May 2023 | Mental Health Awareness

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may 2023 | Activities + guide SUMMER 2023 Mental Health Awareness +

JUNE 17 | 11AM – 1PM


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may 2023 PHOTO ADP STUDIO The Youth Mental Health Crisis is Happening 12 Recognizing Trauma in Children 14 How Helping My Kids with Their Anxieties Helped Me Address My Own 16 Heal Yourself Everyday 18 A Perinatal Mental Health and Loss Story 19 Do I Have Postpartum Depression? 20 The Basics for Boosting Your Child’s Mental Wellness 21 The Pink Tent 22 A Letter to My Son on Our Last Night of Nursing 23 2023 Summer Camp & Activities Guide 24 What’s Up? Montana What’s Up? Bozeman 40 What’s Up? Helena 42 Columns Medicaid Unwinding 43 Family Life on the Ranch 44 Ask Flora 45 Keeping it Real 46 Monthly Giveaway 47 Mental Health Awareness

Here from the start.

Mental Health Awareness Month, started by the Mental Health America (MHA) organization, began being observed in the United States in 1949. Today, millions of Americans are living with a mental illness.

According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness affecting an estimated 48 million U.S. citizens per year (19.1%), followed by mood disorders (9.7%). Recent estimates from Johns Hopkins University report one in four U.S. adults (26%) experience mental illness each year, while research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports one in 20 live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (13.1 million). An even more sobering statistic from MHF is that nearly 8 million children and adolescents in the U.S. suffer from a serious mental illness.

MHF also reports that 90% of Americans who die by suicide (the second leading cause of death among ages 10 to 34) have experienced symptoms of a treatable mental health condition such as depression, anxiety disorders or other forms of serious mental illnesses. Their researchers also estimate that half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

This year, MHA’s 2023 Mental Health Month campaign is focused on how surroundings impact mental health, and they are calling for individuals to "look around, look within."

NAMI joins the national movement to raise awareness and is launching the “More Than Enough” social media awareness campaign, uplifting and empowering the mental health community to feel that they are “more than enough.”

On a local level, Roots Family Collaborative will host the Seventh Annual Moms Like Me event on Saturday, May 13, from 5 to 7:30 at the Elm in downtown Bozeman.

This FREE, one-of-a-kind community event was created to:

Ç Raise awareness about the realities of parenthood

Ç Reduce shame and stigma around perinatal mental health

Ç Celebrate and support moms and families in the greater Gallatin region

Ç Promote inclusivity and compassion

Ç Create community and connect parents to resources

Ç Provide a beautiful and unique evening out for parents

For information on local mental health resources visit:

Ç Bozeman Health at

Ç Billings Clinic at

Ç Shodair Children’s Hospital at

Ç Healthy Gallatin at

Ç Roots Family Collaborative at www.


6 may 2023 Call today to schedule a same-day appointment! Belgrade + Bozeman 406-414-4100 A life�me of healthy choices starts with the ones you make today. Bozeman Health Pediatrics partners with families, providing the building blocks they need to ensure bright futures for their children. From birth to adolescence, we offer comprehensive care to form healthy habits at every stage along the way.


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June 7-September 27, 2015

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Tuesdays, 5-8pm

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* Montana Parent strives to provide accurate information and entertainment to our readers. Some content may be based on opinion of the author and may not represent our views. We want all voices to be heard, so we all can be educated on both sides of important issues.





• What’s Up? photos are from event social media pages if not supplied by the organization

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Mental Health Awareness


The Youth Mental Health Crisis is Happening Right Here, Right Now

Content Warning: Discussion of suicide.

The Youth Mental Health Crisis is here. You may have already heard the headlines: “Teen Mental Health Issues on the Rise” or “It’s Life or Death: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens.” These warnings are more than just fear-mongering or click bait. Young people around the country are reporting increasing feelings of persistent sadness, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increases in mental health challenges reported by teens had risen by 40% in the decade before the pandemic. Depending on who you ask, those trends have been exacerbated in recent years or at the very least remained on the same concerning trajectory.

While it is deeply disheartening to learn that so many of our young people are struggling, we do know that there are professionals working together to help address this crisis. It takes a village and many partners in the community.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression In Youth

We would like to highlight one of those partnerships here in the Gallatin Valley. The partnership between the Bozeman Public Schools (BSD7) and the Help Center, a local nonprofit, has existed for over a decade in order to provide immediate services to students in crisis. While BSD7 has multiple levels of support in place for students to meet their needs at school ranging from wellbeing initiatives and prevention all the way to individualized mental health care, those services can have limitations. Many families need something outside of, or in addition to, schoolbased services. These families often face barriers that make accessing care too alienating, too difficult or too expensive. The Help Center provides the school district, students, families and other members of the community a vital option. They offer 24/7 immediate, accessible, nonjudgmental services; they offer support in navigating confusing mental health systems; they offer care for the individual and their loved ones; and they offer effective collaboration with schools and local therapists so that the individual receives the ongoing care they need.

Rising rates of depression and other mental health issues are especially troubling in Montana, which has the grim distinction of being among the states with the highest suicide rates in the nation for more than four decades. In Montana, suicide is the leading preventable cause of death for children ages 10-14 and the second leading cause of death for those ages 10-24 (MT DPHHS, 2022) The impact of this crisis is also being felt here in Gallatin County. According to the 2021 Youth Behavior Risk Survey, more than 20% of high school students in Gallatin County reported seriously considering suicide within the last year, and almost 15% reported having made an attempt. Just imagine for a moment what those statistics actually look like...

Let us take you through a hypothetical scenario that a student and their family may experience if the former is at risk of suicide: Cameron, a Gallatin County middle school student, shares with a friend on social media that he is struggling to get out of bed and feels like no one would notice if he were gone forever. The friend, concerned for Cameron’s well-being, urges him to speak to the school counselor and offers to accompany him. Cameron agrees and, during the conversation with the school counselor, mentions that he has contemplated suicide and considered taking some of his father’s pills the night before. The school counselor takes Cameron seriously when he mentions having suicidal thoughts. Cameron’s dad is informed and comes to school to meet with the counselor. Upon the school counselor’s recommendation, he transports Cameron to the Help Center where they meet a crisis counselor who performs a comprehensive suicide assessment and helps create a safety plan. Cameron’s dad removes anything

12 may 2023
In a typical classroom of 30 students, it is likely that FOUR or FIVE of them have attempted suicide.
Sad or Bad Mood May seem sad, lonely, or grouchy for weeks or months. May cry or have tantrums more easily. Self-Critical May complain a lot or say self-critical things like, "I can't do anything right" or "It's too hard for me." Please note this is not an exhaustive list Lack of Energy or effort May put less effort into school than before. Small tasks can feel like too much. May seem tired, give up easily. Not Enjoying Things May not have as much fun with friends or enjoy playing like before. Not engaged in things they once enjoyed. Sleep & Eating Changes May not sleep well or seem tired more often. Some may not feel like eating, others may overeat. Aches & Pains May have stomach aches or other pains. Some may miss extra school days because of not feeling well.

that could be used to harm him and receives referrals to mental health professionals to help Cameron address his depression. The Help Center stays involved by informing the school of their assessment results and creating a follow-up plan. At school, Cameron’s school counselor creates another plan to help make Cameron feel more comfortable in his classes and coordinates with his teachers so that they know when to check in or when he may need to visit the counselor’s office. The school counselor checks on Cameron throughout the year. The school continues collaboration with the Help Center so that Cameron and his family can respond to any changes in his mental health. Cameron doesn’t feel alone anymore. He knows he has support from his family, school and the Help Center.

If you are a parent or caregiver reading this, you may feel that this could never happen to your child. However, we encourage everyone to have a plan and ask themselves, “What would I do if this happened to my child?” It can be distressing for a parent to see their child in pain and be unsure how to assist them. Please remember that your child’s school and the Help Center are there to support you as the caregiver as well.

The partnership between the Bozeman Public Schools and the Help Center is an excellent example of how school and community partnerships can work together to achieve positive outcomes for children and families; however, the challenges presented by the youth mental health crisis require that we all rise to the occasion. We can all do something to help. By recognizing signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, knowing how to respond compassionately and encouraging help-seeking behaviors we can save lives. Both the Bozeman School District and the Help Center provide community education opportunities on topics like mental health and suicide prevention for those in the community wishing to help. To learn more about these opportunities and what else these organizations do to support youth mental health, you can visit the Help Center website at or the BSD7 website at

If you are having suicidal thoughts or worried about someone, please call the Help Center 24/7 at 406-586-3333 or at 988.

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Recognizing Trauma


Children and Creating a Safe Environment

All children need a safe environment to express themselves and explore their world. For a child who has experienced trauma, creating an environment where they feel safe is crucial.

Children experience trauma for a variety of reasons. A child could be struggling with the death of a loved one or pet. Transitions, such as divorce or moving to a new state or school, can be traumatic. Regardless of how loving and welcoming a family can be, adoption may be traumatic as a child learns how they fit into a new family. Trauma can present in the child becoming withdrawn, irritable and acting in ways that are uncommon for them. A child may be resistant to accepting support as they try to understand their role in the traumatic event.

Children who have experienced trauma to any degree may have specific triggers or activators that contribute to feelings of being unsafe, out of control or overwhelmed. These situations can feel confusing and even overwhelming for caregivers because they may have the best intentions to create an enriching and caring environment.

There are a few strategies to nurture feelings of safety and create a more empowering environment for children who have experienced trauma. These small shifts in the child’s day-to-day atmosphere can contribute to growth and comfort in their relationships and overall well-being. The foundation for an empowering and safe environment includes

feeling physically and emotionally safe, having choices, building relationships and feeling empowered.

Physical Safety

When we think about a safe environment, our priority should be physical safety. This includes a child’s perception of whether the space is safe for them. A physically safe environment may include objects that are comforting such as rugs, blankets, soft chairs and space that allows for gentle movement. Body language is also important in a child’s perception of safety. When caring for children, especially while they are experiencing emotional distress, it can be helpful to get on their eye level, have an open posture with visible and open hands and use facial expressions that mirror their emotional experience.

For example, if a child is tearful, intentionally placing a frown on your face can help a child inherently feel understood as you are mimicking the sadness they may be experiencing.

Emotional Safety

If an environment feels physically safe for your child, they may be more likely to express their emotions openly. Thus, it is then important

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to create an emotionally safe environment that validates and aims to understand a child’s emotional experience. A great way to create a relationship of understanding and validation for the child’s emotions is through attunement. For example, if a child loses their favorite toy and this leads them to feel overwhelmed, you can attune with this experience by saying, “That was a really special toy. These feelings are tough.” This approach validates the difficult experience of losing a toy and normalizes the emotions that come with loss of something special.


