2016 CBC In Montana

2016 CBC In Montana

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Last Long Day

Friday marked our last day at DLSBS and also in Montana. It has been a very rewarding trip and the boys are already talking about coming back.

In school Friday true to form we spent some time doing little projects for Br. Dale. Things like: cleaning up rooms, helping prep snack, taking out trash and the such. The boys also continued to serve as readers for the last two NWEA Map tests. The DLSBS students had started forming a bond as is the case and were lamenting the boys leaving. After a good day of work the CBC boys said their goodbyes and we headed back to Glacier Park for a 3rd visit. 

This time we journeyed north to the Many Glacier area. This area is usually a good place to see wildlife, but is also very scenic area nestled into a mountain valley. On our way in we ran into a heard of Big Horned Sheep that were blocking the roadway. We needed some assistance from the ranger to get through. While near the Many Glacier Hotel we enjoyed Swiftcurrent Lake and the nearby falls. 

When we were leaving a couple helped us spot some Mountain goats way up on the hillside. The main highlight though was seeing a young Male Moose on our way out. This is a pretty rare sighting so close to the road.

After Many Glacier we headed south to Two Medicine Grill for dinner. In my five previous visits I had never seen it so crowded. The boys enjoyed Huckleberry shakes, Buffalo Burgers and a trip to the trading post.

We also witnessed a high speed chase involving 5 police cars right through East Glacier.

Upon arriving back at the bunkhouse it was packing time and the boys worked hard to clean th bunkhouse and pack their gear. We departed the Mission at about 2:30 am and arrived safely in Great Falls for our 6:00 am flight.

Next stop St. Louis (with a detour to Minneapolis) See you soon.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Buffet of a Day

Thursday was a huge day at the school and for the immersion students. Much of it was typical school excitement and there were unique events that we have never seen before. So the catalog for the day included Standardized Testing for the DLSBS students, Mass and our Official Ranger led Hike at Glacier National Park.

The Students at DLSBS, are getting ready to enter into a new formalized curriculum and before they do that the administration wanted a baseline on the ability levels of the students in the school. Much like CBC they want to be able to measure the learning process. DLSBS utilizes the NWEA MAP test in 4 areas. The test is the same that CBC uses but for the specific grade levels here at DLSBS. Our students were asked to serve as test readers for the MAP, many of the students get accommodations similar to what some kids at CBC would get. The first of the 4 sessions lasted right up until Mass and true to Murphy's Law they had network and internet issues that cropped up first thing in the morning.

We had already experienced Mass at the Little Flower Church adjacent to DLSBS, but today was a special day. We were witness to 2 Baptisms of DLSBS students and 7 First Communions. It was really special that the CBC boys got to witness this Sacramental moment with the kids. Many of the families were in attendance and the Church was busting at the seams with people there to celebrate with the 4th graders experiencing this special moment.

We quickly snarfed down our lunch while waiting for the Immersion Coordinator to be ready to leave and then we journeyed to St. Mary's an area of Glacier Park just north of Browning. St. Mary's Lake is a huge body of water right at this Eastern entrance to the Park and is the Gateway to the Going to the Sun Road, which is a scenic drive through Logan Pass, the highest pass in the Park. We took a 2.5 mile hike near the lake with our Park Guide Ittai, a National Park Services Ranger. We got to visit an early Ranger station, a enormous Beaver Lodge and Dam and several landmarks on the trail. He talked about the diverse ecosystem in Glacier and how unique it is. One of the areas we visited was a burned portion of the park from the 2006 fire. The boys finished off the hike by skipping rocks into the St. Mary's Lake.

That evening was supposed to be our dinner out at Two Medicine Grill, but considering that it snowed the entire hike and was getting worse we decided that we would work our way back to the Mission and enjoyed dinner there. In the end the Mission got around 4 inches of snow and Browning got about 6 inches of snow. We think that the Eastern part of the Park had upwards of 10 inches. To all that we came across it was no big deal. The roads were clear and it was interesting to see how easily everyone got around.

After supper at the Mission the challenge was finally thrown down and the rules were drawn for a swim in the Two Medicine River. So we had two boys who took up the charge and continued the tradition of swims in the River. This was the first time the temperature was freezing and snow was on the ground but it was good fun had by all. We also had a contingent that marched to the top of the Buffalo jumps in the snow and I thoroughly enjoyed that. It was one of the picturesque scenes that I have seen.

