HOW DO I PLAN A TRIP?

Northern Tier makes planning an OKPIK trip simple. At any point along the way, we encourage you to contact us via e-mail (info@ntier.org) or phone (218.365.4811) with any questions. Paperwork for High Adventure Trips often requires a meticulous eye. It is easier for you and Northern Tier if you contact us with a question rather than arrive at our base with a paperwork issue.

The planning process is a 5-step plan:

STEP 1: WHAT TRIP OPTIONS ARE THERE?
Introductory Treks
Intermediate Treks
Advanced Treks
Dog Programs
Additional Awards Available
Other Opportunities

STEP 2: HOW DO I MAKE MY RESERVATION AND PAY?
What's the payment schedule?
What's the refund policy?
What expenses are not covered by the Northern Tier Basic Fees?

STEP 3: HOW DO I FULFILL ALL BSA POLICY REQUIREMENTS?

STEP 4: HOW SHOULD WE PREPARE?
What should we bring?
How do we prepare mentally and physically?
What are the Height and Weight Requirements?

STEP 5: HOW DO WE GET THERE TO START OUR ADVENTURE?

STEP 1: WHAT TRIP OPTIONS ARE THERE?

OKPIK provides six different program options to help crews plan trips that match their desires and needs. These trips are grouped into four categories:

Click here for an easy-to-read chart of the different options. Detailed descriptions are below.

Introductory treks (Cabin Stay Program and WEBELOS OKPIK Weekend) that acquaint scouts with the basics of outdoor winter activities.

Intermediate treks (OKPIK Sampler Weekend) that focus on developing higher skills, like snow camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more.

Advanced treks (minimum of 2 nights on the trail plus one night on base) that encourage scouts to explore deeper into the wilderness to test their skills further. Treks are done on either Snowshoes or Skis depending on the current snow and ice conditions.

Dog Sled programs include our popular Musher Camp, which serves as an introduction to dog sledding and for our experienced crews, our Dog Trek program.

Most trips occur over weekends throughout the winter months (January to the first weekend of March) with the exception of our Holiday Stay Programs. The Holiday Stay opens the season (December 27 – January 1) and allows crews to take longer trips and to customize their experience to a greater degree.

Overall, the planning of trips is very flexible. The OKPIK staff looks forward to working with you to design the trip that best suits your abilities and interests. A more detailed program description is included below. Click here for an easy to read chart of what activities are available for each program.

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INTRODUCTORY TREKS

WEBELOS OKPIK WEEKEND (WOW) introduces 1st and 2nd year WEBELOS to winter activities: ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice carving and more. Any 1st or 2nd year WEBELOS can participate; however, EACH WEBELOS MUST have an adult partner. Group size must be 3 WEBELOS and 3 adults with a maximum of 12 people.

OKPIK CABIN STAY participants will be able to experience a full range of winter activities while still being able to enjoy a warm cabin at night. Crews will take day trips out to lakes in the area, learning how to ski, snowshoe and ice fish in the process. They will also learn how to cook breakfast and dinner meals in winter conditions. Minimum age is 11 by the time of arrival at base. Maximum group size is 11 and minimum group size is 6. Participants will receive the OKPIK Cabin Stay Award.

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INTERMEDIATE TREKS

OKPIK SAMPLER WEEKEND provides a basic introduction to camping in winter conditions. Participants will hike out to a wilderness lake, towing their gear in sleds (pulks), set up a campsite and spend the one or two nights camping. In addition, they will be exposed to a wide variety of winter activities: snowshoeing, ice fishing, skiing and even a brief introduction to dog sledding. Minimum age is 13 by the time of arrival at base. Maximum group size is 11 and minimum group size is 6. Participants will receive the standard OKPIK Award.

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ADVANCED TREKS

OKPIK TREK – Scouts travel by snowshoes or skis (depending on current snow and ice conditions) further out into the wilderness, pulling their gear on sleds (pulks) and camping a minimum of 2 nights in the woods. Typically, they travel 7-12 miles over the course of their trip, setting up camp in two different places along the way. An excellent way to develop advanced winter camping and travel skills and to see a greater part of the area. All crews receive a brief introduction to dog sledding and may also choose to add ice fishing and other winter activities to their trek. Minimum Trip Length: 3 nights (including 1 spent on base). Minimum age is 14 by the time of arrival at base; maximum crew size of 8 and minimum crew size of 6. Participants will receive the standard OKPIK Award and may purchase the appropriate Trek Award if at least 2 nights are spent out on the ice and change campsites at least once.