Providing age-appropriate choices, when possible, can help a child feel empowered and promote confidence in their decision-making. Some children who have experienced trauma may feel little control over their lives; giving them guided choices within appropriate limits can help them regain feelings of control and agency over their life.


A trusting, collaborative relationship between you and your child is not only important for creating a safe environment, but it also is an opportunity to provide a foundation for healthy relationships in the future. Consistency, togetherness and boundaries contribute to trusting, collaborative and safe relationships. A child may feel safer when they can rely on you to follow through with your boundaries and commitments. When follow-through is not possible, as we are all human and we make mistakes, recognizing the mistake and repairing with your child will help them understand the importance of repair in healthy and trusting relationships.


Creating safety, allowing choices and nurturing the relationship build a foundation for empowerment. To further develop your child’s feelings of empowerment, it is helpful to recognize and build upon their strengths. Finding opportunities to be proud of them and guide them to experience that pride can be empowering for them. Showing a child that they are unique and valued for who they are can be invaluable to their sense of self and understanding of how they fit into the world.

Ally Dzurka is an Intermountain Comprehensive School and Community Treatment counselor at Smith Elementary in Helena. A nationally recognized nonprofit, Intermountain provides a variety of mental and behavioral health services in Helena, Bozeman, Billings and the Flathead Valley, as well as other communities that are served through community partnerships and telehealth services. Learn more at

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How Helping My Kids with Their Anxieties Helped Me Address My Own

When my oldest was about to start kindergarten, I knew exactly what to do to make him feel comfortable—or at least I thought I did. We talked about all the things he would do at kindergarten; we went to the school playground and read books about going to school. I tried to answer all the questions I could and reassured him over and over. I wanted to make him as comfortable as possible.

But no matter how many questions I answered, he never seemed to calm down. Instead, he only grew more fretful as kindergarten neared. These nerves spilled into other parts of his life, “What about hurricanes?” he’d ask. “What about volcanoes?” “How do you know we’re safe? Are you sure?”

I recognized the budding signs of anxiety because I had felt them myself.

And so I started researching anxiety in children, which led me to the book, Anxious Parents, Anxious Children. The premise isn’t to eliminate worry from our children’s lives, but to expect it, get comfortable with being uncomfortable and learning when to tell our worries to back off.

This approach seemed so counterintuitive. Instead of reassuring my children we were safe, I was supposed to say things like, “Hey, do you think your worry brain is taking over? Do you need to tell it to back off?”

At first, they would scream, “It’s not my worry! I just need to KNOW! Are we going to get in a car accident??”

But eventually, I saw it working. We started to recognize when anxiety was running the show, and instead of me spending hours convincing them they were safe, they could tell their brain we don’t need to listen to our worries all the time. We started getting a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I started to wonder if this approach would work for me as well. It seemed every new stage of parenting brought on a new spiral of worry. Homework, for example—“Should I be making them spend more time on their spelling? What if they don’t get the message that education and hard work are important? Or do we need to spend less time drilling, so they can enjoy their childhood and not feel the pressure to be perfect?” No matter the decision we needed to make, I was never sure if it was the right one.

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Eventually, however, I started listening to the advice I was giving my kids. I was letting anxiety run the show. This realization didn’t make it instantly easier to make a decision. I still wasn’t sure if we should let them play two sports at the same time or let them walk to school alone.

But I started asking myself why these decisions were so hard for me. Ultimately, it wasn’t about the sports, the homework, how clean my house was, or any of it. It was a worry about whether I was doing a good enough job, and if I could launch my kids into adulthood as capable humans without too much emotional damage.

This, of course, is what every parent wants. But worrying about the future doesn’t guarantee a good one.

My concerns always felt logical. “It’s not anxiety, I just really do need to do hours of research to figure out what the safest type of tuna is,” I would tell myself.

But I started asking myself the same questions I’d ask my kids. “You’re obsessing again. Is worry running the show?” As much as I hated being anxious, I found it wasn’t always easy to let my worries go. It felt like ceding a little bit of control in my life. But I don’t have complete control over the future, and I needed to learn to be OK with that.

Learning to recognize when my anxiety bubbled up and was clouding my brain helped decrease its power over me. And I, too, am a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

When my youngest started getting ready for kindergarten, we took a different approach. I didn’t tell her everything that would happen or reassure her that everything would be just fine. Instead, we made a list of everything she didn’t know and would get to find out on her first day.

I asked her how she felt about all this unknown. I thought it was probably making her a little uncomfortable not knowing what the future held.

But she thought for a moment, and then yelled, “EXCITED!”

I’m going to try the same. I don’t know what the future holds, or the best path to get there, and that still makes me worried sometimes. But I’m excited to find out.

Jackie Semmens is a writer by nature, and a mother by nurture. She hikes all over  Montana with her three kids in hopes of wearing them out. It hasn’t worked yet.

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Heal Yourself Everyday

It’s been three years since Montana shut down, and it feels like both ages ago and just yesterday. Some people are now thriving. Some people are still deep in the struggle. I find myself somewhere in between.

We’re going to need time to heal. As a yoga teacher and energy healer, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of sneaky ways those years are still affecting our nervous systems and fight or flight responses.

I remember a few times during the thick of it when my heart felt broken. I could see people drowning, swimming in uncertainty, loneliness and fear. It was clear that what these folks needed most—connection, a true hug, physical touch—was completely unattainable and, ironically, would’ve made the situation so much worse.

Our barriers went up. Our nervous systems pretty much stayed on high alert. I remember being jumpy, which is a symptom of being in fight or flight most of the time. And it’s exhausting.

Nowadays when I teach a packed yoga class or do private energy work, I revel in the fact that we can feel safe there. And that I can offer what I love to offer (and people love to receive from me): hands-on touch.

But we still have work to do.

Some people are still afraid of touch, of large groups. A lot of us still use coping habits we picked up during those years. Stress and cortisol levels are at an all-time high.

I think it’s really important that we learn about the nervous system and what it actually needs to heal, which is not tons of activity and exercise, nor is it plopping on the couch.

It craves true, deep rest. Feeling completely safe and at home in your body. It needs healthy touch and ways to release old, spent energy.

The biggest healing occurs when we feel safe enough for it to take place. This is why people will start to feel good in their mental and emotional health and lives, and then suddenly past trauma or overwhelming emotions will flare up.

It’s because the body held that energy for us when we couldn’t handle it. So, once we’re in a safe space to process it, well, the body looks for ways to release it.

Remember that this is a sign of healing, not of backtracking. It’s an opportunity to let things flow through us and release, rather than needing to hold so tight all the time. It’s an opportunity to practice mindfulness, being with our emotions and noticing triggers and responses (instead of identifying with them or letting them own you). When you have a surprise emotional day or are really needing and wondering why—know it is your body healing!

So, what are some ways to truly heal the nervous system and recover from stressful situations? (These suggestions are good for both kids and adults—try them together, kids are usually very natural at them!):

Skin to skin touch—physical touch, cuddling, holding your kiddo (hold for at least 90 seconds to truly drop into rest and digest).

Humming or chanting—this builds up our vagal tone, which means our ability to recover easily after stressful events. (In 2020 I would often start my yoga practice and just end up lying on my belly on the floor sighing, humming, crying, laughing until it felt like there was nothing left to release. Try it!)

Unplug completely and go into nature—nature is the ultimate healer, and immersing oneself in natural sounds and grounding energy will do wonders to restore your nervous system. All the better if you can go to simply receive, with no one expecting anything from you.

Shaking—shaking is practiced in so many cultures. Shamanic shaking, qi gong. Even our beloved pets do it when they’re releasing stress. Shake out your body every day and let stress, worry, depression, lethargy, other people’s energy, etc. just shake right off you.

Practice deep belly breathing—when we breathe deeply into our belly it’s a sign to our bodies that we are safe. We can relax. We can move into rest and digest. It’s the opposite of fight or flight. Place a hand on your belly, close your eyes, and picture energy moving from the mind into the body with every deep belly breath

you take. Practice 10-15 breaths or five minutes a day and you will be amazed at how it helps.

Receive energy healing—Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s ours and what’s everyone else’s. And it can be tricky to notice when our energy is stuck open (nothing left for yourself, depletion, jittery, other people’s moods drastically affecting your own), or stuck closed (lethargic, skeptical, closed off, uninspired, stuck). Seeing someone trained in energy healing will make a bigger impact than you can imagine! The energy in your body is the communicator of the nervous system. Heal one, you heal the other!

Other ideas: Hot springs; cold plunging; Epsom salt soaks; warm oil massage; chiropractic care; Yin or Restorative Yoga; Somatic Healing; Acupuncture

Our bodies are incredibly resilient. We can heal; and it’s important we do so, because otherwise the lingering effects will add up over time and affect our health.

So, let’s make these practices that calm our nervous systems a part of our day-to-day. We’ll heal from the past, but also build emotional and nervous system resiliency for the future. Because life will continue to throw things our way.

If we get into the habit of doing what serves us when we’re in a good place, it’s way easier to call upon those practices when we’re in a low place.

Treat your nervous system like your best friend and watch so much magic unfold. Contentment will hang around longer. We’ll be more trusting. We’ll rest better. And our emotions will come and go, instead of getting stuck. We all deserve it!

Jess Cartwright helps women going through big life transitions –whether it’s a new baby or wanting to show up differently in our lives. She does this through one-on-one yoga, meditation, energy healing, connection and guided international retreats. Find her at or on Instagram

18 may 2023

A Perinatal Mental Health and Loss Story

In 2016, six months pregnant and having recently arrived in Bozeman for my husband’s dream job, I was connected to an organization called Roots Family Collaborative through a friend I met at yoga. She told me about a Roots event—Moms Like Me—taking place in the community a week after I would deliver my first child. It is there that I learned how powerful it is to tell one’s story. Thank you for taking the time to read mine.

A week after the 2017 Moms Like Me event, my husband and I had our first baby. We had a long and difficult first eight months as parents, because of our daughter's severe GI concerns. She was hospitalized at 8 months old for “failure to thrive.” After she was discharged and we returned home, we became pregnant again. I was so anxious about having another baby, as the fog was just barely starting to clear from our first. Once I accepted the pregnancy and became excited, I experienced bleeding and went to the ER, where the staff confirmed the pregnancy was viable and the baby had a heartbeat, and assured me the bleeding could be normal. I was so relieved, but a day later... more bleeding. Repeated hormone tests continued to confirm our pregnancy was fine, but in my gut, things did not feel fine. Ultimately, a final HCG test showed I was losing the baby. I was overwhelmed by GUILT: Did I cause this with anxiety? Did I eat the wrong thing? Am I not meant to be a mother?

