2014 CBC In Montana

2014 CBC In Montana

Friday, May 23, 2014

Almost the End

Thursday marked the reality that the trip is rapidly coming to a close. The boys are starting to miss home just a bit and they have missed out on some cool things going on around school. That is what makes the sacrifice of going on an immersion trip so special. While most of their friends are back in St. Louis doing very noble work, the reality is that they can pull up roots and go to the Volleyball and Lacrosse games. These guys in Montana are having to follow via twitter from Mr. Merris. We were all excited to hear about Volleyball Thursday night and that followed with a measure of disappointment that they would not be back in town in time to see the Finals.

During the day on Thursday we attended Mass with the school at Little Flower Parish. Fr. Ed gave a nice homily and the boys were great examples of participation and behavior in Mass. Afterwards 2 of the classes left for field trips and we stayed behind to mow the parish's grass and to weed eat around the grounds. They also did some other manual chores around the building as the DSLSBS will close for the summer next week.

After school we headed back to the Mission, the next objective was swimming in Two Medicine River. This river is fed by the Glaciers in Glacier National Park and flows down eventually joining the Missouri River. The water is extremely cold but our boys (and Mr. Gerdes) braved a swim or two or three. Since it was apparent no one was swimming across, several boys jumped off the bank and floated down to the gravel bar. Take a look at the pictures witch will have photos of the escapade.

We then came back cleaned up a bit, packed a bit, had supper and then the boys journeyed to the Buffalo Jumps again with a little help from a ride from Bro. Ray.

The night concluded with some star gazing before we all turned in for the night. My final thought is that Friday is going to be jam packed with work at the school, cleaning up the rest of the way and going to the Park and catching the train.

We will be home soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Midway Point

Well on Wednesday we reached the midway point of our journey. Our ailing boys are getting back to normal and we had a pretty normal day at DLSBS. The CBC boys worked in the classrooms like normal and 4 of them along with Mr. Gerdes took some time out to visit "Medicine Bear" the local soup kitchen. Our contingent head up the road a bit to do some light labor and to serve food for the "homeless" in Browning.

Why did I put quotes around homeless. Well they are not really homeless since they have housing provided on the reservation. In many cases these are individuals who have been temporarily kicked out of their homes by their own families so that they can get their act together. Medicine Bear offers them food, a chance to get a shower and some clean clothes. It is an eye opening experience that unfortunately only half our group gets since they are closed the remainder of the week for the upcoming Holiday.

After a solid days work in the school we headed back to the Mission. We took some time to get some water and relax for a bit before we climbed the Buffalo Jumps. About a half a mile up from the Mission there is a series of bluffs and hills that served as the primary hunting method for the Blackfeet. They would hide members of the tribe among the Buffalo disguised. They would scare the Buffalo into a stampede and guide the stampede toward the cliff. At the bottom there would be Blackfeet women who would clean up the Buffalo where they would use nearly every part of the Buffalo. The climb up the Buffalo Jumps is usually something we do on day 1 after we get in. With the change in plans we did this later on.

What is remarkable is the way the CBC students get along and work in community. There has been no bickering or complaining and they seem to get along very well. They have helped clean up after meals and are great about saying Thank You.

We ended our evening watching the movie "Smoke Signals", which is about life on the reservation and the challenges of dealing with prejudice and stereotypes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We Switch It Up

On Tuesday we had to change up our plans just a bit due planned and unplanned events. 

Out two young men in the 6th grade class had to fill in for a couple of our guys who got a slight stomach bug (don't worry all is good now). The 6th grade had their class trip to Great Falls for fun and food. We stayed behind to help in the school. The immersion students continued tutoring and reading with the DLSBS students. In some cases they were helping set up for the presentations that evening.

After school they visited with Mr. Harry Barnes a local business man who discussed the economics of reservation life. He also discussed his family history and the historical cultue shift of the Blackfeet. He gave perspective of how poverty can impact drug and alcohol abuse.

