Middle School and Junior High: Throwback Family Roadtrip

Our Middle School and Junior High trips are open to 6th-9th grade. These adventures are designed to help adolescents build self-confidence and lifelong friendships. Rather than a hardcore backpacking trip, these trips are closer to a family road trip, with all the classic ingredients for self-discovery, genuine character growth and a lifetime of memories.

 

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GIRLS' TRIP

2018 Girls' Trip Dates: July 2nd-July 17th 

Fly into Great Falls, MT and out of Missoula, MT

Video made by Wild Kid, Emma Schaberg. 

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

General Framework

The adventure begins near the Rocky Mountain Front, where the vast Great Plains meet the iconic Rocky Mountains. Students fly into Great Falls, Montana, where they are met by the Ranch Crew and shuttled thirty minutes to the 120 acre, Wild Spirit Ranch. They spend their first few days on the ranch, acclimating to the new climate and altitude, learning about horsemanship, completing daily ranch chores, and spending time with the 14 horses, 2 donkeys, 21 chickens, 3 dogs, 5 goats, one pack of coyotes and the occasional rattle snake.

From the ranch, the group heads to the Big Snow Mountains to explore the incredible ice caves. Then, they venture to Glacier National Park for camping and hiking in some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. In the park, students explore climate change firsthand by hiking to melting glaciers and listening to stories from Blackfeet elders and park rangers who bare witness to the dramatic changes as each season passes. When the students leave Glacier, they travel to the heart of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation where they join in pow wow celebrations, complete a service project, and watch the Indian Relays where warriors race bareback on four different horses.

Depending on the dates of  pow wow, after the celebration, the group heads over the famous "Going To The Sun" road to the other side of the mountains where they are hosted by Bill and Linda Brownell in the small town of Polson on the Salish and Kootenai Indian Reservation. Bill and Linda take the students boating on Flathead Lake and provide hours of entertainment with pingpong, basketball and foosball. To finish up the trip, the students travel South to Missoula where they experience class 3 rapids on the Alberton Gorge whitewater raft trip, enjoy a soak in backcountry hot springs and spend their last night sharing stories and appreciations around a campfire before heading home to Hawai'i. 

Please note, on certain years, depending on trip dates and logistics, certain aspects of the above itinerary may not be available.


“There is nothing more inspiring or empowering than finding your own trail and teaching others to do the same!”
— Leah Qiu, Wild Guide, Wild Kids Alumna, 2014

 

BOYS' TRIP

2018 Boys' Trip Dates: June 30th-July 15th

FLY INto GREAT FALLS, MT and out of Missoula, mt

To sum it up: 21 guys, 3 weeks, 3 minivans, 300 miles of road tripping and camping around the wilds of Montana...getting some young fellas from Hawaii out for mainland adventure!

Video by Wild Guide, Noah Pomeroy.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:

General Framework

The adventure begins near the Rocky Mountain Front, where the vast Great Plains meet the iconic Rocky Mountains. Students fly into Great Falls, Montana, where they are met by the Ranch Crew and shuttled thirty minutes to the 120 acre, Wild Spirit Ranch. They spend their first few days on the ranch, acclimating to the new climate and altitude, learning about horsemanship, completing daily ranch chores, and spending time with the 14 horses, 2 donkeys, 21 chickens, 3 dogs, 5 goats, one pack of coyotes and the occasional rattle snake.

From the ranch, the group heads to the Big Snow Mountains to explore the incredible ice caves. Then, they venture to Glacier National Park for camping and hiking in some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. In the park, students explore climate change firsthand by hiking to melting glaciers and listening to stories from Blackfeet elders and park rangers who bare witness to the dramatic changes as each season passes. When the students leave Glacier, they travel to the heart of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation where they join in pow wow celebrations, complete a service project, and watch the Indian Relays where warriors race bareback on four different horses.

Depending on the dates of  pow wow, after the celebration, the group heads over the famous "Going To The Sun" road to the other side of the mountains where they are hosted by Bill and Linda Brownell in the small town of Polson on the Salish and Kootenai Indian Reservation. Bill and Linda take the students boating on Flathead Lake and provide hours of entertainment with pingpong, basketball and foosball. To finish up the trip, the students travel South to Missoula where they experience class 3 rapids on the Alberton Gorge whitewater raft trip, enjoy a soak in backcountry hot springs and spend their last night sharing stories and appreciations around a campfire before heading home to Hawai'i. 

Please note, on certain years, depending on trip dates and logistics, certain aspects of the above itinerary may not be available.