I’ll never forget the trauma of losing that first baby at home, a painful process which had me checking for fetal matter neurotically. Meanwhile, I was also taking care of our

10-month-old (who was just starting to sleep through the night with the help of a local sleep specialist), and I chose to use coping skills I had in my toolbox rather than seeking outside help.

In August 2018, we found out we were pregnant again. This time, we felt prepared. We had our first daughter wear a shirt saying, “I’m going to be a big sister,” to surprise her grandparents on a trip. We were further along, and I had nausea, which was reassuring. As my husband, daughter and I looked at the sweet, perfectly shaped baby on the screen at the first ultrasound, we learned it did not have a heartbeat. I leaned on my own coping skills again: I cried, journaled and went to bed that night knowing the baby inside me was not alive. My doctor arranged a D&C the following morning. We learned after fetal testing that the baby was a girl and had monosomy x, also known as Turners Syndrome.

In my search for additional coping skills to help deal with the weight of loss, I found meditation. We became pregnant for the fourth time. I had a mantra: “I trust my body to support a healthy baby.” But during the winter holidays we lost a third baby, another girl.

When we became pregnant again in February 2020, I was not hopeful. I wondered: If we could lose three babies, how many more might we lose? Weeks later, at my daughter’s third birthday party, I started to lose our fourth baby.

After this loss, I was finally ready to accept help. I was blown away by the network of support that was laid out before me. It felt like the universe, and particularly the amazing

people in this incredible community, were just waiting for me to finally let them catch me. I lined up counseling, got bloodwork done and met with a maternal fetal medicine specialist to learn what we could do to help potentially have another healthy baby to term. I meditated, did yoga, took morning walks, wrote in my journal and took an anxiety medication approved by my MFM to help with the daily anxiety of a pregnancy after multiple losses. I learned that it is OK to accept help when it feels right.

The day our sixth baby was born we learned it was a boy; he was born to Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” Shortly after he was born, he was sent to the NICU for oxygen concerns. My heart sank. I thought I was going to be sick. Thirty minutes later, I was reunited with my healthy baby boy. What a tremendous breath of relief I could finally take.

After an unforgettable storm of perinatal anxiety and consecutive losses, we now have two earthside babies and four babies who forever live in our hearts. I am so very thankful to have been connected to many incredible resources in our community, and even more thankful to have said yes to receiving their help and nurturing. It’s a scary step for many of us to take, but what a gift awaits us once we do.

Resources for Infertility and Loss: Roots Family CollaborativePregnancy and Infant Loss Support Circle, Gardening with Roots and Thoughtful Thursdays on social; Tree of Life Doula CareBereavement Services; Big Sky Fertility and Wellness Fertility and Wellness- Pregnancy after Infertility Support Group; Return to Zero: Hope counselors, massage therapists, psychiatrists, Physical Therapists, OB’s and more which are listed in the Roots Family Collaborative Perinatal Guide.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 19

Do I Have Postpartum Depression?

Do I have postpartum depression? How do I know if have postpartum depression? What does it mean if I have postpartum depression? Will other people know if I have postpartum depression?

I know I can’t be the only one reading this magazine who has typed these questions (or variations of them) into a search bar to then clear the history immediately after. If you too have asked these questions of Google or had them running as a ticker tape inside your brain as you change diapers, or clean bottles, please know you are not alone. In no way is taking a moment to consider your emotional landscape a sign of being a “bad” mom. In fact, it’s most likely a sign that you want to be the best mom you can be for your baby.

When I got pregnant 14 years ago, I was a preschool teacher and spent my days watching birth videos and telling other people how to parent. I definitely felt like I had motherhood all figured out. After my daughter’s birth, my husband went back to work, my mom left after helping for seven days and I was left with my excruciatingly painful cracked nipples. My days were no longer filled with other people’s kids crying and screaming, rather it was me and my tiny baby who filled the house with eardrumsplitting wails (her) and sobs of despair and overwhelm (me). Nothing about it felt settling or normal.

What I know now from my personal experience as the mom of a 13- and 9 -year-old, and working with many mothers over the years is that all mothers everywhere need great care and attention during this stage in life.

When we become pregnant, we begin our initial separation from ourselves as individuals while we grow new life. We will never again be the person we were before (this includes if we get pregnant and experience loss at any stage). We transition through the birth of our little one(s)—an enormous physical act for us as mothers—in all different ways and timelines. We come out the other side, completely new from the inside out.

This “other side” can feel very overwhelming and scary when we don’t know who we are, which is magnified by the fact that we have been entrusted to keep a small human alive. I have learned that when new mothers don’t have space to share their experience (the joys as well as the fears and darkness) of making it through this incredible transition, it most certainly gets tangled in our body as something to contend with all on our own.

And that’s the thing: No mother was meant to be alone, all day every day with an infant. But sadly, based on how most of us live these days, many new moms are spending hours on end each day alone with her infant. So it’s no wonder so many of us are Googling "What if I have postpartum depression?"

For me, motherhood uncovered a bunch of emotions that felt new to me, like the rage that exploded from my body in the night, and the constant buzz of fear that hummed in my early days. Most of the time I could keep them hidden just in case someone might think I was struggling or, God forbid, might have postpartum depression.

Inside, I was being eaten alive by my belief that good moms don’t have postpartum depression, or struggle, or get scared, or have scary thoughts, or yell, etc. But because we are human, we have the ability to experience a full range of emotions each and every day, especially when we’re doing something for the first time.

Good moms feel many different ways. If you are curious about how you are feeling or just not feeling like yourself, no need to rely on Google. Be gentle on yourself and know you are not alone. Support, resources and love for you are just a conversation away. Reach out to a trusted friend, provider or call us at Roots— we’re always on the other end.

20 may 2023
“Motherhood is raw and pure. It is fierce and gentle. It is up and down. It is magic and madness.” - Aviva Romm
Suzanne Bendick is the Executive Director at Roots Family Collaborative. If she’s not listening to a new mother’s story, you can find her breathing in some fresh air in the mountains around town.

The Basics for Boosting Your Child’s Mental Wellness

world, our job as parents is to help them safely navigate their surroundings so they can understand who they are in the world. Rather than guessing what is safe and what isn’t, boundaries allow children to relax, find enjoyment, be creative, build independence and develop healthy selfesteem.

We want our children to be healthy and happy, and a child’s mental health is a major component of their overall wellness. But what really is mental health?

Mental health, or mental wellness, is a child’s ability to meet their developmental milestones. This includes social and emotional milestones, such as their ability to communicate with others, adjust to their environment and react to stressful situations. A child’s mental wellness changes based on experiences.

Think about mental wellness as an inflatable innertube. As a child receives positive inputs, like snuggles from a parent or compliments from a friend, their innertube inflates. When a child receives negative inputs, like missing the bus or being called a bad name, their innertube deflates. The more air in their tube, the easier it is for them to navigate the rapids in their lives.

While we can’t always block innertube deflators from our kids, there are some fundamental things we can do to give our children the help they need to stay afloat.

Set Boundaries

Safety and security are at the forefront of childhood mental wellness. At birth, safety and security are felt when babies are held, receive nourishment and have a comfortable place to sleep. As children grow and experience the

Setting healthy boundaries starts with specifying family rules and developing routines. With smaller children, this can include cleaning up toys, taking turns, sitting at the table when eating or holding hands while crossing the street. For older children and teens, this could look like establishing a curfew, doing chores or setting a homework routine.

How we teach our children boundaries is as important as what we teach. Our children are sponges! We should model what we want to see, so providing clear expectations in a respectful way will teach children they are worthy of respect and act as a model for how to treat others.

Being consistent with our expectations will also reinforce the sense of safety and security. It’s important to let your child feel the impact of crossing a boundary. When doing so, ensure the consequence is respectful, meaningful and ageappropriate.

Prioritize Connection

It’s helpful to think of your family being home base—a place where your children are loved and accepted and where they can come to rest and recharge after venturing out into the world. Regardless of their age, they will need it.

Check in with your child daily. I like the highs, lows and curiosity “game.” Ask your child to tell you the best and least favorite part of the day followed by one thing they’re curious or excited about for the following day. I also like the words,

“tell me more,” when I hear a brief answer. Check-ins are easy to embed into dinnertime or bedtime routines.

Schedule “dates” with your child by finding something they like and doing it together— connecting with them around something they’re passionate about. This reinforces that they are important to you and that what they find interesting is meaningful to you. For example, going for a hike, taking a picnic to the park or building a fort in the backyard.

Healthy Choices

Mental and physical wellness are connected. When children’s bodies are functioning at their best, it makes it easier to find innertube fillers and fend off deflaters.

Ç Nutrition. Eating nutritious food boosts kids’ brain functioning and supports playing, learning and socializing and even helps promote healthy sleep patterns.

Ç Sleep. Healthy sleep routines help kids’ bodies to restore and recharge. Current recommendations of American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) indicate kids ages 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep a night. Having a consistent bedtime and wake time are key for maximizing sleep benefits.

Ç Exercise. Minimize technology and get outside! Exercise helps boost natural hormones that help kids feel happy.

Laying the groundwork for our kids’ mental wellness can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it for everyone in the family. The best place to start is checking in with your family’s needs and seeing what is feasible. Bite off what you can chew and layer in other strategies as they make sense, offering yourself grace in the process.

Ashley Bennett is the Behavioral Health Integrations Manager for Montana Pediatrics, a statewide collaborative of pediatric providers coming together to increase access to health care and health equity for all children in Montana. Learn more at

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 21

travel guide

The Pink Tent offers a variety of shapes and sizes of breast prosthetics, custom prosthetics, post-surgical lingerie and lymphedema supplies.

In 2014 Beth Blythe had a single mastectomy. And while she was provided with resources, she still didn’t know how to fill her empty bra, what clothes to wear or what next steps to take. “Even after reconstructive surgery, my body was different and I didn’t quite know how to work with it. Thankfully, my childhood friend, Janet, had a big, beautiful lingerie store in Tennessee that offered both surgical lingerie and regular retail lingerie,” said Beth. “I called her for help and she immediately shipped a post-surgical camisole to me which offered a bit of compression and provided space for drain tubes, followed by other helpful products.”

This measure of kindness from across the country got Beth thinking she couldn’t be the only woman in Gallatin County in need of this type of support. After researching the process of providing fitting services to women, Beth connected with a certified mastectomy fitter at Bozeman Health, Vickie Welton-Bailey.