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DOG PROGRAMS

OKPIK MUSHER CAMP provides participants with an introduction to dog sledding. 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. Crews may also choose to add ice fishing and other winter activities to their trek. Minimum trip length: 3 nights. Minimum age is 14 by the time of arrival at base. Maximum group size 7 and minimum group size is 6. Participants will receive the OKPIK Musher Camp Award.

OKPIK DOGSLED TREK – A step up from the Musher Camp, the Dogsled Trek is intended for those who have some dog sledding 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 Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on morning and afternoon runs of up to 10 miles. Crews may also choose to add ice fishing and other winter activities to their trek. Minimum Trip Length: 3 nights (including one spent on base). Minimum age 14 by the time of arrival at base; maximum crew size is 7. Participants will receive the standard OKPIK Award and may purchase the Dog Trek Award if at least 2 nights are spent out on the ice.

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ADDITIONAL AWARDS AVAILABLE

In addition to our different camping programs, Northern Tier offers two unique patches and awards. The Zero Hero Patch is available to any participant who camps outside on a night where the temperature drops beneath 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The Bizhiw Patch is available to any participant who spends two nights out among the elements. Patches are available for purchase in the Northern Tier Trading Post.

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OTHER OKPIK OPPORTUNITIES

OKPIK COLD WEATHER LEADERSHIP TRAINING – Interested in leading your own winter camping trips? Our Cold Weather Leadership Training program combines an on-base seminar curriculum with a hands-on, on-ice training (including two nights on trail). This five-day course is a condensed version of the same curriculum we give to our Interpreters. It is fun, informative, and an excellent preparation for designing and leading your own troop and council level winter camping adventures. Minimum age of 16 by the time of arrival at base.

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STEP 2: HOW DO I MAKE MY RESERVATION AND PAY?

Once you choose a program, reserving your place in the OKPIK schedule is very easy. You will need to know the dates you would like to arrive and depart as well as the number of participants who will be attending. OKPIK is very flexible in accommodating the logistical and scheduling needs of any crew – trips are generally on the weekend, but they can be scheduled during the week as well.

Participants are grouped into crews. Each crew must have at least 6 and no more than 7 to 11 crew members including two adults. If your crew numbers more than 8 people, you will NOT be able to venture in the BWCAW .

If you navigate to the WHERE IS THIS GOING TO BE? “Trip Planning” tab page on our website, you can access both our ADD LINK ONCE NEW IS UP Trip Availability Chart and our Trip Registration Form. Alternatively, you can contact Northern Tier by phone (218.365.4811) and our Registrar will provide you the information you need.

If anyone in your trip has dietary restrictions or needs, please communicate this information by sending a "Dietary Restriction Card,” found in the OKPIK PARTICIPANT HANDBOOK, to us at least 45 days in advance of your trip. Northern Tier accommodates a wide variety of dietary issues if given advance notice.

2014-2015 OKPIK Winter Adventure Fees

OKPIK Programs - excluding dogs (6-8 participants)

$680.00 per crew, per night

OKPIK Programs - excluding dogs (9-11 participants)

$935.00 per crew, per night

OKPIK Dog Programs (6-7 participants)

$1,071.00 per crew, per night

Cold Weather Leader Training

$300 per person

PAYMENT SCHEDULE

2014-2015 Payment Schedule

3 weeks after reservation

$800.00 deposit per crew

May 15 OR three weeks after reservation (whichever is later)

Remainder of fees

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WHAT'S THE REFUND POLICY?

All deposits and crew payments are non-refundable and non-transferable. In advance of the season, Northern Tier commits financial resources to employ staff, purchase food and program supplies, and prepare for the winter operation. Consequently, participants are also expected to make a financial commitment to attend Northern Tier.

In rare & extenuating instances, we may determine that conditions do not allow us to present the OKPIK programs. In this instance, you will be notified and all fees will be refunded or transferred to future trips.

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WHAT EXPENSES ARE NOT COVERED BY NORTHERN TIER BASIC FEES?

FOOD: An evening meal is available for any crew arriving prior to 7:00pm. Northern Tier staff must know 2 weeks prior to your arrival that your crew(s) want to eat an evening meal at base. Crews that plan to arrive after 7:00pm should plan on eating dinner en route to the base. A list of restaurants in Ely can be found by going to www.ely.org.

