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Northern Tier

 Northern Tier is Scouting's getaway to adventure in the Great North.  From Northern Tier's three bases, Scouts can explore millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests, and wetlands in northern Minnesota and Canada.  Whatever your plans, Northern Tier staff can outfit your crew with state-of-the-art equipment and knowledgeable interpreters.

In the summer and fall, Scouts head to Northern Tier for canoeing, hiking, exploring, and some of the best freshwater fishing anywhere. Northern Tier is the only official BSA outfitter in the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area WildernessExternal Link and or in Canada.

In the winter, Northern Tier is home to Okpik, Scouting’s cold-weather camping program, with dogsledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow shelter building, animal tracking, cold-weather cooking, and ice fishing.


North America’s Canoe Country, a vast series of navigable lakes and rivers spanning thousands of square miles, is one of the last great wildernesses on the continent. This boreal forest of waterfalls and bogs, bears and wolves, granite crags and waist-deep mud remains nearly as much of a wilderness as it was for the first fur traders who explored the area in the 1600s. Two centuries after the fur trade’s peak in the early 1800s, our participants still follow in the footsteps of the French-Canadian voyageurs, paddling the same waters and straining over the same portage trails.

Northern Tier is historic in its own right: our own Charles L. Sommers base, located near Ely, MN, is the oldest national high-adventure base operated by the Boy Scouts of America.

Age/Participation Requirements

Are you ready? To participate in a Northern Tier high-adventure base program, you must be 13 by the year you attend, a registered Scout, and classified as a swimmer. You also must be in good shape for the trek.

Click HERE for more details.

Crew Size

Most canoeing crews consist of six to eight people, and may not be larger than nine people, including your interpreter. (Larger crews—up to 12, including your interpreter—are allowed at certain parks that our Canadian bases serve)

Length of Stays

Most crews spend six to 10 days canoeing the boundary waters. Standard trek schedules include an arrival and outfitting day, then several days out in the boundary waters before returning to the originating base for an overnight before the trip home.

Scheduled Okpik program lengths include:

  • Weekend
  • Long Weekend
  • Midweek
  • Holiday stay—a longer stay between Christmas and New Year’s
  • Plan-your-own options are available, too.

CostsExternal Link

Northern Tier prides itself in offering all-inclusive gear/equipment, food, and program packages for its crews. For canoe trips, costs average $54 to $59 per person per day. Most Okpik cold-weather camping programs run about $62 per person per day, which includes all your gear. For details, click hereExternal Link.

Learn more about each base:

Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe BaseExternal Link

Ely, Minnesota
Our flagship base in Ely, Minnesota, is home to the Okpik winter camping program and is our largest base for wilderness canoeing. In the summers, crews paddle deep into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area WildernessExternal Link and the Quetico Provincial ParkExternal Link.

Don Rogert Canoe BaseExternal Link

Atikokan, Ontario
Called the “Canoe Capital of Canada,” this base serves as the launching point for exploring Quetico Provincial ParkExternal Link and the White Otter – Turtle River Provincial Park. It also features great fishing and kayaking programs.

Northern Expeditions Canoe BaseExternal Link

Bissett, Manitoba
Unofficially regarded as the “Most Extreme High Adventure in Scouting,” the Northern Expeditions base is the most rugged and remote region paddled by Northern Tier. A float plane drops crews off at our wilderness canoe cache in the heart of the combined two million acre Atikaki Provincial Park and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, an area visited by only a handful of canoeists every year.

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