Northern Tier – 2019

Northern Tier is the Boy Scouts of America’s gateway to adventure in the Great Northwoods. In the summer, Scouts from Northern Tier’s three wilderness canoe bases explore millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests and wetlands in Northern MinnesotaNorthwest Ontario and Northeast Manitoba. Northern Tier crews paddle in almost 6 million acres of exclusively canoe-access wilderness from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of Minnesota to the Atikaki Provincial Park of Manitoba. Trips range in length from 6-14 days and usually include between 50-150 miles of wilderness travel.

Ely, MN – Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base

The flagship base of Northern Tier, the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base has hosted Boy Scout canoe expeditions on the shores of Moose Lake since 1941. Located twenty miles outside of the town of Ely, MN, the Sommers Base outfits over 4,000 Scouts each year on wilderness canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota and the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. Trips out of the Sommers base are limited to 8 total participants plus an Interpreter.

Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base is also home to several unique individual scout programs: the Order of the Arrow’s Wilderness Voyage; Forest Corps, a coeducational environmental leadership program; and Lone Voyageur, a program that allows for individual scouts and smaller troops to take out a Northern Tier trip.

Aside from summer adventures, The Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base hosts the Okpik Cold Weather Camping Program, the premier winter camping program in the Boy Scouts of America. The Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base is the site of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Cold Weather Camping Development Center. Okpik Cold Weather Camping, Northern Tier’s winter offering, is the BSA’s premier winter camping program. At Okpik, Scouts experience a true Northwoods winter: learning how to thrive in subzero temperatures, travel across frozen wilderness lakes and construct their own sleeping structures out of snow. Four types of Okpik experiences are currently offered: Cabin Stays, Okpik Weekend Samplers, Okpik Treks, and Dogsled Trips

We are a Cooperator with the USDA Forest Service under the Superior National Forest. We issue permits into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. As a Cooperator with the Forest Service, we are an equal opportunity service-provider.

Atikokan, ON – Donald Rogert Canoe Base

Located an 80-mile paddle North of the Sommers base, the Donald Rogert (“Atikokan”) Canoe Base outfits 1500 scouts each year for expeditions into the Northern regions of the Quetico Provincial Park as well as into the Canadian Crown Lands, including the Turtle River – White Otter Lake Provincial Park. The Quetico is a gorgeous and pure wilderness, with traces of human travel; the Crown Lands region features the remains of a used wilderness – trappers cabins, age-old gold mines and even the remains of a World War II Prisoner of War camp can be found amidst the beautiful wilds of the Canadian Shield (a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil). Crew sizes may be up to 11 participants plus an Interpreter if travelling in the Crown Land and 8 participants plus an interpreter if traveling in the Quetico.


Documents: (Click the name to download any of the desired information)

  1. Participants Guide
  2. Parent Release form
  3. International Travel Information
  4. Adults Guide
  5. Camper’s Application
  6. Swim Classification Form
  7. Ely Transportation Information
  8. Packing List
  9. RABC (Remote Area Boarder Crossing) Permit


NORTHERN TIER PLANNING: What to expect.

18 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRIP (DECEMBER-MARCH):
• Start planning your trip prior to this date so that you
can make a reservation as soon as possible.
• You will then need to collect a deposit from these individuals to secure your spot.
• Arrange to complete your required Adult Leader Trainings and Certifications.

14 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRIP (APRIL – AUGUST):
Start training for your Northern Tier Expedition – make sure that the other members of your crew are training as well. Training should include:
• Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes 5 days each week
• Develop basic camping skills: cooking, building fires, pitching a tent and hanging a bear bag.
• Canoeing and Backpacking: learn the J-Stroke, carry a 50-lb Pack, and portage a Canoe.
• Begin arranging your travel to and from Northern Tier: flights, ground transportation to and from the base and any lodging while traveling. More information on travel options can be found in this document or at www.ntier.org/TripPlanning.

9 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRIP (SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER):
• Collect funds for your first payment. This payment is due October 1. Make sure to update Northern Tier of any changes to your number of crews, and your participation numbers prior to October 1st.
• Make sure your crew sets up Doctor Appointments to update their BSA Health and Medical Records. These Records must be current within a year of your trip. Make sure all members of your crew meet the physical requirements to participate in a Northern Tier trip, including the Height and Weight Requirements found in Appendix D.
• Northern Tier sends information on the different types of parks and routes to paddle through in the fall. Use this information to fill out your Permit Application. The Permit Application is due on December 1.
• Begin reviewing the personal equipment list with your crew.
Complete campership applications. Campership applications are due by January 31st

6 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRIP (JANUARY AND FEBRUARY):
• Crews traveling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park should expect reservation confirmation e-mails in January, February and March. If you have not received your reservation confirmation by February, please contact the Northern Tier Registrar.
• Campership applications are due by January 31st
• Ely Quetico Crews submit your RABC applications to Canadian Border Service Agency.
Check Passport Expiration and/or apply for Passports if traveling in Canada.

3 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRIP (MARCH – JUNE):
• Keep your eyes peeled for a Spring Mailing Package in your mailbox. Please review materials with your crew members.
• Final Payments are due in the Spring:
• For Crews arriving in June, the Final Payment is due March 1
• For Crews arriving in July, the Final Payment is due April 1
• For Crews arriving in August, the Final Payment due May 1
• Double check that all of your check in paperwork is together (see appendix B).
• Complete and Submit your Crew Roster.
• Double Check that all Certifications (WFA, CPR and BSA E-Certifications) are complete

1 MONTH PRIOR TO TRIP
• Double Check that all participants have current BSA Health and Medical Records
• Make sure that you have a completed BSA Swim Test for all participants (See appendix F)
• Pack a full and thorough First Aid Kit to take with you on your trek. (See appendix H)
• Finalize all Transportation Plans. If you have any questions, please contact Northern Tier!
• Notify Northern Tier of any special diet needs by filling out the form located at: http://www.ntier.org/Food.

o Please keep in mind that while we try to be as accommodating as possible, we will not be able to accommodate all food needs and may ask participants with certain needs to supplement the menu with their own food.