FISHING: All participants who wish to Ice Fish during their OKPIK experience must possess a valid Minnesota fishing license. Fishing Licenses may be bought online in advance of your trip. This is the best way for you to purchase your license.
To purchase your fishing license online go to the MN DNR's website
Please refer to the Minnesota DNR website for all fishing regulations and rules

PATCHES: Program patches for Bizhiw, Zero Hero, Treks and Dog Trek can be purchased (if requirements are met) in the Trading Post.

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STEP 3: HOW DO I FULFILL ALL BSA POLICY REQUIREMENTS?

Northern Tier is a National High Adventure Base of the Boy Scouts of America. Consequently, every group that arrives on base for a trip must meet certain requirements. Below are listed the required pieces of paperwork that every crew must have with them upon arrival at base.

Please read carefully: If you do not bring the required paperwork, you will not be allowed on your trip.

TWO-DEEP LEADERSHIP - Every crew must have a minimum of two adult leaders, one of whom must be at least 21 years of age. Co-ed groups must have co-ed adult leadership over the age of 21.

BSA REGISTERED ADULTS AND YOUTH - At least one 21+ adult and all youth (Scouts and Venturers) must be registered members of the Boy Scouts of America. Apply for BSA registration through your local council.

HEALTH AND MEDICAL RECORDS - All participants, adult and youth, must bring a completed BSA "Health and Medical Record" signed by a medical doctor. OKPIK is a physically taxing program in a rugged area and participants must be fit enough to meet the challenge: participants are required to fall within the minimum and maximum height/weight requirement on the Health and Medical Record. Northern Tier strongly recommends that all participants fall within the recommended weight for their height for the reasons of safety and enjoyment of the programs. The maximum weight is the absolute maximum. THOSE FALLING ABOVE 295 POUNDS (250 POUNDS FOR DOG PROGRAMS) WILL ABSOLUTELY NOT BE PERMITTED TO PARTICIPATE. You do not want to fall above or below those requirements.

FIRST AID KIT: Each crew is responsible for bringing a complete First Aid Kit. Download our recommended First Aid Kit supplies.

TRAINED ADULT LEADERSHIP - All adults must have proof of BSA Youth Protection training. One adult per crew must have proof of Wilderness First Aid training (16-hour course minimum), CPR training and BSA Weather Hazards training. WOW crews may substitute First Aid Training for Wilderness First Aid Training.

BSA TOUR AND ACTIVITY PLAN - All groups arriving at Northern Tier must bring proof that they submitted a BSA Tour and Activity Plan. These permits are submitted online at www.myscouting.org. Please bring a copy of what you have submitted online to check in.

AGE REQUIREMENTS – Northern Tier expects crews to abide by the Age Requirements of their program. Youth participants should be put in programs that are appropriate for the physical abilities and maturity levels.

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STEP 4: HOW SHOULD WE PREPARE?

OKPIK makes winter camping easy and simple by providing crews almost everything they need. All food is pre-packed by your Interpreter and ready to go on arrival. All cooking gear – stoves, fuel, pots, utensil kit, etc. – await your inspection upon arrival. All the tools necessary for spending several nights in the elements are provided. In addition, almost all significant recreational equipment is available free of charge. Snowshoes, cross-country skis and basic ice fishing equipment are all stocked ready-for-use in our Bay Post.

OKPIK outfits participants who need it with almost all personal clothing. Cold-weather sleeping bags, sleeping pads, wind pants, wind jackets (anoraks), boots, water bottles and more are provided by OKPIK’s outfitting department. Participants must bring their own hats, long underwear, wool socks, summer rated sleeping bag, flashlight, bowl and spoon; participants are encouraged to bring their own fleece pants and shirt.

Finally, OKPIK provides an Interpreter to educate participants on how to winter camp in the most comfortable, safe, and fun manner. Almost everyone who arrives at OKPIK is new to winter camping; prior experience is not necessary.

However, better prepared scouts and advisors have more satisfying trips. While OKPIK provides most of the gear you might need, acquiring your own gear (which you can break in beforehand) may increase your comfort. OKPIK participants are strongly advised to arrive mentally prepared by reading the OKPIK PARTICIPANT HANDBOOK and the OKPIK COLD WEATHER CAMPING GUIDE, to give themselves a basic understanding of cold-weather camping practices before they arrive.