In Wild Kids, I found myself, I found my friends, and I found my favorite places to be. I figure I have a pretty good head start on life.
— Joey Braun, Wild Guide, Wild Kids Alumnus 2015

 

TRAVEL

GETTING TO and FROM MONTANA

What are the dates for our trip and where do we arrive/depart?

Middle School Boys (MSB)

  • Arrive June 30th into Great Falls 
  • Leave July 15th from Missoula

Middle School Girls (MSG):

  • Arrive July 2nd into Great Falls 
  • Leave July 17th from Missoula

High School Backpacking: 

  • Group 1: Arrive July 12th into Great Falls, MT
  • Group 2: Arrive July 19th into Missoula, MT
  • Both Groups: Leave July 29th from Missoula, MT

Who Books Our Tickets?

We prefer that all Wild Kids families go through Linda Brownell at Navigator Travel when booking flights. Linda handles all of our travel arrangements and works hard to ensure that students arrive at or near the same time. Even if you plan to book on your own, using miles or your own travel agent, please give Linda a call. It is very important that our flight arrivals and departures are coordinated.

NAVIGATOR TRAVEL
LINDA BROWNELL
406-883-5222


Which Flight Should We Take?

Each year, we work with Linda to determine the flight that is the most cost-effective for families. After Linda has determined the group flight, we ask that students flying in from other areas arrive within no more than 1 hour of the group arrival time. The driving time between the ranch and the airport is almost 45 minutes because of the dirt roads, so fewer trips to the airport is best. 

CAN WE DROP-OFF OR PICK-UP OUR CHILD IN MONTANA?

Absolutely! We highly recommend tacking this trip onto a family adventure. Please email Wild Kids Montana if you plan to either drop your child off in Great Falls or pick him/her up at the ranch. We will work with you to make this possible!

LUGGAGE

(WE PACK AS A TEAM IN ADVANCE!)

What type of bag should we bring as luggage?

Because it is absolutely imperative that everyone arrive in Montana with the right gear, we pack as a team in advance. This allows our Wild Guides and Junior Counselors to actually see what is going into each bag and ensure that no one is overpacking, under-packing, or misunderstanding the gear and clothing guidelines.

For Middle School trips, each student is assigned a "duffle buddy." Then, each duffle buddy pair receives a Wild Kids duffle bag to use for the duration of the trip. The duffle buddy pair will pack under the supervision of a Wild Guide or Junior Counselor. After packing, one duffle buddy is responsible for checking the bag to Montana and the other duffle buddy is responsible for checking the bag back to Hawai'i. If a student requires certain gear or clothing for other trips throughout the summer, this must be cleared by the attending packing guides and students and parents must sign a contract to commit to bringing the items removed from the duffle bag to Montana.

For High School Backpacking trips, we will pack our backpacking backpacks as a team in advance. These will be checked onto the plane. Students may also bring a small daypack to carry-on. 

ALL GEAR AND CLOTHING MUST BE READY FOR PACKING BY MAY 25TH. 

What do we bring as a carry-on?

For Middle School, you will carry-on your sleeping bag, sleeping pad and daypack.

For High School Backpacking, you will carry-on a small daypack.

 

PACKING LIST

Front Country Trip Packing List

(CLick here for printable PDF of gear List)

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Gear Tips!

1. If you’re not sure about something, always ask. You can also watch gear reviews and tutorials on REI's Outdoor Blog or Outside Magazine Gear Reviews (if you type your gear into the search option, you will find reviews worth reading). Putting in the extra time to learn about your gear options with your child is a great life lesson! 

A word of caution: Don't get too caught up in name brand gear. People have been enjoying the natural world for hundreds of years without the latest Patagonia down jacket or Big Agnes puffy sleeping bag. It's important to be prepared and there are definitely some brands that last much longer and are higher quality. But, don't be afraid to follow rule #2 below.

2. Borrow gear or buy it used. If you need something, let us know. We’re happy to help! The following websites carry discount outdoor gear: Sierra Trading PostCampmorREI Outlet

3. Less is more. Do not bring extra gear without checking with us first.

4. The weather in Montana is extreme. Packing the right gear is a serious safety precaution. Anyone arriving in Montana with missing items will be charged $50 per item. We are absolutely serious about packing!

Clothing

LABEL ALL OF YOUR ITEMS! (PARENTS, RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO DO THIS FOR YOUR CHILD; LET YOUR CHILD LABEL HIS/HER ITEMS SO THAT HE/SHE TAKES MORE OWNERSHIP OF THE GEAR AND THE TRIP.)