We are on the the verge of wrapping up our trip and I will try to have one more blog post Friday Night and then again as a wrap up to the trip. LIVE JESUS IN OUR HEARTS.....FOREVER!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Getting Over the Hump

So Wednesday marked the halfway point on our journey here at DLSBS. The CBC boys are in high spirits. Some of the boys are battling a little head cold but every time Mr. Gerdes and I ask they all say they are doing fine. It is a testament to the fact that they do not want to miss anyting.

 The boys who are working with the 4th graders got to go on their field trip to the Boone and Crockett Club. The highlight was a hike that looked at vegetation and signs of wildlife. They saw several White Tailed Deer, Red Tailed Hawks and the remains of an Elk.

The remainder of the CBC boys worked in the classrooms and continued to make connections with the students and teachers. You can see the mix of emotions on their faces. They are bummed out that the trip is half over and they are excited the they are 4 days away from their summer vacation. Wednesday was also the longest day in the classroom. Mid day the boys were treated to a visit by a two local artists who showed off their artwork and offered some pieces for sale. It was a nice break up day since the school day went till 4:30 pm and included their enrichment class and their study hall. Typically at this time of year as school prepares to close the dismissal time is 3:15 pm.

At the end of the day we were pleasantly surprised to have a guest speaker who is a recent DLSBS graduate. Marla is a high school Sophomore at Browning High School and had a short Q and A with our boys about High School life and reservation life. Questions about hobbies, classroom and school issues and horses were of great interest to the CBC boys.

That evening while trying to follow the Blues progress we had another Guest Speaker. Mrs. Davis talked to the boys about the History of the Blackfeet (Pikuni / Piegan). The CBC boys were in awe of the subtle and not so subtle racism and prejudice that still exists for the Native American people. The Blackfeet point of view of significant historical events is one that most of us do not take into consideration. The look on our boys faces when they were told that the Native Americans have only been considered U.S. citizens for 92 years was striking. They also got a lesson on the resiliency of the Blackfeet and their proud culture.

All in all it was another great day for the 2016 CBC Immersion Group. Tomorrow will bring another set of challenges and experiences. Until Then, Live Jesus in Our Hearts....FOREVER!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Grind it Out The Dog Days of a Mission Trip

So with the group arriving on Saturday night, having a relaxing day on Sunday at Glacier National Park and Monday having the excitement of being at the school for the first day, I think the boys hit a bit of wall mentally on Tuesday. The comments are overwhelmingly positive, but the work in the school can be a challenge. The teachers in the school are faced with daily disruption from the students and utilizing an Immersion Student is sometimes hard to do. Having to do your job and also give a meaningful experience to a volunteer would be a tremendous challenge. The end of the year challenges all teachers face is just another distraction to the daily grind of teaching and learning. The DLSBS students can taste the freedom of summer vacation and so can the CBC boys. Nonetheless the boys are getting great hands on experience and being challenged in ways they probably did not imagine.

Some of our boys got the opportunity to act out part of the sacraments in religion and if they messed up they were Nerf attacked. Many of the CBC boys were supporting students in reading and Math and some had to sit idly by while students completed tests (but not too long). It may not be the most meaningful experience to do basic tasks, but to the DLSBS teachers it is extremely helpful when the Immersion students can run an errand or grade a few papers.

My favorite part of the day is connecting what happens here at DLSBS to what happens at all schools, even CBC. They see first hand how a disruptive student can mess up a whole lesson and they were telling their own tales of incidents at CBC. Drawing those connections makes this all the more real. Listening to the CBC boys conversations when they think you are asleep or not listening gives you the real perspective. They are being challenged and pushed, physically, emotionally and intellectually.

The night evening featured our first guest speaker, Mrs. Rides at the Door and her husband. She teaches Native studies to the DLSBS students. As an integral part of the spirituality and cultural piece of what happens at DLSBS, her historical perspective and understanding of the social challenges facing the Blackfeet (Pikuni / Southern Piegan) is important. The connection between Christianity and the Native American Spirituality is significant and we have heard more than once the old American / Evangelization adage "Kill the Indian, but save the Man". That old way of thinking is something that is changing to allow the Blackfeet to rediscover their heritage.

