The future decisions of how our natural resources will be managed will be made by the youth of today.
For 30 years, the Montana Natural Resources Youth Camp has provided youth an opportunity to study in an outdoor classroom the scientific principles, economic realities, historical heritage, and social perspectives of today, to help these future leaders in their quest to gain a natural resources perspective that is informed and progressive. "We invite all youth ages 14-18 to spend one week in the rustic setting of the Lubrecht Experimental Forest east of Missoula and learn about Montana's natural resources. The accommodations are comfortable, the food is great, and the instruction and friendships are the best."
Campers learn about forests, water, soils, geology, rangeland, wildlife, and recreation, and spend a half-day rafting the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River. In between the field sessions, taught largely by professionals that volunteer from a variety of natural resources based agencies and industries, specialty evening programs, guest speakers, hands-on learning-through-discovery, and campfires provide for a lasting summer camp experience.
Student teams also compete in a land use game where they manage a 3,800 acre ranch for 20 years. As in real life teams must make hard choices between profits and conservation ethics, especially if they face poor commodity prices. Most students enjoy the competition and have the typical reaction of "Wow, I never knew that making a living by managing land was so hard."
Most conservation districts offer scholarships that will cover part or all of the camp fee, which is only about 30% of the actual cost. The rest we provide through year long grant writing.