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WHAT SHOULD WE BRING?

OKPIK provides almost all of the gear required for a safe and satisfying winter camping adventure. However, each individual and each crew will need to bring some of their own personal gear. A printable gear check list is available here.

Group Gear:

All crews are required to bring their own First Aid Kit

Personal Gear:

Required:
• 2 Winter Hats (preferably fleece)*
• 2 pairs of synthetic long underwear (tops and bottoms; NO COTTON)*
• 2 pairs liner gloves*
• 2-3 pairs wool socks*
• 2-3 pairs liner socks*
• Sleeping bag*. If you have a cold weather sleeping bag, bring it. Otherwise, a summer or 3-season bag will be sufficient (we can outfit you with a cold weather bag
• Headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries (MUST HAVE – days are short in the winter)*
• Toiletry articles (toothbrush, toothpaste)*
• Cup, bowl and spoon* - NOT Metal
• Stuff sack* or small duffel bag for all personal gear
• Items for showering* (towel, soap, etc.) and clothes for the trip home
• Swim suit for wearing in the sauna
• Sunglasses* or Ski Goggles

The following items are available in limited quantities. You may feel more comfortable in your own:
• 2 pairs wool or fleece pants (Hard to fit XX-L & XXX-L – recommend bringing your own)
• 2 sweaters* – preferably wool or polar fleece – NO COTTON (Hard to fit XX-L & XXX-L – recommend bringing your own)

Recommended:
• Scarf or Neck Gaitor*
• Pocketknife/matches/bandana*
• Sunscreen and chapstick*

OKPIK provided, but feel free to bring your own:
• 2-3 pairs of mittens* (mittens are warmer than gloves)
• 1 winter jacket (Hard to fit XX-L & XXX-L – recommend bringing your own)
• 1 pair snow pants or rain pants (Hard to fit XX-L & XXX-L – recommend bringing your own)
• Skis and snowshoes
• Warm/winter boots (Sorels or Kamiks) with removable liners

*These items are available for purchase in the Trading Post.

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HOW DO WE PREPARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY?

Winter Camping requires a good deal of stamina. The cold temperatures drain energy, as the body spends more effort working to keep itself warm. While out on the ice, you can expect to expend far more calories than you normally would – 4,000 - 5,000 would be a good estimate!

Because of these factors, arriving at OKPIK in good physical condition will enhance the enjoyment of your trip. Try to exercise for thirty minutes three times a week for at least the month before you arrive at OKPIK. We recommend, in particular, high amounts of cardiovascular exercise. Pulling a sled, snowshoeing, skiing and dogsledding all require significant cardiovascular capacities. Run, swim and be active to prepare for your trip. It is also a good idea to do at least one overnight preparation trip before you attend OKPIK.

Winter camping is a fascinating and little studied branch of outdoor skills. We encourage you to study up on the various techniques and approaches to winter camping. Spending several days in the cold requires a methodical and meticulous approach to even the most mundane tasks. Begin your preparation by reading through the OKPIK COLD WEATHER CAMPING GUIDE. If you find that fascinating, continue your education through the books listed under suggested reading.

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WHAT ARE THE HEIGHT AND WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS?

The following table shows the recommended weights for each height, as well as the maximum weight for that height. Northern Tier strongly recommends that each participant not exceed the maximum weight on the table for their height. Northern Tier requires that you fall below the maximum (295 pounds 250 for dog sled programs) allowed weights for participation. Participants weighing less than 100 pounds will have a very difficult time and are discouraged from attending (not applicable to Cabin Stay and WOW).

PARTICIPANTS IN DOG SLED PROGRAMS MAY NOT EXCEED 250 POUNDS.

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STEP 5:HOW DO WE GET THERE TO START OUR ADVENTURE?

You are responsible for your own transportation to Northern Tier. OKPIK is based out of the Ely base, located 20 miles east of Ely, Minnesota. If you have questions about shuttle services, please consult our Transportation Info document.

A printable version of this map is available here.

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About Northern Tier

Come to Northern Tier for a whole new level of adventure, up north! From incredible canoe journeys to wild winter wilderness camping, Northern Tier promises the Scouting adventure of a lifetime in the Great North Woods of northern Minnesota and Canada.