As the night came to an end the boys ventured out of the Mission to tell ghost stories down by the river and to get cell service up at the cemetery. Wednesday will feature another field trip, a visit from a local artist and the first day of school with ALL the students and Brother Dale (the 7th grade was on a school trip and Brother was out of town on business). Till next time, Live Jesus in our Hearts....FOREVER!!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Snow, Rain and Field Trips

So the one bad thing about writing the blog for our trips is that you only get my perspective on what is going on during the Mission Trip. Last year we experimented with having the guys write blog posts and even though it was not a failure it was one more thing for them to worry about and they already have so much on their plate.

First and foremost they are doing really well and they are having a great time. The first day of actual mission work had us awake to a dusting of snow and the day was primarily rainy and snowy. The start of the week was pretty standard for the trip. Basketball in the gym. Getting to know the teachers and staff and finding the lay of the land. The seven boys who stayed back at De La Salle Blackfeet did the traditional working in the classroom. Some read to students and went over school work. Some graded papers to help one of the teachers get caught up. In talking with the boys today was feeling out process, which is normal. The DLSBS kids were trying to figure out the CBC boys and the CBC boys were trying to figure out the DLSBS kids. By all accounts right after lunch it was all figured out. It is really amazing how these boys and kids today can relate and connect when they really want to.

So snow was not the only exciting thing that happened, three of our boys and yours truly ventured with the 5th grade class to the Boone and Crockett Club at Triple Divide Ranch. The club bought and took over the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation ranch in the '80's and runs all kinds of wildlife conservation programs from their lodge. The trip was about 45 miles south of Browning near the town of Dupyer and on the edge of the Bob Marshall wilderness. The ride down was easy enough, but the rain and snow was an interesting obstacle on May 9th. The indoor classroom portion allowed the students from DLSBS (and our boys from CBC) to learn about the difference between a Conservation area and a Preservation area as well as getting to look at motion capture photos of all kinds of native wildlife. They saw photos of Bears, Elk, Deer, Bobcat, Lynx, Mountain Lion and a bunch more. These were all found on the Boone and Crockett property. They followed that up with a Lab of pelt identification of native animals. You can see a ton of these pictures in the Newly linked photo album. After enjoying a relaxing lunch we waited out the snow (they had a bout 3-4 inches) we did a fire building activity and talked about what you should have on any outdoor wilderness activity. Finally, we ventured outside for a short hike and to experiment with building wilderness survival shelters. Unfortunately my phone locked up and I could not get any pictures. We wrapped up the field trip with some cocoa and some time around the fireplace before the journey back to Browning, MT.

The boys had a ton of stories to share and I am sure they will have other stories that will crop up. The 4th grade goes to Boone and Crockett Wednesday and 7th grade returns on Wednesday from their class trip to Yellowstone. The week will offer many more exciting opportunities. Tuesday night we will have our first of 3 guest speakers. Good Night all, LIVE JESUS IN OUR HEARTS!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mass, Mother's Day and Mother Earth

Today was a day of transition for the 2016 CBC Montana Mission Trip. We arrived at The Holy Family Mission around 10:30 last night and we spent some time getting settled in before a good nights rest. 

Sunday we woke for a relaxed morning before heading to Mass. Fr. Ed had a wonderful homily for Mother's Day and our boys were encouraged to reach out to home.

We then visited Glacier National Park and took an awesome hike up to Aster Point. The view of the Two Medicine Lake Valley was breath taking. We discussed many of the things they will experience this week and had a great afternoon.

Our day wrapped up with dinner provided by the Community at the Mission and we got to visit with an old friend, Michael Hairsine '07.

Tonight the boys will get their class assignments and the boys in the 4th and 5th grade classes will get to go on field trips with the school.

It is shaping up to be a great trip.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Here We Go Again

Another trip to Montana, and it never fails to put a smile on my face. The opportunity to get away, live and work in community cannot be undersold as a great way to approach service. These 10 Juniors are embarking on a trip that will be transformative for them and for their point of view of the world. How can I be so sure? Because it has done that for me the last 4 years and because each year I get a tremendous response from the boys who go on this trip. They always can't wait to go back. 

I cannot imagine 2016 will be any different. This is the 5th group I (and Jim) have taken to DeLaSalle Blackfeet. The boys all have great outlooks and perspectives on the trip. They eagerly anticipate the experience. Hopefully we can share some of that over the course of the week. 

Live Jesus In Our Hearts...