How great is it that for two weeks of this month I tented in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness Area, tucked away in wild Idaho, with the rest of the Montana Conservation Corps? Sharing cooking responsibilities, sharing a pit toilet, sharing the fresh mountain air (a far walk from the pit toilet), but most importantly sharing a very unique MCC funded training. Technical Training (the official title) was compilation of three training sessions. Each session was taught by a staff of outdoor professionals for a three day period of time. Two regions of the MCC were paired together for each training session, for example: Billings was paired with the MCC Crew Leaders from Kalispell. We traveled through our three sessions with the Kalispell group. It wasn't long before we began to know their favorite lunch choices, their corny jokes, and their interesting life stories. The three sessions that we completed, in the order that we completed them, were: Trail Work, Chainsaw/Crosscut Saw, Backcountry camping/hiking.
Though there were no shower facilities at the campground where we stayed or at the nearest town, we rarely thought about how dirty we were becoming. Each day was a day of hands-on learning, in addition to the honing of skills we are sure to use over the next couple of months. Most nights we could barely stay awake to enjoy the campfire and occasional s'mores. Our exhausted minds and muscles beckoned us to finish the day tucked cozily into our sleeping bags, listening to the sounds of the night.
We made it back to Billings last weekend, enough time to catch our breaths. On Monday the Youth Crew Leaders are headed to Belgrade, MT to enjoy another couple of training sessions on the MCC dollar. These seven days will be spent learning the all important skills of youth supervision, as well as a few days of Wilderness First Aid. Should be another incredible experience. We even get a recreation day on Friday for a trip into Yellowstone National Park. This organization rocks! Who wouldn't want to be involved with the MCC?