Over the course of the next few years, Beth volunteered with Vickie at the Care Boutique at Bozeman Health and returned to Tennessee to train with Janet as part of her required 120 hours of mentorship. She took mastectomy fitting classes and eventually earned her certification in 2022.

Today, she is operating The Pink Tent in Bozeman, an accredited mastectomy fitting business, HIPAA compliant and Durable Medical Equipment Place of Service (DMEPOS). This means the breast prosthetics and post-surgical bras Beth sells are billable to insurance companies and, effective January 2024, the lymphedema products she supplies will also be billable.

“What many don’t seem to know is that if you have had a mastectomy or expect to have one, with or without a cancer diagnosis, you may be entitled to special rights under the

Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA). In a nutshell, if your group health plan or health insurance company covers mastectomies, it must provide benefits related to the mastectomy including prosthetics and bras,” said Beth.

Breast prosthetics, which are equivalent to breast tissue weight, and well-fitting bras will help prevent shoulder, neck and spine issues. They also help to bring back balance, body confidence and improved mental health, which Beth believes also positively impacts women’s families and friends.

Beth explains, “I think it’s huge to be able to look in the mirror and look normal, or not be able to tell that surgery has occurred. We can never take the scars or the surgical experiences away, but what we can do is offer bras that fit and feel comfortable over or around the scars, and offer the appearance of a pre-surgical body.”

The Pink Tent offers a variety of shapes and sizes of breast prosthetics, custom prosthetics, post-surgical lingerie and lymphedema supplies.

“It is important that women know they have options,” said Beth. “I look forward to serving women in this community and evolving the offerings of The Pink Tent to accommodate the community’s growing needs.”

The Pink Tent is located at 670 S. Ferguson, Ste 2A (in the LUXE Aesthetics office in the Pinewood Professional Center across from the Ridge Athletic Club). Fittings are by appointment only. To schedule call 406-551-2178 (office) or 406-498-0511 (cell) or email

22 may 2023
Compassionate Business Spotlight
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will be on stands from June until September distributed in: bozeman, butte, Helena, livingston and big sky and the Entrances to Yellowstone: west Yellowstone chamber, Gardiner chamber and visitor centers and other popular areas around southwest montana

A Letter to My Son on Our Last Night of Nursing

I went into motherhood with the mantra of: Fed is best, but breast is better. It was my goal to exclusively breastfeed my son for six months. Due to a combination of an unidentified allergen (which ended up being apples) and my own postpartum depression, we had to stop nursing at four months. What follows is a letter I wrote to my son on that last night. I believe that it reflects the guilt we as parents can carry for things that are out of our control.

To my son on our last night of nursing.

Nursing never came easy for us. You were put to the breast when you were just five minutes old. I couldn’t get you to latch, but the nurse said that was normal and it would come to us.

When you were a few hours old, they took you to the NICU and gave you formula in addition to nursing and the few microliters I could pump for you.

When we brought you home, my milk came in quickly. We nursed exclusively for two weeks. I felt optimistic. I was able to get plenty from the pump, so even when I just couldn’t handle being touched any longer, I was able to feed you the best stuff I could.

The physical contact wore on me. I started doing one bottle a day. Then two. You demanded more food even after nursing for an hour. I just couldn’t keep up, and I started to resent you for touching me. I kept pumping. After a month, it just wasn’t enough and we started back on a little formula.

After a few more weeks, I couldn’t get enough pumped for your dad to feed you in the middle of the night. We went from one can of formula a month to two.

Pumping started to make me feel like a cow. Physical contact made me nauseated. You could only go an hour and a half between nursing sessions. You could go two or three if I gave you formula. We began to do every third feeding.

You got sick. Your weight gain slowed. You developed eczema. The doctor said it was a milk allergy. My diet was already restricted; I was vegan except for eggs. But I wanted what was best for you, so I did everything I could and cut out dairy.

It wasn’t enough. You started to lose weight. You were still sick. They switched you to a specialized formula. I tried to get you to nurse, but you pulled away and screamed. It’s been three days of this and we have nursed for the last time.

I wanted to give you a few more antibodies. You are only four months old. I decided to try some skin-on-skin. I wanted to nurse you to sleep and then nap together. You suckled for five minutes and then fell asleep. Twenty minutes later, you became gassy. You cried. You were in pain. I held you and cried until you calmed. Then your father gave you a bottle.

You are sleeping now. I am sorry that you will be given processed food. I am sorry you won’t be getting your best defense against infections. Most of all, I’m sorry I didn’t stop sooner. We don’t know what you are allergic to, but I’m clearly eating it. Every time you nurse, you get a dose of poison. I am causing you pain and I’m sorry.

I wanted to nurse you for six months. I wanted it available to you for two years. I am doing what is best for you, I hope. There are a lot of things I will fail at during your life. This is the first. I’m sorry.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 23
Melissa is mother to Malcom (now 5) and an employee at the Montana Science Center. Malcom is at a healthy weight but still can’t eat apples.
who’s your farmer? Summer Vegetable and Flower Subscriptions available now! Weekly shares available for pickup or delivered to Bozeman, Big Sky, Livingston and outlying towns. Visit for more information and to subscribe.


Activities + guide

Academic Summer Courses Big Sky Tutoring


Ç (406) 595-4996


Big Sky Tutoring is offering academic summer courses for students of all ages. Sign up for their summer course email to receive further information as soon as it’s available.

Elementary/Middle School Summer Courses - Grade-Level Reading Group - Grade-Level Math Skills Group - Coding for Kids

High School Summer Courses - Living on Your Own - Adulting 101 - ACT Prep Course - Getting Into College, Research and Readiness

- College Level Writing - Introduction to Coding

ArtSplot Summer Art Enrichment Programs


Ç (406) 587-8424




ArtSplot has been an independent art enrichment provider in Bozeman since 1995. Chelsea and Richard Smith, founders, owners and operators, teach extensively in the schools, in their studio and on location offering activities in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics and more. "Our teaching style is friendly and individualized. We embrace the wit and delight of creating artwork, while sharing knowledge and technique. Join us and experience what sets us apart.”

24 may 2023
your kids' summer fun here for more information about these camps, visit our interactive Summer Camp & Activities Finder at

Bozeman Children’s Theatre


Ç (702) 481-3622




Campers range from elementary to middle schoolers and are taken from auditions to full musical performances in under two weeks by licensed educators. Bozeman Children’s Theatre has put on numerous musicals over the past few years at many local elementary schools. They believe that theater is an incredible way to help young adults find their voice, confidence and new friends.

Camp Bodhi


Ç (406) 201-1324



Camp Bodhi is the ultimate Montana farm camp for elementary-aged kids entering first through fifth grade. Kids can sign up for a week or a month, with a different theme each week: nature, wilderness, homesteading and art. While each week is a new adventure, all weeks include: farm-fresh lunch daily, kids’ yoga classes, nature hikes around the farm, guest speakers and more.

Camp Equinox

Summer Theater Day Camp

@ Bozeman Summit School

Bozeman Sports Camp


Ç (406) 661-5496




Bozeman Sports Camp is an active summer sports camp for kids entering grades kindergarten through sixth. They provide fun and engaging activities, games and instruction covering sports of all kind. Instructors are Bozeman-area teachers and college students studying education and providing quality instruction of sports skills, strategies and sportsmanship in an active setting for kids to spend their summer.


Ç (406) 522-7623




Now in its 28th year, Camp Equinox is an exciting place for kids to learn all about the theater and explore their own creativity. From musical comedy, Shakespeare and film acting to mask-making, puppetry, playwriting and comedy improv, it’s a month of challenges, friends and intense fun. Since 1996, Camp Equinox’s goal has been to give students the opportunity to meet challenges, explore their creativity, build self-confidence and see their success in final performances, all in the environment of an enormously supportive community. The positive growth that takes place through the performing arts is thrilling.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 25
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023

Camp Headwaters

Headwaters Academy


Ç (406) 585-9997


Summer Camp at Headwaters has many opportunities for adventure, exploration and experiential learning. These new summer camps are designed to provide junior counselors with an enriching summer — ripe with discovery, creativity and abundant fun both indoors and out. For campers entering seventh through ninth grades, the camps offer age-appropriate fun in a reliable and caring environment. Sessions begin mid-June and end in mid-August. Camp runs Monday –Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cedar Ridge Equine Summer Horsemanship Camps and Clinics


Ç (406) 282.3355




Cedar Ridge Equine has been offering summer horsemanship day camps for more than 18 years. Youth camps are available for beginners to advanced. At CRE Summer Horsemanship Camps, they believe it is important to teach life skill development and personal growth as an integral component of their horsemanship program. They strive to provide a safe, fun and educational environment for all campers. Campers will spend time in the saddle and on the ground with horses.

Circus Camp!



Ç (406) 475-2513




Kids don’t have to run away to join the circus! 406Cirque offers acrobatics, juggling, aerial, theater, dance, unicycling and friends. With state-of-the-art facilities and staff from all over the world, this is a program like no other in the valley. Early Bird enrollment prices are available for the first 50 families who register. From a parent: “I cannot say enough positive things about Cirque 406. The staff is caring, inclusive, talented and passionate about all things circus. Both of my kids, ages 7 and 11, loved this camp. We did the longer three-week session and they looked forward to it every single day. That is no small feat.”

26 may 2023
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023 Meets at Rhythm Drums at The Emerson | | 406.580.8229
World Drum Camp
Cuban! Egyptian Drumming! Storytelling, Games, World Culture!
• Monday-Friday – 9 a.m.-noon Bozeman Camp Dates: June
- 16; June 26 - 30; July 10 -
July 24 - 28 With Award Winning Teacher Chet

Creative Arts

Summer Camp

Creative arts preschool


Ç (406) 579-7692


Ç CreativeArtsBozeman


Creative Arts Preschool is an art- and naturebased school that operates year-round. They incorporate art, dance, music and nature exploration into students’ daily activities. All summer long, kids get outside to enjoy our beautiful Montana surroundings and create art projects that focus on all the natural beauty we see each day.

biking camps and biathlon camps. Nature Camps are for first- through sixth-graders and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for five consecutive days on six different weeks. Mountain Bike Camps are geared toward fourth- through 12th-graders and run from noon to 3 p.m. for five consecutive days on six different weeks. Biathlon Camp is for 10- to 13-year-olds and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for four consecutive days on five different weeks and includes transportation to and from Bozeman.

Emerson Summer Art Camp


Ç (406) 587-9797

The Emerson offers weeklong summer camps for ages 5–12. Each week will include 2D, sculpture and mixed media projects. Every camp culminates with an artist reception on Friday afternoon. Emerson camps are filled with innovative art projects that are designed to let your child’s creativity grow!

