drop off a care package or note, we are more than happy to do so! Your child will thrive and return with many stories to share!
What happens in the event there is bad weather?
The Expedition program is an outdoor experience and dealing with weather such as rain and heat is part of that experience. Be sure to bring rain gear and bug spray! We’ll ensure crew members are staying hydrated, have adequate nutrition, and change their socks. If extreme weather approaches, the crew will evacuate to a safe location.
Do you carry firearms into the wilderness?
No, firearms are not allowed at a Montana Conservation Corps camp or project sites. Crews will have bear spray available and proper food storage.
How do you keep crews safe from wildlife?
Seeing wildlife is a part of the experience. During member orientation leaders will review safe practices around wildlife, including minimum distances, proper food storage, and not traveling alone. Our Expedition Leaders also go through training on when and how to use bear spray.
What does a typical day look like?
Days can vary but always start early. Youth should expect to complete service projects on weekdays, and participate in team-building activities, icebreakers, education, and other activities typically from 8-4:30. Two breaks and a half an hour lunch occur each day. After the daily project, crews who are on an overnight project will complete dinner and chore duties for the evening. Days may be demanding, but we keep them fun. Bring your favorite card or yard games!
Can I contact my youth in the field?
Our programs are designed to focus heavily on the crew community. Developing the team in such an abbreviated amount of time is fostered through deliberate programming. By limiting interaction, we see the experiential education benefits improve greatly for each individual and the team as a whole. Emergencies are certainly an exception and staff will coordinate communication.
How should youth prepare for the Expedition?
First, Celebrate! Your teen is about to take on new challenges. The experience will be transformational. Review our In the Field page to get a sense of what to pack and some of our policies. You can also review our Krew Blogs to see what previous youth crew members said about their experiences.
We also encourage that they go hiking while wearing the boots and a loaded backpack they will be using on the Expedition. This will help condition your child for the adventure ahead.
What gear does my youth need?
Look over the gear list on our In The Field page, and know you can borrow quality gear from MCC. You can also buy gear at a thrift shop, a local used gear store, or REI Garage Sales. Try to test your gear out before starting with MCC, especially your boots!
Don't have any gear?
MCC provides group camping gear and has sleeping bags, pads, backpacks, and assorted other gear available. We have scholarships available for essential purchases like boots or rain gear. If you have questions or concerns about your gear needs, please contact staff immediately. We’ll do our best to make sure gear is not a barrier for anyone participating on an Expedition crew.