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. Northern Tier crews paddle in almost 6 million acres of exclusively canoe-access 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.
In the winter, Northern Tier is home to the Okpik Cold Weather Camping program, the BSA’s premier winter high adventure program. Fall trips are also available.
All trips are fully outfitted and provisioned. A highly trained staff member, called an Interpreter, accompanies all crews on their trek.
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.
We are a Cooperator with the USDA Forest Service under the Superior National Forest. We issue permits into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. As a Cooperator with the Forest Service, we are an equal opportunity service-provider.
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) in Minnesota and the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. Trips out of the Sommers base are limited to 8 total participants plus an Interpreter.
Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base is also home to several unique individual scout programs: the Order of the Arrow’s Wilderness Voyage; 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. LEARN MORE
Ely, MN & Twin Lake, MI – Okpik Cold Weather Camping Program
Aside from summer adventures, The Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base hosts the Okpik Cold Weather Camping Program, the premier winter camping program in the Boy Scouts of America. The Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base 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. Four types of Okpik experiences are currently offered: Cabin Stays, Okpik Weekend Samplers, Okpik Treks, and Dogsled Trips
The Kapvik pilot program is an official Northern Tier program aimed at bringing world class winter camping opportunities to more scouts than ever before. Kapvik will be held at Gerber Scout Reservation near Muskegon Michigan over four weekends. LEARN MORE.
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 traveling in the Crown Land and 8 participants plus an interpreter if traveling in the Quetico. LEARN MORE.
Bissett, MB – Northern Expeditions Canoe Base
Unofficially regarded as the “Most Extreme High Adventure in Scouting,” the Northern Expeditions (“Bissett”) Canoe 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. Northern Pike, Walleye and Channel Catfish abound the Bissett region. The fishing truly is world class and the difficult geography ensures that it will remain so.
Crews are limited to the size of 11 participants plus an Interpreter. Bissett is most appropriate for older crews with previous High Adventure experience. LEARN MORE.