Tuesday, March 25, 2014

OKPIK Cold Weather Camping Program
An Epic Winter Adventure

Northern Tier is the home to the Boy Scouts of America’s Cold Weather Camping Development Center and the Premier Cold Weather Camping Program known as OKPIK.

Every winter, hundreds of Scouts head to the North Woods of Minnesota to experience the highest of high adventures.  Trips begin by meeting your “Interpreter” who is a trained Northern Tier staff member that will help you learn everything you need to know to have a tremendous experience in subzero temperatures.  Northern Tier provides full outfitting for your trek including most winter clothing items. 

After you are fully outfitted you will spend your first night in a heated rustic cabin. In the morning, after a filling breakfast, you will head out to explore the wonders of a winter wilderness. You’ll have the opportunity to build snow shelters, ice fish, snowshoe/cross-country ski and learn about life in the cold while exploring frozen pristine wilderness lakes and forests. See the clear night sky, listen to the wolves howl and hear the ice groan while toughing through the winter elements through centuries old techniques and knowledge.

"I love the snow! For me, traveling through winter environments was the best part of the day. Then, after getting to our campsite for the night, we built a quinzee. Outside, it got to probably -25 degrees, whereas inside the quinzee, it was probably 25 or 30 degrees. That's probably the best sleep I've had on a campout in a long time. Sleeping in something that I built was probably the best part of the experience."

        ~Past OKPIK Participant

OKPIK is known as the best winter adventure the BSA offers.  Come to OKPIK and experience “Wilderness Adventures that Last a Lifetime!”


Saturday, March 1, 2014

From a Cold Weather Leader Training Participant

Early January [2014] I had the remarkable opportunity to attend Cold Weather Leader Training at the Northern Tier High Adventure Base located in Ely, Minnesota. The training included in-depth instruction in how the human body reacts to cold, how to dress, what to eat, winter transportation, winter shelters, cold weather health hazards and how to treat them, snow shoeing, dog sledding and more.

My personal experience was one of the most memorable I’ve had for training and adventure at any BSA camp. Due to a severe winter storm which centered over New York metro area, all flights were canceled and airports closed on precisely the day I was scheduled to leave. The jet stream that was forcing arctic weather and temperatures south from Canada and over the northeastern US meant that Ely was predicted to experience unusually cold temperatures as well. It was an air travel mess, and this caused me to arrive a day late for my training at Ely, Minnesota.

Doug Best decked out in
Northern Tier gear.
One of the most disturbing things to happen was that I arrived to the training and my baggage didn’t. In hind sight this was a blessing. This meant that all I had was what was in my day pack. With out my personal gear, sleeping bags, clothing layers, extreme cold weather boots, toiletries and other items, I was preparing to venture out overnight into some of the most extreme temperatures recorded in Ely at that time of year. This circumstance was entirely unexpected and unplanned. The Northern Tier staff was suddenly and without warning, burdened with the task of satisfying all my cold weather needs for the outdoor segment of the training. Together with their supreme knowledge and ability to outfit me for the frigid environment of Northern Tier, I successfully accomplished temperatures that dropped to a bone chilling -34.4 ºF. The following day the wind chill made it feel like -67 ºF. By staying active and observing what I was taught my personal experience fluctuated from feeling cool, warm, to sometimes over heating and having to “vent.” I experienced personally how the science of staying warm in the cold really works.

I am completely impressed with Northern Tier and the staff there. It is rare that I have encountered such friendly and accommodating staff at training. Their knowledge and experience is easily among the best the BSA has. Without exception they are easily some of the most friendly, accessible, wise, experienced and fun teams that I have had. I have never experienced temperatures like these before, and I was completely unprepared. Northern Tier knew what was necessary and without hesitation came through and enabled me to experience these extremes safely and without incident.

Thank you Northern Tier!

I am looking forward to returning soon. (Hopefully with my luggage)

Douglas Best
ASM Troop 240
Council High Adventure Training Chair

Theodore Roosevelt Council, Long Island NY

The 2014 CWLT Course and Staff

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Forest Corps Program Enters Second Season! Sign up today!

Forest Corps participants bravely join their two fearless Instructors venturing out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), embracing both the trials and triumphs of the trail. While enjoying a canoe trip in the Wilderness, participants challenges themselves mentally and physically by helping the US Forest Service perform vital trail and campsite repair and attending educational sessions to learn about the ecology of the area.

Designed to teach young adults about important concepts of responsible land management, practical conservation skills, and the ethics of Leave No Trace, the Forest Corps program is an amazing co-educational offering Northern Tier provides for Scouts and Venturers ages 14 to 21. While focusing on environmental education components, leadership principles are infused throughout the program to aid the students in becoming young outdoor leaders. Specifically targeted to Venturers, the elements of this program allow for scouts to complete various components of their Ranger Award while on the trip.
With the education and guidance of their leaders, the students are placed in a unique learning environment where they are free to discover and make connections about how their actions can impact the greater world. Through the medium of experiential education, students are able to grasp the notion that wilderness areas, like the BWCAW, would not exist if their generation did not care about protecting and managing these beautiful, natural places. One of the aims for the Forest Corps program is to create land stewards who have a positive connection with the land around them. The program teaches scouts to develop a passion for conservation and advocate for the protection of natural places so these spectacular recreation areas exist for the enjoyment of generations to come.

Why participate? This program is an incredible opportunity to learn about interesting topics such as forest fire ecology, geology, natural history, ecosystems and low impact wilderness travel in a fun and non-traditional way - through experiences outside in nature! You get to work and play outside for two weeks - rain or shine - working alongside some of the coolest people you will ever meet. You also will gain practical conservation and land management skills while working with the US Forest Service.

Why send your Scout/Venturer? Two trained, highly knowledgeable outdoor professionals will instruct participants on the different elements of the trip and train them in the proper handling and use of conservation tool. In addition to environmental education, both instructors have training in wilderness medicine, Leave No Trace and group management skills. These certifications are industry standards and provide instructors with the proper guidelines for effectively leading and developing the potential in participants.

This two week co-educational experience has the capacity to educate today’s youth about important environmental concepts and inspires the confidence to become an effective leader- not only in the outdoors but in every aspect of their life. Participants are encouraged to take what they learn home and educate their communities at about these important environmental concerns explored during their time serving and playing in the BWCAW. The elements of this program hope to inspire corps members to freely learn about their relationships with ecosystems, and what they can do to protect them. The Forest Corps program will most definitely deliver a wilderness experience that lasts a lifetime!

For more information visit www.ntier.org, email info@ntier.org or call 218.365.4811.

See you Up North!