About Northern Tier National High Adventure Program
Northern Tier is the Boy Scouts of America’s gateway to adventure in the Great Northwoods. In the Summer, scouts from Northern Tier’s three wilderness canoe bases explore millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests and wetlands in Northern Minnesota, Northwest Ontario and Northeast Manitoba. In the winter, Northern Tier is home to the OKPIK Cold-Weather Camping program, the BSA's premier winter high adventure program. Fall programming is also available.
Northern Tier offers wilderness canoeing expeditions in Northern Minnesota, Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Manitoba through three canoe bases. All trips are fully outfitted and provisioned. A highly trained staff member, called an Interpreter, accompanies all crews on their trek.
Northern Tier crews paddle in almost 6 million acres of canoe-access only wilderness - from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of Minnesota to the Atikaki Provincial Park of Manitoba. Trips range in length from 6-14 days and usually include between 50-150 miles of wilderness travel. Find out more about the opportunities available at Northern Tier's three wilderness canoe bases (the Charles L Sommers Base, Ely, MN; the Donald Rogert Base, Atikokan, ON; and the Northern Expeditions Base, Bissett, MB) as well as the several provisional programs Northern Tier offers to individual scouts.
All participants must be age 14 by the time they arrive at Northern Tier OR have graduated from the 8th grade and be age 13 by the time they arrive.
Ely, MN - Charles L Sommers Canoe Base
The flagship base of Northern Tier, the Charles L Sommers Canoe Base has hosted Boy Scout Canoe Expeditions on the shores of Moose Lake since 1941. Located twenty miles, outside of the town of Ely, MN, the Sommers Base outfits over 4,000 scouts each year on wilderness canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of Minnesota and the Quetico Provincial Park of Ontario. Trips out of the Sommers base are limited to the size of 8 participants plus an Interpreter.
In addition to hosting Northern Tier's typical canoe expeditions, Charles L Sommers is home to several unique individual scout programs: the Order of the Arrow's Wilderness Voyage Program; Forest Corps, a coeducational environmental leadership program; and Lone Voyageur, a program that allows for individual scouts and smaller troops to take out a Northern Tier trip
Atikokan, ON - Donald Rogert Canoe Base
Located an 80-mile paddle North of the Sommers base, the Donald Rogert ("Atikokan") Canoe Base outfits 1500 scouts each year for expeditions into the Northern regions of the Quetico Provincial Park as well as into the Canadian Crown Lands, including the Turtle River - White Otter Lake Provincial Park. The Quetico is a gorgeous and pure wilderness, with traces of human travel; the Crown Lands region features the remains of a used wilderness - trappers cabins, age-old gold mines and even the remains of a World War II Prisoner of War camp can be found amidst the beautiful wilds of the Canadian Shield (a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil). Crew sizes may be up to 11 participants plus an Interpreter if travelling in the Crown Land and 8 participants plus an interpreter if traveling in the Quetico.
Bissett, MB - Northern Expeditions Canoe Base
Unofficially regarded as the "Most Extreme High Adventure in Scouting," the Northern Expeditions ("Bissett") Base is the most rugged and remote region paddled by Northern Tier crews. All crews enter the wilderness via a twenty-minute float plane to a canoe cache located at the heart of the combined 2.5 million acres of Atikaki Provincial Park and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, an area paddled by only a handful of canoeists each year. Crews are limited to the size of 11 participants plus an Interpreter.
Fishing in the Bissett region is world class - Northern Pike, Walleye and Channel Catfish abound - and the difficult geography ensures that it will remain so. Bissett is most appropriate for older crews with previous High Adventure experience.
Northern Tier is the site of the Boy Scouts of America's National Cold Weather Camping Development Center. OKPIK Cold Weather Camping, Northern Tier's winter offering, is the BSA's premier winter camping program. At OKPIK, Scouts experience a true Northwoods winter: learning how to thrive in subzero temperatures, travel across frozen wilderness lakes and construct their own sleeping structures out of snow. All trips are fully outfitted and provisioned, including almost all of the personal gear necessary to stay warm in the winter. A highly trained staff member, called an Interpreter, accompanies all crews on their trek.
The OKPIK program is hosted out of the Charles L Sommers Wildernes Canoe Base, located outside of Ely, MN, on the very edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Four types of OKPIK experiences are currently offered: Cabin Stays, OKPIK Weekend Samplers, OKPIK Treks, and Dogsled Trips
The Cabin Stay program is designed to introduce younger scouts to the idea of winter camping. Cabin Stay crews stay in a heated cabin each night, but fully explore the winter wilderness during the day. Cabin Stay participants may learn how to cross-country ski, snowshoe and ice fish.
OKPIK Weekend Samplers
The OKPIK Weekend Sampler is designed to teach Scouts the basics of winter camping. In this program, crews will pack their gear onto sleds (or "pulks") and head out into the wilderness to spend 1-2 nights. Scouts will learn how to set up a winter campsite, how to build snow shelters and how to cook meals at low temperatures. In addition, they will get to try out a full array of winter activities
The bread and butter of the OKPIK Program, OKPIK Treks provide older scouts with the opportunity to test their camping skills in a true winter wilderness. Crews travel by ski, snowshoe or foot into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for at least two nights, learning how to travel efficiently and enjoyably in the more difficult conditions of the Minnesota winter. Crews can expect to travel between 5 and 15 miles on their trek through a remote winter wilderness.
OKPIK Dogsled Trips are designed to teach Scouts how to care for and run sledding dogs. There are two types of Dogsled Trips: Musher Camps stay in a heated cabin on base, and take the dogs out for half-day and day-long runs; Dogsled Treks head out into the wilderness with their dog teams and camp with the dogs out on the ice. In both experiences, Scouts will take ownership of a team dogs, learning how to feed, house, harness, and otherwise care for them.