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Boundary Waters Comercial Outfitter Reccomendations

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Mike R,


A couple more thoughts:


- I agree with comment made by Mafaking. It is an awesome feeling to be pushing off on your own - just your guys and their skills - without a staff member. For one thing, the staff member takes up one of your 9 spots. And he/she changes the dynamics of your crew. If your crew is not up to the challenge, this is a necessary evil, but it sounds like you guys are ready. If you want to hike at Philmont, you must go through BSA. We launched our canoes about 50' from BSA property and were immediately in the exact same program area. (Don't tell my guys, but we won't really be without a safety net -- we rent satellite phones.) As for missing some of the sights without a guide, sure you'll miss some. Think of it as the difference between backpacking across Europe with a friend, versus one of those tour buses. Your outfitter can help plan your route and mark up your maps with sites to see.


- Patches and stuff. The afternoon we got of the water, we drove over and shopped at the BSA trading post. Guys bought their mini paddles and belts. We selected one of the patches for sale, bought a stack, and presented them later. As for the "Triple Crown" patch, many of my crew this summer would be eligible if we used BSA, but they are more interested in the memories which will last forever and satisfaction of knowing they were able to enjoy the best Scouting had to offer in their trekking days of youth. I know NCCO provides a crew photo to treasure and I'll bet they all do.

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Mike F.


I'm inclined to agree with you and that is why I initially mentioned I'd ruled out NT. I would think having a staff guide along would change the dynamics and the boys would feel more like guests than adventurers. But an awful lot of folks swear by NT. And although my personal contacts are running about 4 to 1 against NT, the reasons are the quality of the Interpreter or, less often, the quality of the equipment. No one has yet complained they'd made a mistake by going 3 to a canoe (though I can't imagine doing that) or by having gone out with a competent Interpreter.


One more thing. In my short time as an adult leader I have found, quite often begrudgingly, that the Boy Scout way is most always the best way. So when my initial reaction is "no way!", I try to step back and get an objective perspective of the big picture. That's kinda what I'm doing here. Just making sure by biases and preconceived notions aren't clouding my view. The input from all of you has helped a lot.



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Personally, I would not relate an Interpreter to a regular guide and by no means a tour guide of the BWCAW. As Mike F. related them to tour guides or buses in Europe.


On the trips I have been on at Northern tier, the interpreter was there more as a role model. The Interpreter was able to challenge the scouts in a different way than I can as an adult leader who already has a history with the scouts on the trip. I see the whole reason for using Northern tier is to give the scouts this different, positive interactions with adults in their 20s. Of the scouts in my troop, I know that they don't normally have interactions with college age adults.


As for "the best Scouting had to offer" wouldn't that be going through a National High Adventure Base ... ;)


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We have used Clif Wolds outfitters out of Ely for over 20 years and have had a great trip each time.


A note on the Triple Crown, Ookpik also counts as one of the three high adventures needed. The troop had 3 young gentlemen earn this award with Philmont, Sea Base, and Ookpik.


You seem to be at a point where you are transistioning from boy led to scout led. That is a marvelous thing, just have to learn how to go with the flow and make sure they do not burn the forest down.





red feather


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Hi Mike,


Congratulations on deciding to take your Troop on a wilderness canoe trip. That, by itself, is a credit to you and your leadership. Scouting needs more leaders like you.


I wouldn't have responded unless you had opened it up to comments on Northern Tier. If you've researched this site, you will have found a couple lengthy, very positive posts by me about NT. I stand by those comments now for all the reasons I mentioned. If you haven't found them yet, simply scroll down the high adventure page until you see a thread about NT.


I'll say it this way - you don't have to go to Philmont to get your Scouts a backpacking experience, and you don't have to outfit through Northern Tier to get a canoeing experience. However, by doing so, you're doing things the Scouting way with an outfitter run by the BSA.


And yes, you and your Scouts earn the trek completion patches that you don't get going on your own or through a private outfitter.


NT is a good program run by good people and I strongly recommend them.


NOTE: I'm a volunteer Scouter like most of you are and I have no vested interest in the base itself. However, I've lead crews through NT and sent crews to NT as part of our council contingents.

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