 1-2 Pair Quick-dry Hiking Pants (not jeans, non-cotton)

 1 Pair Jeans (for horsemanship and ranch work)

☐ 1 Pair of Sweat or Fleece Pants for Around camp

 2 Pairs Shorts (board shorts or athletic shorts are great!)

 1 Fleece Top (medium weight for warmth)

 1 Long Underwear Bottoms (polypropylene or wool)

☐ 1 Long Underwear Top (polypropylene or wool)

 2 Long sleeve shirts (1 lightweight, button-down for bug/sun protection; 1 non-cotton base-layer for warmth--smart-wool is great!)

 5-6 T-shirts or tank-tops

 Rain Jacket (this is for setting up camp in the rain, as it will offer more range of motion than a poncho)

 Poncho (no plastic ponchos; high quality; this is for hiking in the rain, as it will offer more body and pack cover than a rain jacket)

 Rain Pants (these are required, as it can get extremely cold very quickly and wet pants are a quick ticket to hypothermia)

 8-10 Pairs Socks (crew cut or mid-calf; 6 pairs must be non-cotton)

 8-10 Pairs Underwear/Boxers (optional)

 Swimming suit/trunks (board shorts can replace)

 Rash Guard (for sun protection on the river)

 Belt (if needed)

 Hiking Boots (or running shoes with good tread) 

 Slippers for Around Camp

 Winter Beanie

 Gloves (small cotton gloves are fine)

 Baseball Cap or Sun Hat

 Camp Towel (small quick dry towel, example)

Equipment

☐ Sleeping Bag (Middle School: 34 degree or below; example 1example 2; High School: 20 degree or below)
What to look for: degree rating, weight/packability. Down or synthetic are both fine in terms of material. Be sure to store your sleeping bag by either hanging it or keeping it in a very large bag so it maintains its loft.

☐ Compression Sack (example) Note: a waterproof compression sack is a worthwhile investment and is required for High School trip.

☐ Sleeping Pad (Thermarest or similar, example 1 non-inflatable, example 2 inflatable) Note: A sleeping pad is what keeps your body warm, as the cold ground is most responsible for sucking away your body heat. It is important to get a sleeping pad that can pack very small, but will also be warm. Inflatable sleeping pads tend to be a bit more comfortable, but many people swear by the foam z-rests as well. The thick, blue-foam sleeping pads will not work because they are too bulky.

☐ Camp Pillow (example). Note: this is a space issue, so getting a small, compressible pillow is quite important.

☐ Daypack (example 1example 2example 3). What to look for: must have waist belt and water bottle pockets, 25L minimum for Middle School, 40L minimum for High School, hydration pouch (optional) 

☐ Headlamp with extra batteries in ziplock bag (example)

☐ Sunglasses (optional)

☐ Whistle (many daypacks come with a built in whistle)

☐ 2 Bandanas (minimum)

☐ Pocket Knife and/or Multi-tool

☐ Wrist watch and compass

☐ 2-3 Lightweight Carabiners (these do not need to be climbing grade carabiners)

 2 Water Bottles (durable, 40 oz; Nalgene recommended; you can bring 1 insulated water bottle for hot beverages or you can bring a camp mug and stick to two non-insulated water bottles)  
Note: Camel Backs or similar hydration pouches are fine and can replace 1 bottle.

☐ High School Only: Mess Kit & Camp Mug (Chopsticks are great! Small, light collapsible bowl: example.)
 

Miscellaneous

☐ Journal and Pen/Pencil (required). Note: Wild Kids will provide the journals at a $5 fee, as we have a group journal decoration project that we will do together.

☐ Book to read (optional)

☐ Camera (optional) Note: phones cannot be used as cameras. 

☐ Binoculars (optional)

☐ Magnifying glass  (optional)

☐ Field guides (optional)

Toiletries (travel size)

☐ Sunscreen

☐ Chapstick (very important due to dry climate)

☐ Bug Repellant (optional if you have preferred brand; we provide all-natural repellant)

☐ Comb/brush

☐ Toothbrush (we provide biodegradable toothpaste in accordance with wilderness laws)

☐ Face Wash (optional if you have a preferred brand; we provide biodegradable soap)

☐ Deodorant(natural, preferably unscented in accordance with grizzly bear safety)

☐ Feminine Hygiene Products 

Do Not Bring!

These items will be provided by Wild Kids:

☐ Soap  

☐ Shampoo/Conditioner  

☐ Matches

☐ Tent  

☐ First Aid Kit

Important Note: Personal electronics are not allowed once you arrive to Montana. You are welcome to bring them for the plane ride. We will collect them upon arrival and return them on departure. Cell phones will be kept in a group bag and used only for set parent communication days.