2017 Montana Youth Range Camp was co–hosted by the Cascade and Upper Musselshell Conservation Districts. Camp was held at the McFarland White Ranch near Two Dot from July 10-14. It was a spectacular setting for the 5 day event. Located at the base of the Crazy Mountains on the far north end, the views were awesome. The ranch provided a diverse ecosystem, from cottonwood galleries to foothills to forest. 21 campers shared 2 barn lofts for sleeping quarters, ate under a cook tent, went for hoot owl hikes at night, and got an up close and personal tour of the Gordon Butte Hydro Wind Project. Campers received hands on classes in hydrology, soils, rangelands, weeds, and wildlife.
The camp instructors are specialists from the NRCS, DNRC and other natural resource professions. These instructors are the heart of camp, and without their employers’ support and their personal dedication, camp would not happen. They make time in their busy summer schedules to stay on site with campers and provide a fun and friendly outdoor learning environment. The hosting Conservation Districts are the organizers and the backbone for camp. They take care of all arrangements including facilities, fun activities, food, and all other details that make camp run like a well-oiled machine.
At the beginning of camp, the kids are presented with a resource problem by the hosting ranch. At the end of the week, the campers present solutions to the hosting ranch for how to address the problem. Awards are given for top presentation as well as top placers in the range ID and knowledge contest, which campers are tested on every morning. The top scorers receive the all-coveted belt buckles.
In the end, Montana Youth Range Camp is about keeping the next generation engaged in making Montana’s largest natural resource healthy and productive for future generations. Next year’s Montana youth Range Camp will be at the Eastern Montana Bible Camp, co-hosted by Richland and Dawson Conservation Districts, on July 8-11. Check out this web site next April for more information.