Dancing from Stage to Sky: Aerial Dance Camp

Mountain Air Dance


Ç (406) 595-0909


Ç mountainairdance


Crosscut Mountain Sports Center Summer Camps


Ç (406) 586-9690




At Crosscut they believe in supporting body and mind so all campers can wholeheartedly pursue that which fulfills them. They offer three types of summer camps: nature camps, mountain

This fun and unique day camp, for ages 6 to 16, challenges students physically and mentally with classes in aerial arts, dance technique, choreography, yoga, Pilates, hula hooping, juggling, hand balancing, flexibility training, arts and crafts and more. Experienced instructors will guide students through their day in small groups based on age and skill level. Join the fun and learn to FLY! No experience required.

1:4 teacher to student ratio in aerial classes keeps campers engaged, active and safe.

Enchanted Forest Girl Scout Day Camp


Ç (406) 580-7546

The perfect opportunity for all girls currently in K-fifth grade to get outside while supporting the mission to build courage, confidence and character and make the world a better place. This weeklong camp will provide the opportunity for campers to take part in crafts, skill and friendship building, outdoor exploration and girl-led camp activities. Registration is $115 for unregistered Girl Scouts (girls will be registered for the year if attending camp). Payment must be received within 30 days of confirmation of application.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 27
+ guide SUMMER 2023

Epoch Summer Camp


Ç (512) 680-1671

Ç www.epochbzn.comJoin

Epoch, Bozeman's first and only Waldorf-inspired school for primary grades, will explore the elements of nature all summer. They’re offering two, weeklong nature based camps Monday through Friday from 9 3 p.m. and one, two-weeklong literacy skill camp.

Gallatin Valley Farm to School Summer Camps


Ç (406) 219-1010


Are you looking for a great way to connect your kids with local food and agriculture? Want your kiddo to engage in hands-on learning, where creativity, inquiry and peer-learning come together to create a magical learning experience? Here's a camp for you! With a focus on creativity, inquiry and fun, GV Farm to School summer camps highlight all the ways food can bring together art, science, cooking, exploration and more. With 12 camps over 10 weeks, ages Pre-K through eighth grade, there will be plenty of options to choose from.


Summer Day Camps

Bozeman Parks & Recreation

Ç (406) 582-2293




It’s tough to find the variety, adventure and affordability of Bozeman Parks & Recreation camps anywhere else. They are run by leaders who truly care about your children and implementing quality programs by creating a safe and fun camp environment that is spent mostly outdoors. Campers will play, laugh, create art, learn about our local ecosystem, meet new friends, get dirty and challenge themselves by engaging in new activities daily. Bozeman Parks and Recreation is creating community through people, parks and programs.

Gallatin Valley YMCA Adventure Day Camp: Kindergarten to Second grade @ The Commons


Ç (406) 994-9622




Kindergarten through second-grade camps focus on youth development and learning through creativity, play and exploration of our environment. Activities and trips are intentionally planned to promote physical, cognitive and emotional/social development and provide kids with memorable experiences and friendships that last a lifetime. All campers will have the opportunity to leave their site every day, swim, slip n’ slide on the Y’s giant slide and hike once during the week, visit multiple parks and attend two field trips related to the weekly theme.

28 may 2023
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023

Gallatin Valley YMCA Adventure Day Camp: Second to Fourth grades @ The Commons


Ç (406) 994-9622





Second- through fourth-grade camps focus on youth development and learning through various activities, field trips and opportunities. Activities and trips are intentionally planned to promote development/learning while providing older campers with new experiences and challenges. All campers leave their site every day, swim, slip n’ slide on the Y’s giant slide, hike once during the week, visit multiple parks and attend two field trips related to the weekly theme. Each camp will participate in arts and crafts, daily reading, games, singing and social-emotional learning.

Gallatin Valley YMCA Teen Camp Fifth to Seventh grades


Ç (406) 994-9622





YMCA’s teen summer camps provide older campers more significant opportunities to spread their wings and experience new adventures. Campers are encouraged to make their own choices, build relationships and develop essential life skills through YMCA character values. The teen camp offers a more challenging range of activities for experienced campers. It provides a safe place where teens can be themselves, participate in activities and go on field trips specifically tailored toward their evolving interests.

Girls’ Stories, Girls’ Voices Thrive


Ç (406) 922-4256




Discover new ways to express yourself and create change in the world while making friends, exploring fun hobbies and creating projects. Girls’ Stories, Girls’ Voices is a fun-filled week for all middle school girls. This year’s theme is Girls are Creative. Participants will learn dances, write poetry, practice yoga and find their voices as they learn fun ways to share their stories with the world.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 29
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023


June and July — grades 3-8

CLASSES: Spring and Fall — grades 3-12

Scholarships Available !


Heart and Hand Summer Day Camps and Retreats Heart and Hand Center


Ç (406) 587-4036



GirlSing Music Camp (Singing, Songwriting, Art & Outdoor Fun with Music Kate)


Ç (406) 570-2839



Find horses, art, yoga, drumming and hiking at Heart and Hand Center’s 285-acre ranch high above the distractions and stress of life in the beautiful mountains just 14 miles east of Bozeman. Your kids will gain insight and experience incredible personal growth during these weeklong day camps; and parents: Heart and Hand Center’s retreats are tailor-made to give you the rest and renewal you long for.


Full Day 9 a.m.-3 p.m. or

Half-Day 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Options - Monday through Friday

Year round Art and Nature based Preschool for 3-5 year olds

346 Gallatin Park Drive, Bozeman (406) 579-7692

The GirlSing Music Camp is a five-day, Monday-Friday camp, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for girls ages 7 to 11. This camp empowers girls to explore their creative spirits through music, singing, songwriting, journaling and selfexpressive art projects. Staff embrace the beauty in every personality (introvert, extrovert, in-between, etc.) and celebrate the gifts that make each girl unique. This indoor and outdoor camp offers engaging activities including daily hikes/outdoor play, picnics, drumming, rhythm-making and creative art projects. A Thursday night program offers girls a chance to share songs and art with family and friends.

Lone Mountain Summer Camps & Classes


Ç (406) 587-1180



Lone Mountain offers a fun variety of summer camp options. Everything from KidVentures camp for little ones to Campapalooza (an all-around fun day camp with swimming in the afternoon sessions). They have Trampoline Camp and Combo Camp (highlighting gymnastics and overall sports agility) and don’t forget about swimming lessons. The second location also offers Ninja camp and Tiny Dancers camp for little ones. Lone Mountain keeps your kids active, engaged and having fun this summer. Camp offerings vary by week, so visit the website or call for details.

30 may 2023

MBC’s Dancing Under the Big Sky

Montana Ballet Company


Ç (406) 582-8702

Ç summer-programs



Montana Ballet Company’s annual Dancing

Under the Big Sky (DUBS) two-week Summer Dance Intensive is an enriching educational program featuring exceptional guest teachers from across the country. This year, MBC is delighted to welcome Leslie Rausch from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Samantha Shelton from American Ballet Theatre. The DUBS Intensive, with a full and thoughtful curriculum, exemplifies MBC’s belief in nurturing the “whole dancer,” mind, body and spirit.


This new program is designed for adult dancers who wish to immerse themselves in the art and discipline of dance. Each day is specifically designed to help optimize training and take your technique to the next level. Classes may include ballet technique, character dance, variations, contemporary, body conditioning, Pilates, yoga, lectures, photo sessions, repertoire and a final performance.

MBC’s Mini-DUBS Program

Montana Ballet Company


Ç (406) 582-8702

Ç summer-programs




Ages 5 – 12 Weekly from 9 am to 3 pm

MBC’s Inaugural Adult Intensive

Montana Ballet Company


Ç (406) 582-8702

Ç summer-programs



This “mini” version of Dancing Under the Big Sky is designed for dancers ages 7-10 who are ready to commit to an intensive. Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in classes and perform in a final in-studio showing and may return to perform again at Sweet Pea Festival held on August 5, 2023. This two-week intensive allows dancers to explore a variety of dance forms focusing on technique, artistry, musicality and expression. Along with ballet technique, dancers may study modern, character, mime, injury prevention, nutrition and body conditioning.


June 12 – 16

July 24 – 28


June 26 – 30

August 7 – 11


July 17 – 21


June 19 – 16

July 31 – August 4


July 10 – 14

August 14 – 18

Youth ages 14 – 18 are welcome to apply to our Youth Intern program.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 31
SCIENCE FUN FOR AGES 4 – 10+ REGISTER TODAY! Members-only opens 2/1 General public opens 2/15 995 Carousel Way Helena, Montana 406.457.1800
Emerson camps are filled with innovative art projects designed to help your child’s creativity grow!

MBC's Open Ballet Classes

Montana Ballet Company


Ç (406) 582-8702

Ç academy/summer-programs

Ç montanaballetco

Ç montanaballet

Montana Ballet Company's Open Classes are a wonderful opportunity for students to continue their classical ballet training during the summer. All summer programs are open to current Academy students and new students alike. Held May 30-July 22, 2023* and August 14-19, 2023 (*No classes the week of July 4).

MBC’s The Little Mermaid Summer Workshops

Montana Ballet Company


Ç (406) 582-8702

Ç summer-programs



Based on Montana Ballet Company’s production of an original The Little Mermaid, this program offers dancers ages 4 to 6 the opportunity to take part in themed classes, choreography, arts and crafts, and an instudio performance. Come join them under the sea!

Montana Regional Dance Intensive

Yellowstone Ballet Academy


Ç (406) 222-0430




A regional dance intensive for serious dancers ages 12 to adult, June 19-30. Join YBC for two weeks of training with Fiona Lee of the world-renowned Royal Danish Ballet; Tricia Sundbeck, former principal dancer Sacramento Ballet/Cincinnati Ballet; Thomas Bell, former principal dancer Eugene Ballet and current ballet master University of Cincinnati and other preeminent instructors. Daily classes include ballet, pointe, pas de deux, contemporary, conditioning, yoga, Pilates and/ or international dance. Private lessons and coaching are also available for all ages.

Montana Outdoor Science School


Ç (406) 219-3899


Ç MontanaOutdoorScienceSchool


MOSS Summer Programs offer FUN, ENGAGING and EDUCATIONAL explorations of the natural world in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. MOSS believes that inspiring a love for nature helps children become aware of, and want to care for, the unique environment in which we live. Camps fill quickly; early registration is recommended.

Montana Surf World Cup Soccer Camp


Ç (406) 600-8146



Montana Surf Soccer Club is bringing the recent excitement of the World Cup tournament to the Bozeman area with the inaugural Montana Surf World Cup Camp. Players of all levels ages 4-14 will have the opportunity to train with Surf’s “best of the best” coaching staff during a weeklong camp session that will culminate with the Montana Surf World Cup tournament.

