Since 1923, Boy Scouts have been making the trek to Northern Minnesota and Southern Canada to explore the millions of acres of lakes, rivers, forests and wetlands that make up the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Northern Tier National High Adventure program. From one of three bases, scouts explore 6 million acres of canoe-access-only wilderness from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of Minnesota to the Atikaki Provincial Park of Manitoba.
A contingent of nine Boy Scouts and six adults from local BSA Troop 9, chartered by First United Methodist Church of Humble, traveled to the canoe base in Atikokan, Ontario, in August for a week of high adventure. The crew flew from Houston to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where they spent the night at Fort Williams Historical Park before continuing on to Atikokan.
After arriving at Northern Tier, the Troop was broken up into two groups before heading into Quetico Provincial Parks, where they paddled 65 miles over the next five days, stopping at different camp sites each night. Troop 9 Scoutmaster Tony Krause said, “Quetico has a rule that no more than nine people and three canoes are allowed at each campsite. They limit the impact on the park in order to keep it as pristine as possible.”
Krause said they needed to pack light, as all of their food had to be carried in watertight containers inside the canoes. Meals consisted mainly of dehydrated foods, energy bars and other snacks. The group also caught lots of fish at every camp site, including small mouth bass, northern pike and walleye.
“At least every Scout caught fish and some even cleaned them,” said Krause.
Much of each day on the adventure was filled with canoeing, portaging canoes and a bit of swimming. Krause said the daily canoeing required a lot of teamwork and adults and Scouts would rotate to a different canoe position (front, middle and back) each day.
A veteran of Scouting, Krause, who joined his two sons on this trip, said the Northern Tier adventure was likely his favorite Scouting experience of all time.
“Any outdoor adventure with your sons is an outstanding experience. When that setting is in the solitude and pristine nature of the Quetico, it enhances that experience one-hundred fold,” said Krause.
He also noted a trip to Northern Tier is not without challenges and was a demanding experience.
“It will test your physical and mental strength. As a Scoutmaster, you are proud of your Scouts and how they deal with the adversity of those challenges. They grow strong right before your eyes. They create a bond with the Scouts in their crew and the laughter can be heard from across the lake. The evening campfires where we shared our roses, thorns and buds was a great way to end the evening,” said Krause.
The highlight, though, for Krause was “watching the Scouts see the wilderness more quiet and pristine than anything they've ever seen before.” Troop 9 Scout James Mills agreed: “The further we canoed, and the more isolated we were, the more beautiful and pristine the scenery was. We felt very close to nature.”
Troop 9 Scouts visited Northern Tier in August. From left are: Ian Krause, Thomas Salazar, Nic Sobey, Stefan Krause, Matthew Wilding, Sebastian Weikel, James Mills, Alex Rodriguez and Travis Campbell.