May 20th came around at an amazing speed for many of us and the excitement in MCC’s Helena office that day was palpable. Each person bringing their own collection of thoughts and experiences to the table, we were all ready to begin our next big adventure. That eagerness was somewhat suppressed by the meetings on policy and expectations, necessary information for our term. The excitement was brought back when we were corralled outside to perform the AmeriCorps pledge led by none other than Mike Cooney, Montana’s Lieutenant Governor. The sense of community was astounding, each of us swearing in our commitment to this program and to bettering not only ourselves but our communities.

Day two of our orientation week was even more thrilling. After a morning of training on mind styles, diversity and inclusion, and misconduct we loaded up into our trucks and proceeded to Moose Creek Campground where we would spend the next two nights. To say that the weather was grisly would be an understatement. Dark clouds stretched across the sky and rain poured down on everyone setting up camp and kitchens. You could assume that everyone would be miserable and in a terrible mood from the awful conditions. You would also have been wrong, everywhere you went around the campsite you were greeted by smiling faces and jokes aplenty. Everyone’s love of where they were and what they signed up for transcended the weather and created a warm community. The gathering point for these people was created when a group of MCC members were able to get a small fire going using whatever partially dry materials they could find.
We woke up to a break in the rain, a sign of what was to come later in the day and after eating breakfast with our teams we started a day of learning new skills. Each station that day taught us valuable skills necessary for our hitches. From maps to knots and bear hangs to filtration we acquired the means to survive our time in the back and front country. Each session the rain started to lessen and the sun found gaps in the clouds to shine down upon us, warming our skin and our morale.

After clearing the ice from the night before off our rain flies we left the first taste of camping for the season behind us and headed back into Helena. Our day was met with an action-filled first-aid and CPR training by one Wild Bill and his wife Lady Louise. After “putting new tools in our toolboxes” as Wild Bill would put it we walked back to the office to find out our permanent teams. While it could have been a simple list off of whos on what team the team leaders really upped the game for us. Hidden around the offices’ backyard were pieces of paper with our names and a snippet of lyrics ranging all across the musical spectrum from Old Town Road to the Pokemon theme song. Back in the parking lot was the team leaders blasting their song of choice from the truck stereos, a truly unique and unforgettable way to find out your team

Joining the Montana Conservation Corps may not have been the easiest decision that some of us may have made but armed with the help of a stellar staff, team leaders, and one another I’m confident that we can make it through a life-changing season of aiding communities and the wilderness.


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