32 may 2023
+ guide SUMMER 2023

Pet Pals Summer Camp Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter


Ç (406) 404-3068




Pet Pals Summer Camp offers seven weekly sessions for children (6-12 years old) who love animals. Campers learn the importance of compassionate animal care through time with animals, games, crafts, humane education lessons and a wide variety of guest speakers. Each week children will have the opportunity to interact with a variety of animals. The camp is Monday-Friday with drop-off between 8:30 and 9 a.m. and pick-up between 3 and 3:30 p.m. The weekly cost of camp tuition is $250. Need-based scholarships are available.

Ridge Kids Summer Camp Ridge Athletic Clubs


Ç (406) 582-4452


Join the Ridge for a summer of fun! Their camps offer a different theme each week (from Sports and Sparklers, Artistic Exploration, Into the Wild and more) and give kids an opportunity to swim, make crafts, take instructorled fitness classes, watch educational videos, do STEM play and play games. Ridge Kids Camps help your child build a foundation for a healthy and active life. They offer half-day camps from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for ages 3 to 5 and full-day camps from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for ages 6 to 12. $260 a week for members and $335 a week for nonmembers. Registration is open from now through May 15. Scan QR code to enroll.

Rockhaven UnCamp

Rockhaven Camp and Retreat Center


Ç (406) 600-1891

Rhythm World Drum Camp


Ç (406) 580.8229


Rhythm World Drum Camps are held in Bozeman at the Emerson. Children ages 5 to 12 are invited to join Chet Leach (aka Mr. Chet) for weeklong drum camps that include drumming from Africa, Brazil, Cuba and Egypt. Your child will learn about world culture through storytelling, games and, of course, lots of DRUMMING!




Rockhaven UnCamp is an innovative summer camping program where freeplay, nature-play and child-led independent play is front and center. They create a safe environment where creativity and imagination can flourish and kids can just be kids, get a little (or maybe a lot) dirty and play like kids are meant to play. UnCamp at Rockhaven takes the schedules, the expectations and the rules out of summer and replaces them with genuine play, natural curiosity, epic messes, muddy faces, sticky fingers and awesome memories that will last a lifetime.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 33
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023

Science Summer Camp

Montana Science Center

Ç (406) 522-9087




It’s a summer of science at Montana Science Center. Join in for hands-on STEM challenges, science experiments, high-tech learning opportunities and more. Summer camp is scientifically more fun at MSC! Camp runs 9 a.m.3 p.m., five days a week; before- and after-care options are available upon request.

State of Play

Summer Art Camp Series


Ç (509) 939-5383


State of Play Summer Camp for 3- to 9-year-olds is offered three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), with half- or full-day options (9 a.m.-1 p.m. or 9 a.m.-3 p.m.). Each week your child will explore a different art material, engaging in offerings and invitations connected to an artistic concept or theme. Through group activities and projects within their art studio and play space, children will learn about different artists and how the materials connect to our everyday world. Daily outdoor lunch and art making will be held in one of the many Cannery green spaces.

Snapology Camps


Ç (406) 438-7241




STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)

camps with LEGO® Bricks

At Snapology summer camps, students have a blast engaging in a variety of STEM activities. Using mostly LEGO® bricks in their programs, they also incorporate other hands-on learning activities using a variety of engaging materials. This summer, Snapology is thrilled to bring their camps to Bozeman and Helena! If your child is a hands-on learner and you would like them to keep those STEAM brains working this summer, these camps are sure to be a ton of fun and educational for all ages! Safety is the priority, and all instructors pass federal background checks.

Summer Climbing Camps Spire Climbing + Fitness


Ç (406) 586-0706




Spire summer camps are a great way for children ages 5–16 to enjoy rock climbing in a fun, structured environment! Beginners learn the essentials of the sport while kids with prior climbing experience take their skills to the next level. Spire summer camps are half-day, weeklong camps, with tons of climbing time in their south Bozeman facility, as well as plenty of fun and games for your child. A mid-day snack keeps your child energized and ready to climb their best throughout the week.

34 may 2023
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023

Wheat Ridge Outdoor Education Summer Camp


Ç (410) 246-5544




The true Montana farm camp experience! Located just three miles west of Four Corners on more than 1,000 sprawling acres of Wheat Ridge Farm, Wheat Ridge Outdoor Education Summer Camp offers students the opportunity to enjoy gardening, hiking, baking, farming, choring, farm equipment, farm animals and much more.

World Language & Culture Camps 2023


Ç (406) 414-6419


WLI offers three weeklong sessions of dynamic and engaging Language & Culture Camps for kids ages 5-15 in a variety of languages that will leave your child dreaming of traveling the globe! Camps are filled with fun games, traditional art and cooking activities, storytelling, songs and more, all led by experienced Language Coaches. Camps are held Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Headwaters Academy, with activities both indoors and outdoors. Language camp offerings vary each year, so please check the website for more details!

Windhorse Equine Learning Beginner Summer Camp


Ç (406) 522-3906




Windhorse Equine Learning offers a unique camp experience where kids learn horsemanship and riding skills while also learning how to be good leaders and fair partners to their horses and each other. The relationship they develop with the horses and the skills they learn to handle them safely and to communicate with them effectively gives kids confidence, builds self-awareness and teaches valuable lessons about respect, trust, empathy and communication. Windhorse also offers classes in six-week sessions in the spring and fall. Camps are half-day, from 9 a.m. to noon, and are for beginner riders.

Yellowstone Alliance Adventures


Ç (406) 763-4727


YAA runs a variety of youth camps for first- through 12th-graders. Whether this is your camper’s first time or they are a “seasoned summer camp pro,” there is bound to be something amazing for them at YAA. Registration includes a YAA-exclusive summer camp T-shirt. What better way for your kids to remember one of the best weeks of their summer than with YAA swag?

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 35
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023

Summit for Youth in Foster Care

@ University of Providence, Great

12 and run through the week of August 21. ExplorationWorks offers camps for kids ages 4 and above. All-day camp combos allow you to pick a morning and an afternoon camp to create your personalized all-day learning adventure. Your scientist will experience one exciting morning camp, break for a supervised lunch, then start the science fun again with an afternoon camp. (Lunch not provided.) There’s sure to be a combo for your budding scientist.

Reach Higher Montana holds an annual Summit for Youth in Foster Care every year in June. The purpose of the summit is to help youth in foster care experience life on a college campus, learn about available resources to achieve education and career goals, and connect to peers across Montana. There is no charge for foster youth to attend. Ages 16-19. Every participant will receive a laptop or life

Montana Learning Center

@ Canyon Ferry Lake

Ç (406) 475-3638

Ç MontanaLearningCenter@

Ç student-programs/

Ç MontanaLearningCenter

Kids get to spend the summer as scientists and explore the world around them. Camps begin the week of June

The Montana Learning Center is Montana’s science camp for kids, a place for students to come together, create and be empowered. Daily camp life includes STEM immersion experiences, friendship-building and recreation at Canyon Ferry Lake. Evening options include a traditional campfire or learning about the night sky at their worldclass observatory. This is a small and personal camp with a staff composed of verified teachers, many of whom are award-winning. Staff to camper ratio is 1:6 or better and each of the instructors and counselors are CPR and First Aidcertified.

…inspiring people of all ages to FLY!
Classes Aerial Fitness Mama & Me Teen/Adult Classes Private Lessons Find us online (406) 595-0909 Summer Camps Birthday Parties Performances Aerial Bartending The sky is the limit!
After School

Snapology Camps


Ç (406) 438-7241




STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) camps with LEGO® Bricks At Snapology summer camps, students have a blast engaging in a variety of STEM activities. Using mostly LEGO® bricks in their programs, they also incorporate other hands-on learning activities using a variety of engaging materials. This summer Snapology is thrilled to bring their camps to Bozeman and Helena! If your child is a hands-on learner and you would like them to keep those STEAM brains working this summer, these camps are sure to be a ton of fun and educational for all ages! Safety is the priority, and all instructors pass federal background checks.

Enrolling Now

For Fall 2023-24


For over 50 years Pilgrim Preschool has been helping children grow and develop socially, physically, emotionally, and academically through creative play, art, music, science, language, and math.

Visit our website or call to enroll your child.




Storytime in the Parks!

Lewis & Clark Library


Ç (406) 447-1690 x131




Storytime in the Parks returns for summer 2023. Join the Lewis & Clark Library at a different Helena city park every Thursday at 10 a.m. for story time. This year, the program is traveling to East Helena, Augusta and Lincoln too. Enjoy 30 minutes of stories, songs, rhymes and more. Library services will be offered at the Lewis & Clark Library Bookmobile after the story time program. Geared toward children between the ages of 3 and 8, but everyone is welcome.

K Beginner to Advanced Riders

K Ages 5 and up

K Life Skill Development Workshop

K Speed/Rodeo Events

K English/Western Riding

K General Horsemanship

Learn more about camps, clinics and events at

cedar ridge equine horsemanship camps, clinics & lessons

Owner/Trainer Amy Prechter email phone 406-282-3355

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 37
Activities + guide
Pilgrim Preschool

Summer Climbing Camp @ Stonetree Climbing Center

Ç youthprograms@

Ç (406) 534-0325

Ç camps

Ç stonetreeclimbing

Ç climbing

Join Stonetree all summer long for the best day camp in Helena. Their weeklong camps encourage kids to be active, build confidence, play creatively and foster new friendships. Campers spend the day climbing, challenging their comfort zones, playing games on and off the climbing walls, doing arts and crafts and having a blast. Experienced instructors make sure that every climber leaves having learned something new and with a smile on their face. Camps also include outdoor excursions and daily snacks. Instructor ratio is 1:7 and camps are for ages 6-13. Register early; camps sell out!


Summer Library Program & Reading Challenge

Lewis & Clark Library


Ç (406) 447-1690


Create, read and imagine at your library this summer! All branches of the Lewis & Clark Library will be hosting programs, events and reading challenges for all ages along the theme of All Together Now, focused on kindness, friendship and community.

River Camps

Salmon River

Adventure Company

North Fork, Idaho


Ç (208) 993-7722


Ç SalmonRiverAdventureCo


SRAC River Camps are all inclusive: glamping, meals, equipment and lessons. Each day students will spend a morning and afternoon session on the water honing their skills learning the fundamentals of whitewater – paddling strokes, river safety, how to “read” the river, etc. In the evenings, they will review performance by looking at videos from the day and focus on team building though various games and activities. SRAC's goal is to offer the highest level of coaching to develop the next generation of river runners in a fun and safe environment.

