Youth Backpacking Trip

Justin Matthews, Park County

Southwest Montana Prevention, Park Connect Youth Group, Park County Youth Courts, and Crazy Mountain Ventures Wilderness Guides put together our first annual youth backpacking trip. This trip consisted of a two-day 14-mile hike to an alpine lake in the Crazy Mountains. The kids learned the history of Crazies, leadership skills, backcountry cooking, teamwork and risk management. There were also moments of reflection, meditation and gratitude talks around the campfire. The wilderness guides had a wonderful itinerary written out, which they would stop and read every couple miles. There were wilderness stories, quotes, leadership skills and backcountry skills scattered throughout the itinerary. The kids learned how to work as a team to get through and succeed on a very tough and strenuous hike. Two of the kids have never been in the mountains before and it was life changing for them. The whole experience was amazing. Youth had to cook their own food and put together their own camp, it was incredible to watch.  Seeing kids, who previously had no interest in the backcountry, succeed and work together as team was priceless. We got donations throughout the county to help put this on. None of these youth had any backcountry clothing or gear, all was provided by us. Our plan is to have one of these trips every year, with hopes of extending the trip a couple more days as well as recruiting more and more youth.

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