WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
When you choose to serve as an MCC Youth Member, you will challenge yourself and make a commitment to be part of tight-knit crew that lives and works together. MCC is a challenging opportunity and a big commitment. For that reason, we've compiled some information and answered frequent questions.
Get ready for an amazing experience!
What qualifications do the Youth Crew 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. Their service begins with an intensive Leadership Development Program, which will provide them with all of the training, reinforcement and feedback necessary to develop into an effective leader. Our Program objectives include: communication and team skills, leadership skills, environmental stewardship, technical field skills, and the development of a strong service ethic.
In addition to on the job training and feedback, specific training provided includes:
- Wilderness Advanced First Aid
- Leadership skills training including communication, feedback, group development
- Technical skills training including trail building, backcountry travel and 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.
We ask our Youth Crew Leaders to maintain professionalism and not associate with Youth Crew Members outside of their MCC experience while they are serving.
My child has never camped before; can she/he still participate in Expedition?
Yes! Camping and packing skills will be introduced during orientation. Expedition members learn camp skills over the course of the session from our Youth Crew Leaders. Most important is the desire and willingness to be outdoors for an extended period.
Are siblings allowed on the same crew?
We try to avoid placing siblings on the same crew, simply so youth can have a chance to meet others. Please contact your regional staff for more information or if this accommodation needs to be considered.
Do Youth Crew 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.
Can my child participate in both summer sessions or join for a second season?
They can certainly apply. A lot will depend upon the number of applications we have. It’s probably best to be involved in only one summer session each year. The program is demanding and most youth want to take some time off during the summer.
Can I send packages to my child?
Ask during parent orientation. MCC staff regularly visit crews, and arrangements can be made in advance if you coordinate with the regional office.
Are cell phones allowed?
Cell phones and other electronics (excluding cameras) detract from crew dynamics and are not allowed. Instead, you'll have an opportunity to make phone calls in the middle of the hitch.
Can I visit the Expedition crew on a project?
During the parent orientation you can discuss this possibility with MCC staff. Visits might involve stopping by to bring a dessert, eat dinner with the crew, or even volunteer alongside for a day on the project; but generally we don't allow an overnight stay. The majority of parents do not visit the crews. Your child will thrive!
My child has mental health issues? Can they join a crew?
MCC leaders are not licensed to dispense medication nor are they licensed counselors. The utmost concern will be the safety and well being of your child and the other members of the crew. Crews are not always in easily accessible areas and have limited contact with service so outside support may not always be available. Talk to MCC regional staff about your particular child to see if it would be a good fit for their abilities.
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 service award, pay for graduation events, and any recreation expenses.
How often do crews check in with regional staff?
Typically a weekly schedule is set for the leaders to check in with the Montana Conservation Corps regional staff. There may be other times established as needed.
If we can’t afford gear, what can we do?
MCC provides group camping gear and has limited sleeping bags, backpacks, and assorted other gear available. We have limited scholarships available for essential purchases like boots or raingear. 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 your child participating on an Expedition crew.
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 for your child. We’ll ensure they 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 if appropriate.
How do you keep crews safe from wildlife?
Seeing wildlife is a part of the experience. But safety is the most important element. During orientation leaders will review with the members safe practices around wildlife, including minimum distances, proper food storage, and not travelling alone.
How should youth prepare for the Expedition?
First and foremost you should be supportive of your child’s decision to join the program. The experience will be transformational. 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 does a typical day look like?
Days can vary, but always start early. Youth should expect to complete service projects on week days, 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.
Are we able to contact our teen?
Our programs are designed to focus heavily on the crew community. Developing the team in such abbreviated amounts of time is fostered through deliberate programming. By restricting interaction with outside influences, we see the experiential education benefits improve greatly, for each individual and the team as a whole. Emergencies are certainly an exception, and there may be times when some of the longer-term Expedition programs (4 weeks) are provided an opportunity to check in with family.
What if we live outside a regional office community?
We accept participants statewide, from all communities. MCC will make determinations for best, most flexible locations once applications are received. In addition, 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, Montana youth will be prioritized over youth who reside out of state. Even in the rare circumstances when an out-of-state youth is considered for a position, it will only be in situations where that youth has family residing in state, who are willing to serve as host families and emergency contacts who are available for the duration of the session.
What gear does my child need?
Once accepted, your regional staff will provide a gear list. Look over the gear list, but know you can rent or borrow quality gear from MCC. You can also buy gear at a thrift shop. It’s easier to stay warm and dry than it is to get warm and dry, and both you and your crew will be happy you did. Try to test your gear out before starting with MCC, especially your boots!