Teen Downtown Scavenger Hunt

Lewis & Clark Library


Ç (406) 447-1690


Begin at the library by picking up your Scavenger Hunt kit and then head downtown in search of clues. Solve the clues and win prizes! Open to the first 50 participants, no registration required. Last clue given at 4:30 p.m.


38 may 2023
more info and schdules for these camps in our interactive Summer Camp and Activity Finder @
Activities + guide SUMMER 2023

Seventh Annual Moms Like Me

May 13, 2023

The Seventh Annual Moms Like Me, hosted by Roots Family Collaborative, will hit the stage Saturday, May 13 at the Elm in downtown Bozeman. Without a doubt, Moms Like Me is the most powerful event in our community honoring the complex and beautiful journey of motherhood.

Bozeman Winter Farmers Market

May 13 & 27, 2023

What began more than 10 years ago as a small group of farmers selling veggies, the Bozeman Winter Farmers Market is now a large community of local farmers, ranchers, artisans, bakers and community members selling their winter produce and homebaked and homemade goods. The final winter markets will be held May 13 and 17, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds in Exhibit Building 1.

Haven’s Mother’s Day 5K

This year’s signature event, to be held on Mother’s Day weekend, will feature three local mothers sharing their honest experiences of motherhood, interwoven with engaging performances from our Mom Band, comedy skits and the beloved raffle basket drawing, featuring items from local businesses to honor mothers.

This FREE, one-of-a-kind community event was created to:

» Raise awareness about the realities of parenthood

» Reduce shame and stigma around perinatal mental health

» Celebrate and support moms and families in the greater Gallatin region

» Promote inclusivity and compassion

» Create community and connect parents to resources

» Provide a beautiful and unique evening out for parents

If you are a mother or love one, Moms Like Me is an evening you definitely don’t want to miss. Doors open at 4 p.m., the event will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Childcare will be generously provided by Dino Drop-In so parents may enjoy an evening out.

May 14, 2023

Haven’s Mother’s Day 5K will take place on Sunday, May 14 at 9 a.m. at Bozeman Pond Park. The run started in 2012 as a way to celebrate the mother figures in our lives while raising awareness about domestic violence in the Gallatin Valley. The course will weave through the Valley West neighborhood, following roads and park trails, including a loop around the Meyer’s Park Pond. This family fun run is stroller and kid-friendly, with wide sidewalks and trails. The total elevation change along the course is only a gradual 50 feet, making it accessible for all levels of runners, walkers and other participants. Leashed dogs are welcome to join in the event as well.

The Mother’s Day 5K is going cupless this year; in its place, water stations will be available for participants to refill water bottles and hydration packs. Reusable speed cups will be provided for the first 300 registrants.

Registration is open now through 8:30 a.m. the morning of the run. Cost is $45 with teams of four or more priced at $30 per person. Event details can be found at Feel free to reach out to China Reevers at china@havenmt. org or 406-586-7689 with any questions.

40 may 2023

Montana Science Center After Dark Series

Great Science Bake-off featuring

Elle’s Belles

May 18, 2023

Elle Fine, local baker extraordinaire, will help you understand why you want to get your chemistry right when it comes to baking. Come and compete in a science-y decorating contest! Held Thursday, May 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For ages 21 and over, cost is $25 or free with an After Dark Membership. RSVP at www.

Sacred Motherhood Gathering

May 28, 2023

This gathering draws inspiration from the book Sacred Motherhood to remind ourselves we are sacred, even if we don’t feel like it at times in our current state of mothering. For mothers with children of any age. The next gathering will feature Rebecca Farhrner of Persephone Rising Rituals, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Emergence Movement & Wellness (521 E. Peach St.). Cost is $10 (no one will be turned away for lack of funds). For more information visit: https://www.

Future Sacred Motherhood


Ç June 11 – Heather Baughman of Infinite Potential Bodywork

Ç July 16 - TBA

Ç Aug 13 – Julia Bond Guercio of With the Earth

Ç Sept 10 – Cora DeSantis, Reiki Master



invites you to join us at our Mountaintop Ranch for another season of fun and learning in our Summer Day Camps and Adult Week-end Retreats & Workshops

Horses, Hiking, Art, Drumming, Yoga

All for you at the K-J Ranch just East of Bozeman!

Our Summer Day Camps offer your kids a week of fun-filled learning with Horsemanship, Art, Yoga, Meditation, Hiking, Drumming and more

Parents deserve time for Rest and Rejuvenation as well! Our Adult Retreats provide just this!

So, come and join us for the best summer of your life!


June 26-30 | Kids Camp Session 1 (ages 8-10) | Daily:10am-4pm

July 17-21 | Kids Camp Session 2 (ages 10-12) | Daily:10am-4pm

Aug 7-11 | Back to School Camp (ages 10-14) | Daily:10am-4pm


Dates To Be Arranged for the following Retreats & Workshops: Women’s Rest and Renewal | Discover Your Life Purpose Goal Achievement Summit



Offices: 111 Grand, Suite 275 | Emerson Cultural Center in Bozeman

K-J Ranch: 20010 Bridger Hollow Road, Bozeman

406.587.4036 Email:

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 41
Wall of Bugs • Crystals • Sapphire Jewelry Montana Fossils • Gold Pans • Eclectic Gifts est. 1989 25 N. Willson • 586-3451 •

Gold Rush Days Festival

May 5–7, 2023

Gold Rush Days in Helena is a weekend-long event celebrating the region’s gold rush history.

The festival features a variety of activities, including the Vigilante Parade, pastie competitions, open mic, square dancing, Gold Rush Royalty crowning, walking tours and more.

Participants can enjoy events such as the 5k Gold Color Run, Touch-a-Truck, Ms. Lumberjack Competition, Quick Draw with Art Auction and gold and sapphire panning. The festival offers a mix of fun, education and entertainment for the whole family, making it an unforgettable experience. For more information visit www.

World Migratory Bird Day Festival

May 6, 2023


Don’t Fence Me in Trail Run

May 13, 2023

Join hundreds of trail enthusiasts in Helena for the 23rd Annual Don’t Fence Me in Trail Run. This race is all about coming together and celebrating our unifying love of the outdoors and running wild.

Mother’s Day at Tizer Gardens

May 14, 2023

Montana WILD will celebrate World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2668 Broadwater Ave. This free festival will include more than 20 bird-related stations run by partner organizations including the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana Discovery Foundation, Lake Helena Watershed Group, Birds & Beasleys, Prickly Pear Land Trust, Last Chance Audubon Society and the Bureau of Reclamation. These stations will feature guided bird walks, educational activities, live raptors, crafts, a taco truck, the book mobile and so much more.

Spring Art Walk

May 12, 2023

Come celebrate the arts at the Spring Art Walk on May 12 from 4 to 8 p.m. Listed as one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America,” Helena has a vibrant arts community with numerous fine art galleries, museums and theaters.

The Spring Art Walk is an annual event organized by Downtown Helena, Inc. and co-sponsored by the Business Improvement District, drawing hundreds of people downtown for a fun and vibrant night. This highly anticipated annual event is dedicated to displaying Helena’s finest artists hosted by downtown businesses. There will be live music and door prizes at select locations. Be sure to come hungry as there will be food trucks too!

This iconic major recreation event has something for people of all ages; whether pushing through the 30K race, scrambling through hills and trees with the 5K or 12K courses, or taking time to sniff the wild roses in the noncompetitive 5K Dog Walk, all offer opportunities to celebrate local wild lands and our connection to them. Stick around afterwards for a party in the park with food, live music and familyfriendly fun.

Funds raised by this race support the South Hills Trail system and open lands in Helena, Montana. The South Hills Trail system can be accessed from downtown Helena and provides access for many outdoor recreation opportunities such as trail running, mountain biking and hiking. Register at events/dont-fence-me-intrail-run-2023/; kids under 13 run for free.

This year, celebrate Mother’s Day at Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum. As tradition has it, moms get in FREE. Bring a picnic and explore the beautifully curated grounds. Your mother is sure to love being surrounded by the flowers and tranquility of this peaceful garden and arboretum.

Located near Jefferson City in the heart of the Elkhorn Mountains, Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum offers visitors six acres of stunning gardens and arboretum to explore with more than one half-mile of trails, a diverse Garden Center, a beautiful wedding and special occasion venue, as well as various festivals and educational activities throughout the year.

Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum is one of only three internationally accredited arboreta in the United States that is privately owned and Montana’s only full-time operated Botanical Garden and Arboretum. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

42 may 2023

It’s important to take action now to maintain your health insurance if you or your kids are on Medicaid or Healthy Montana Kids.

During the COVID pandemic, a federal law was passed that allowed everyone to remain on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (known as Healthy Montana Kids, or HMK in Montana) during the pandemic. Now that the pandemic is winding down, states are allowed to start processing redeterminations again. This means that everyone who has been on Medicaid or HMK will need to go through the renewal process for the first time in three years. This process has been called the “Medicaid unwinding.”

Nearly one in three Montanans is on Medicaid or HMK, and processing these renewals will be a big undertaking for the state. The renewal process will take 10 months, and a portion of the households will be redetermined each month. People may fall through the cracks if their contact information is not up to date, or if they do not return their renewal materials in a timely manner.

So, what do families need to do?

1. If you haven’t already, head to to update your contact information. Even if you haven’t moved or changed phone numbers recently, it’s good to verify that your information is correct and to make an online account. This way you will be able to see what month your renewal will happen. You can also sign up to receive e-mail and text notifications.


2. If you receive any mail from the Department of Public Health and Human Services, respond immediately. If you need to send in more information and do not, you risk losing your Medicaid insurance.

3. If you lose your coverage, head to to find out what options for affordable health insurance are available to you.

If you have questions about the renewal process, you can call the Montana Public Assistance Help Line at 888-706-1535 or stop by a local Office of Public Assistance. You can also call the Cover Montana Help Line at (844) 682-6837.

The good news is that most people who are no longer eligible for Medicaid will be eligible for insurance through their employer, or will be able to purchase low-cost health insurance through the marketplace. You can go to for more information on how to find affordable health insurance options.

To keep everyone healthy as we move out of the pandemic, we must make sure that no Montanans fall through the cracks during this process. Let’s spread the word about the Medicaid unwinding, and make sure our families, friends and neighbors can stay covered.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 43
Jackie Semmens is a policy analyst at the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

Agriculture Opening Up to Mental Health Discussion

Being a parent living on a farm or ranch has unique challenges. Your home is not only where you live, but also your workplace and your passion. Farming and ranching often means living in remote areas, being at the mercy of the weather and at the whim of the markets, intense daily physical labor and large financial outlays. Those stressors can be the cause of mental health issues for many farmers and ranchers.

