Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What it's like to work at the largest canoe base in the world

Northern Tier employs hundreds of staff every year. Staff members come from all over the world and bring with them unique skills and talents. Northern Tier's diverse and qualified staff works as a team and annually delivers the wilderness experience of a lifetime to thousands of youth and adults.

“My time on staff was incredibly rewarding.
I will never forget it."


“I learned more about outdoor leadership this summer at Northern Tier than I ever could have learned in a classroom.”  The incredible part about joining the staff at Northern Tier is attaining valuable life experience at an early age.  Aside from the hard skills, like emergency response and first aid, there are many personal and soft skills staff learn while on the job, including time and people management. 

“As a Northern Tier staff member, I have the distinguished honor and privilege to create in others a defining moment that will live in them forever.”  A Northern Tier staff member is committed to providing exceptional and consistent quality in everything they do.  If this describes you, consider applying today!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

From a Scoutmaster - The Value of Northern Tier

Northern Tier’s Ely Trail Staff Director received this letter from a Scoutmaster a few weeks ago. The letter is a true testimonial to the benefit of having a Northern Tier Interpreter and the value of a Northern Tier trek. We could go on, but we’re going to let the letter speak to the Northern Tier experience.

Good afternoon Don;

I wanted to provide some feedback on our troop's Northern Tier experience.  First let me say I am the Scoutmaster for Troop 125 in Rochester Michigan and have been so for the past several years.

As far as anyone knows in our troop we have not been to Northern Tier in over 20 years and we had not been on a high adventure canoe trip in 10 years.  I started campaigning for a canoe trek when my son joined in 2009 and I was an Assistant Scoutmaster. There was quite a bit of pushback in going to Northern Tier for several reasons. First and foremost was that it was "too far" (800 mile drive). Second reason was that it was "too expensive" ($700). And the third reason "three to a canoe". None of the reasons seem in the least reasonable.

I became the scoutmaster several years ago and have pushed hard for our troop to utilize all the BSA high adventure bases. I have pushed for this because I believe the programs offered are both highly focused on Scouting and an outstanding experience for our young men.

This year's trek to Northern Tier I believe paid off in spades. We fielded two (2) full Crews and our Scouts had a blast. And it wasn't just the great Minnesota sunsets, the glasslike lakes, or the call of loons.

Much of it had to do with the Interpreters that Northern Tier provided. These young men were able to connect with our Scouts on multiple levels. They have the experience, patience, willingness, and most important the interest in passing on skills and leadership to the Crew members.

As we did have two crews and I could only go on one, [when] I returned I spent extra time talking to the other crew members. And just like ours they had a phenomenal time. And again not just because they were able to see eagles, loons, and gorgeous sunsets. The entire trip home consisted of discussions of what they saw what they did and how "tough" the various segments of the trip were and who caught the biggest fish.

Also, our base camp experience was equal to the on water experience. Everything that occurred from the time of arrival to our departure was well orchestrated and choreographed to maximize our enjoyment. The discussions, the training, the preparations, and guidance that we received before stepping off was focused and purposeful. Our Scouts had the opportunity to learn several skills quickly which made our trek easier and more enjoyable. And I can speak specifically for Travis' ability and understanding of the process because he got us through both departure and return quickly and efficiently. And did a phenomenal job while we're on the water.

As well, the capstone Voyager campfire was an unbelievable success. Both Scouts and Scouter's in both of our crews truly enjoyed the experience. As a note on how impressed and excited our Scouts were with Northern Tier, and how much our Scouts enjoyed the trip, several talked about coming back as Interpreters after they turned 18. I think if they were closer to 18 you may have had several applications before we left.

While I'm sure we could have found something cheaper, I strongly doubt we could have found something better. I believe the value in the program is because it's designed specifically for Scouts. The Northern Tier Interpreters are focused on teaching Scouts canoecraft, woodcraft and leadership skills which is not something available from the other outfitters.

In closing I would like to say that Northern Tier provided a lifelong memory for Scouts which was the equivalent if not better than Philmont. I applaud you and would like to sincerely thank everyone working at Northern Tier who make this an unbelievable Scouting adventure.

Yours in Scouting
Bill Berklich
Rochester, MI

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, email or call 218.365.4811.

See you Up North!