High School Camp
Lace up your boots and come explore the Montana backcountry! High schoolers get to join two Bighorn staff members for three days and three nights of hiking along the State Line Trail, which follows the border between Montana and Idaho. Learn to cook with a camp stove, navigate with a compass, and develop all the skills needed to thrive in the wilderness. Whether you're brand new to hiking or already have a few miles worth of experience, this wilderness trek is a great way to learn more about backpacking.
But this isn't just about backpacking. After reaching the end of your route, vans will be loaded and ready for a day of whitewater adventures on the Clark Fork River! Why? Because floating an iconic river in Montana is the perfect way to end a week of adventure in the backcountry.
Take some time to unplug this summer and reflect on the important things in life. This trip is a great opportunity for you to discover strengths, develop leadership skills, and build confidence through challenging experiences. Hiking distances will vary by the group's ability, which will be determined by the group leaders throughout the hike. This group will be co-ed, with separate sleeping arrangements for guys and girls.
Hikers should arrive at Camp Bighorn on Monday, July 19th between 2pm and 5pm (if flying, please arrive at Missoula International Airport by 4pm, and a free shuttle will be available between the airport and Camp Bighorn). Dinner will be served at 6pm, personal gear will be inspected, group gear will be issued, and Bighorn staff will share best practices for properly loading your backpack. Monday night will be spent camping onsite at Camp Bighorn, where hikers will learn about spiritual themes for the trip and Leave No Trace principles for the trail.
Tuesday - Wednesday
After breakfast and a short devotional, each hiker will take solo time to process the theme of the day, pray, and practice stillness. Everyone will then pack up camp and set out for the trail, stopping at numerous lookouts featuring alpine lakes, river valleys, and unbroken forests. Along your hike, you will learn about local ecosystems, wilderness skills, and backcountry food storage. Dinners will take place around a campfire (pending forest conditions), followed by an evening reflection time and time to hang out before sleeping beneath the stars.
Throw your bag in the van and change into your river shoes, because it's time for some white water! The Clark Fork River offers paddlers beautiful scenery, including massive purple cliffs rising from the river, deep green pools separating rapids, sandy beaches, and open Ponderosa Pine forests. Paddlers often see beavers, bald eagles, deer, elk, otters, osprey, and even the occasional black bear. Rapids are often big, but navigating these features is fairly straightforward and non-threatening to the intermediate whitewater boater.
After you've conquered the waves, it's back to Camp Bighorn for one more night under the stars. You will unload any borrowed gear and learn how to properly clean items before storing them.
Before you pack up and head out, the group will gather to debrief the entire trip and discuss how your experiences on the trail can translate back to life at home. All hikers will need to make plans to leave Camp Bighorn by 2pm, and a free shuttle service will be available to the Missoula International Airport for those with afternoon or evening flights.
Cooking on camp stove, hanging a bear bag, understanding bear safety, Leave No Trace principles, using a compass, reading a map, proper campsite setup, and water filtration and purification.
At various points throughout the trip, hikers will be given opportunities to lead the group. Opportunities will vary for each hiker, but might include trail responsibilities, meal preparation, campsite management, and more.
Staff members will present key passages of Scripture, sharing how stories in the Bible connect with elements in the wilderness. Hikers will then break out into small discussion groups where they will have time to help each other better understand these stories and find practical ways to use these lessons at home.
Backpacking is one of our favorite ways to build friendships and memories. Jesus said that people would recognize his disciples by the love that they showed for one another, and small communities are a great way to practice this sort of selfless, brotherly love that Jesus was talking about (John 13:34-35).
Traveling in a small group can be challenging, which is why healthy communication and other teamwork habits will be encouraged throughout the trip. These are great for any season, and hikers will also learn how to bring skills like conflict resolution and personal responsibility back home after their week in the mountains.
High School (Co-ed)
Each group will be limited to 8 hikers and 2 Bighorn staff members, totaling 10 people.