“I can pull myself through, alone, no matter what,” has long been the mantra of those in agriculture, leading to a lifestyle that research shows has a higher likelihood of developing a major depressive disorder than any other occupational group.

Fortunately, that mindset is changing. Leaders in agriculture, extension agents and the agricultural producers themselves are beginning to prioritize and value mental health. Increasing the conversations around ag mental health has also begun to decrease the stigma around it. More agriculturalists are talking about suicide and stress among themselves and are slowly becoming more willing to seek help in overcoming mental health issues.

Kendra Lewis, founder of the Cutting Fences Foundation, serves the agricultural and veteran populations. She has developed podcasts for people to gain inspiration and resilience by listening to the stories of others.

She noted that being an example of the humility that comes from struggling with mental health and the courage of asking for help and finding healing are essential. “We really need to start modeling how we are going to eliminate stigma,” Kendra said. “We need to be open about what causes stress and mental health concerns. Kids are very observant, so if we can be open about dealing with stress and mental health issues, they will follow in our footsteps by learning to be comfortable discussing mental health and finding the resilience to move forward.”

Farmers and ranchers who have been in accidents are featured on the Cutting Fences podcasts, addressing how they overcame their injuries to lead successful and productive lives. “You can find healing through neighbors, and through other people who have been through something similar. It’s important to find someone you can connect with and who can empathize with you,” Kendra advised.

On one Cutting Fences podcast, mom Kaila Anderson talked about her program, LandLogic, which addresses how people in agriculture develop an innate connection to the land and how that can create healing. “She uses the aerial map of their land to tailor a client-centered therapeutic tool. She has them draw that map and find places on their land where they are most at peace, and understand why that particular area brings them peace,” said Kendra. “There is something to be said about the land and being out in nature and how grounding that can be. Of course, possibly the hardest part about agriculture is what brings the most peace may also be the thing that causes the most stress.”

Being out on farm and ranch land, and even going for nature walks, not only helps make everyone more mindful, but gets kids away from the computer, iPad and cell phone screens.

Youth in agriculture develop a sense of working toward a goal. “Doing tasks on your land with your children means it’s more than just a day’s work, it’s part of a legacy being passed down; it is a sense of purpose,” said Kendra. “Children learn that when you’re tending land and livestock, it’s a process that takes time, it’s not something done in an instant—and that can be exceedingly positive for mental health.“

“I think it’s important for parents to give kids real-life examples when they’ve struggled with something on the ranch or in life and show how they worked through it,” she said. “Let your children know it’s OK to struggle and have those open conversations so that when kids are struggling, they know they’re supported and not alone.”

To listen to the Cutting Fences Podcasts, visit

Note: Kendra had a mom donate her son’s power wheelchair to the Cutting Fences Foundation. Kendra is hoping to find a home for it. Contact Kendra at

44 may 2023 family Life on the Ranch
Rebecca Colnar is Director of Public Relations for Montana Farm Bureau and a freelance writer from Custer, Montana.

Ask Flora

Q: How do you motivate a 13-year-old to willingly get up for school in the morning? It feels like a power struggle but I also know they are growing and tired at that age. – Abby

A: I love this question, and think it would be perfect to directly ask the 13-year-old.

As children reach 9 and 10 years of age, they increasingly want to feel more ownership of their routines and solutions to problems. So, take a moment that is not rushed or stressful to ask your child about this challenging area. A simple neutral lead-in could be something like, “I’ve noticed you’re having a hard time with (insert problem). Tell me about that.” The goal here is to explore and dig into the challenge with the child to uncover some unsolved issues.

It’s often easy to skip this “digging” step because we assume we know why the child isn’t doing better in the situation. We may even make character assumptions like, “He’s just lazy/difficult/moody,” or, “He just doesn’t care about how it affects everyone else.” But when we take the time to ask curious questions and listen, well, we may uncover an unsolved problem that we can help the child solve. Also, we are demonstrating the behaviors we would like to see from our children: The behaviors of listening to what someone else has to say. Basically, if we want them to hear us, we must first be willing to listen. Put more bluntly in Raising Good Humans by Ross Green:

“If you’re not trying hard to ensure (your child’s) concerns are heard, clarified and addressed, eventually your child will stop talking to you. Then you won’t have a problem-solving partner, the problems won’t get solved, and you won’t have much influence.”

The good news is that this discussion has a very high likelihood of being productive because when a child is involved in making a plan, they are much more likely to act on that plan. And finally, I recommend setting a date with the child to follow up on whether or not their plan is working out successfully. Setting a date allows for an easy open door to check back with your kiddo and facilitate another discussion, where he makes new plans until he has landed on something that works.

In this column, you can ask your questions about parenting kids from ages 2 to 10 to Flora McCormick, Licensed Counselor & Parenting Coach.

Q: Is there anything you would recommend for siblings who are constantly at each other’s throats, like severely, and won’t stop pushing each other just for the sake of causing problems no matter how many times they’re told to leave each other alone. – Audrey

A: Sibling rivalry is such a common issue, from ages 2 to 22…and sometimes even beyond! I recommend asking a few key questions to see if these could help you step into a direction of solving the problem.

Do you often seek to find who’s at fault?

Do you find yourself stepping into their conflicts and acting as judge and jury to who started the fight, and who should be punished? If so, I recommend shifting your approach to follow the advice of Positive Discipline: “Put ‘em in the same boat.” Hold all parties accountable equally by asking both children to take some time in separate rooms or removing the toy they are fighting over so no one gets it for the rest of the day. This is important because there was likely something that all parties were contributing to. This also keeps you from the risk of naming the “wrong” person as the guilty party. Finally, you won’t be in danger of having one child start to believe you always favor the other sibling more. This favoritism (even if only perceived) fuels more negative interactions between siblings.

“When adults refuse to get involved in children’s fights or put the children in the same boat by treating them the same for fighting, the biggest motive for fighting is eliminated.” – PositiveDiscipline. com

Do you have family meetings that encourage positive sibling problem-solving and compliments?

This is another recommendation from Positive Discipline. Helpful family meetings can follow this outline:

» A compliment circle where each person is in the spotlight for a period where the other family members all give one compliment. Each family member gets a turn in the spotlight (including parents).

» Solve one family challenge, for example, “We have been having a hard time getting out the door in the mornings without nagging, reminding or things getting forgotten. What can we do to solve that?” Spend five minutes brainstorming ideas where no idea is considered “too silly” or “wrong.” Then, as a family, choose the solution that works best for everyone.

» End with something fun, like ice cream sundaes or a family game night.

FLORA: To get more sanity-saving strategies for parenting young kids, join Flora’s Free Facebook Group: Sustainable Parenting. Questions for the next issue or wins/questions from this issue can be submitted to A special thank you to those who submit monthly questions.

:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 45

Keeping it Real

Happy Mother’s Day, Montana mamas.

Life is messy. Kids are definitely messy, and that’s part of the beauty. When you stop setting expectations for things, you unlock a new level of parenting, one that places priority on meaningful reactions and interactions rather than a pre-planned life of perfection.

2) Stress is your new life partner

Speaking of stress, consider her your new best friend. No one tells expectant moms that the stress of being pregnant multiplies the second they have a baby. You will spend nights watching them breathe after a fever or a big fall. You’ll Google hours upon hours of “Is this normal?” You will stress about progress in school, if they are making friends, and the right friends at that. Stress, she is always there, lurking in the shadows. Embrace her and know she isn’t going away, ever.

3) Kids are sticky and smelly

Here is a photo of me in 2015 with my first child, Sven. I was 25.

Just look at that baby (me) and the newborn too. Look at her eyes, scared to death, hopeful, naive and oblivious to what was to come.

She is no longer here. She was gobbled up and spat out by motherhood. And what remains is someone who still looks sort of the same, with more wrinkles, breasts mauled by three babies and gravity, and a more skeptical outlook on the outside world that surrounds her world, the one she has painstakingly built.

I think back to that girl I once was and wish someone had told me these things; of course, that’s not how life works. To save you new moms some unruly wrinkles, here are some pieces of advice from my time served.

1) Learn to change your expectations

Whatever you were expecting, “unexpect it.”

Expectation is just a fancy word for pressure. And expectation (cough cough, pressure) will not only destroy you but it will manifest as stress and be passed on to your children.

Birthday parties don’t need to look like something from Pinterest. A massive pile of unfolded clothes on your bedroom floor is perfectly normal. Your child doesn’t need to walk at eight months old, and they don’t need to be perfectly behaved and dressed all the time.

Save the money from a nice wardrobe and put it into a 529 plan. Whenever I find a cute but pricey outfit, I buy something similar but cheaper and put the difference in my kids’ college funds. They will thank me later. Accept that kids are messy, sticky and smelly. They don’t need to look like they walked out of an Instagram ad. Let them be, for childhood is so short and real pants are overrated.

4) Failure is opportunity

Man, I thought I was going to be a perfect parent. I had, at age 25, seen it all (ha-ha) and knew exactly what to do to be the best mom ever. Then I failed. He would get hurt, or I would lose my cool. I’d raise my voice or be petty. Over time, I realized that parenthood failure is inevitable but not to be wasted. I still fail. I blow it. I lose it. I need to be more hands-on, or I’m too much of a hovercraft parent. It’s a lose-lose. So, while I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not the perfect mom, I’ve come to embrace the unintentional “mom fail.” Overcoming my stubbornness has allowed me to pause, mentally note how to do better and apologize sincerely to my child. The joy here is that my kids have a front row seat to seeing how one should apologize, humble themselves and ask for help.

And, damn, that’s a beautiful thing.

Whether your kids now have kids of their own, or you are expecting your first in the near future, happy motherhood from our parenting village here at Montana Parent magazine.

46 may 2023
Blair Fjeseth is a working professional and proud Montana mom. You can reach her at Follow her Instagram @blair_mt for more adventures.

May 2023

How to enter:

Look for this post on the Montana Parent Facebook and Instagram page starting May 3.

1. Like the post and Tag one friend

2. Follow Montana Parent magazine on Facebook and Instagram (if you don’t already!)

3. Follow The Last Best Trails Montana on Facebook and Instagram too!

Other info:

ENTER TO win The Last Best trails Montana Gift Basket

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The art of year-round trail adventuring (Available May 3rd) combines three books on hiking, biking, and skiing in to one!

Included in the gift basket is a copy of The Last Best Trails Montana

The Last Best Trails is a passion project by Montana native and every season trails enthusiast -Bryan Schaeffer.

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:: calendars, blog & more @ MTPARENT.COM :: may 2023 47
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