That evening the CBC boys stuck around and listened to the 7th and 8th grade presentations on the cultural history of the Blackfeet. The presentations served a good lesson for all about research, preparation and history. In some cases they helped the students prepare. They got a great glimpse of what teachers deal with.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Real Work has Begun

Monday morning as the boys work began in the classrooms you could feel the anticipation from both the CBC students and the DLSBS students. It proved to be a productive day. We have 2 students working in each of the 4th, 5th and 6th grades and 1 student each in the 7th and 8th grades. Most of what the students are doing is working through Math, Reading and helping proof read presentations that will be given on Tuesday evening.

The comments from our boys has been tremendous. "Love it" was made by more than one of the CBC boys. Most of the classes went through a Q & A to learn about each other and it did not take long for a bond to be made between the both sets of students.

As we wrapped up the day and talked about what happened our kids realized that these kids are not as different from them as they thought and the stage has been set for a great week.

The boys spent the early evening walking down by the Two Medicine River, but no one has ventured a swim yet. We will see if that changes over the course of the week.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 1 We See Not 1 But 2 Bears

Having done these mission trips for CBC for a few years now we had gotten accustomed to doing things a certain way. Well nothing like changing things up. Brother Ray offered us the opportunity to flip things and go to Glacier Park on the front end of our trip. It gave us more time in the park and some flexibility in what we got to do.

So after an overnight train ride, we went to the mission got a chance to settle in and clean up. We then attended Mass and Little Flower Parish and we got to see First Communion as part of 10:30 Mass. It was nice to get to witness this and was a great catalyst for the day. Following we went to the school, took a quick tour and then got lunch which we ate on our way to the Two Medicine area of the Park. We took a couple of walks in the area and even though we are visiting 2 weeks later than we have in years past there was more snow than we have seen before, by a large margin.

Following our visit to the Two Medicine area, Brother Ray took us to Looking Glass Hill, which over looks the Park and then we briefly visited the St. Mary's part of the park. The real treat was going to Many Glacier which is another 20 miles North of there. Many Glacier is usually a great place to view wildlife and gives another unique view of the park. On the way in we did not see much in the way of wildlife but we did enjoy great views and great weather. We took a short hike up along a rocky hill above the two lakes. From there we spotted our first wildlife. Two Mountain Goats were rambling along the hill headed down to get some food and a drink. We got a closer look as we got back on the Bus to head back to the mission. By this point we were all bleary eyed and tired. The boys were dozing off in the back of the Bus and I was well on my way. I kept looking back and forth and then I saw it out of the corner of my eye. A large black Bear. We are not sure whether it was a Grizzly or a Black Bear. Color is not the deciding factor and Brother Ray is getting the pictures verified. It was awesome to see and we safely viewed our new friend for a good 10-15 minutes as it ate in the brush.

At that point we were pretty satisfied and also much more alert when less than a quarter of mile away we saw another Bear in a clearing. This one had the traditional coloring of a Grizzly but we cannot be 100% sure. This guy was keenly aware of the bus and regularly looked up at us before meandering up in the thicket making it hard to see.

This was an extremely rewarding wildlife siting and the best in my three years on the trip, as we rested on the way back to the mission you could tell the boys were excited for the week. The evening culminated with a nice meal put on by Brother Dale and one of the Lasallian volunteer Teachers Kelly. Brats, Spaghetti, Salad and Brownies filled us up.

Next up is the first real day of work. We start our work early on Monday morning and it is shaping up to be a great week of work.

Check out Pictures at: https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#ABG6XBubJu78N0

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Underrated Spokane

As we have visited Spokane Washington today it is very clear that this is an underrated city to visit. The falls are beautiful, the weather is perfect and we had a very enjoyable day as we wait to ride the train to do our work in Montana.

Check out pictures of our trip so far at: Montana Trip 2014:

23 hours in Spokane Washington

So we made it to Spokane Washington without too many hiccups other than a little bit of a delayed flight coming out of Denver we have had a good time so far no incidents to report these boys have been great they're taking everything in doing well and being just like we would expect CBC boys to be.

Today we will tour Spokane Washington will get to see Gonzaga University the Spokane falls. In general we just get to see one of the cities in the great Northwest before we catch the train out of Spokane to glacier national Park tonight.

Tomorrow our work will begin in Browning Montana will get the tour of the school we will go to mass, see the community as a whole before we start tutoring in earnest on Monday morning.