Okpik Winter Adventure

Welcome And Introduction

For over forty years the Okpik program of Northern Tier National High Adventure Programs has provided safe, exhilarating and challenging adventures for thousands of youth and adult participants. The name, Okpik, comes from the Inuit word for the Arctic or Snowy Owl which has been used as the symbol for the Okpik program since it began in the early 1970’s.

Okpik Participants learn how to cross-country ski, snowshoe, dogsled, ice fish, build snow shelters and enjoy life in extreme weather conditions and temperatures. All groups are accompanied by a trained staff instructor, called an Interpreter, who serves as a teacher of cold weather camping skills. The Okpik program fully outfits crews with group gear and almost all necessary personal clothing (Okpik Gear List). The goal of the Okpik program is to instruct crews on how to see low temperatures as an opportunity, not a barrier, to turn a 3-season camper into a year-round camper.

Okpik is hosted at the Ely base of Northern Tier, outside of Ely, Minnesota. Crews explore the Superior National Forest and the famed Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), a massive wilderness area that lies directly adjacent to the base property. No city lights, no noise, simply wilderness.

Okpik is the premier Cold Weather Camping Program of the Boy Scouts of America. We are excited by your interest in cold weather camping and we look forward to introducing you to the wonders of a North Woods winter.

The following is the 2018-2019 PDF version of the Okpik Planning Guide and Okpik Participant Handbook available by selecting one of the following images:







Dog Program Descriptions

Basic Dog Sledding Program – These programs stay on or near the Northern Tier Base for the duration of the trip. Full description of each program is below. The mileage on these trips is limited and they would be a better fit to first time or beginning winter campers.

  • Musher Camp – Crews spend their entire weekend with the dogs: going on runs of up to 10 miles every morning and afternoon, providing other Okpik participants with rides, feeding the dogs breakfast and dinner and sleeping in a heated cabin directly adjacent to the dog yard. Minimum trip length: 3 nights. Minimum age is 14 or in 8th grade by the time of arrival at base. Maximum group size is 7 and minimum group size is 6. Participants will receive the Okpik Cold Weather Camper Award and may purchase the Okpik Musher Camp Award.
  • Introductory Dog Sled Trek – A step up from the Musher Camp, the introductory Dogsled Trek is intended for those who have some dog sledding or winter camping experience. It involves taking 18 Alaskan Huskies out on the ice for two nights! After setting up a permanent camp, crews will explore the pristine and remote Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness on morning and afternoon runs of up to 10 miles. Minimum Trip Length: 3 nights (including one spent on base). Minimum age 14 or in 8th grade by the time of arrival at base; maximum crew size is 7. Participants will receive the Okpik Cold Weather Camper Award and may purchase the Okpik Dog Trek Award if at least 2 nights are spent out on the ice.

Advanced Dog Sled Program – A step up from our Basic Dog Sledding programs, the Advanced Dog Sled Trek is intended for those that have previous dog sledding or winter camping experience. This program will travel more significant distances from the Northern Tier Base, sometimes even departing from or returning to another location all together. Crews will get a more robust winter experience, in more extreme conditions. This program is better suited towards those with previous winter camping experience. Minimum Trip Length: 3 nights (including one spent on base). Minimum age 14 or in 8th grade by the time of arrival at base; maximum crew size is 7. Participants will receive the Okpik Cold Weather Camper Award and may purchase the Okpik Dog Trek Award if at least 2 nights are spent out on the ice.

KAPVIK – A New Winter Camping Adventure

There’s exciting news on the horizon for Northern Tier’s Okpik Program: this winter, we’re partnering with Michigan Crossroads Council to deliver Okpik – Kapvik

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 including:

  • Holiday Stay: December 27, 2018 – January 1, 2019
  • Session 1: January 3-7, 2019
  • Cold Weather Leader Training: January 10-15, 2019
  • Session 2: January 18-21, 2019

First registration opportunities were given to current Okpik waitlist crews, however there are additional opportunities available for crews to sign up for the opening year of Kapvik. Kapvik programs will include cabin stay and Okpik Camping Weekend (Okpik Camping Weekend is a BSA Triple Crown qualifying program) where crews can learn to enjoy cold weather camping, cross country skiing, snowshoe trekking, and much more.

Registration is also open for Northern Tiers Cold Weather Leader Training which will now be held at Gerber Scout Reservation as a part of Kapvik.

Come be part of history in Kapvik’s inaugural year!

For more information contact Northern Tier at (218) 365-4811 or email sean.ferrier@scouting.org