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Ford0273

Looking for BWCAW outfitter recommendations

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Some of our Troop are going to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness next summer. Right now, we know we are going to the Ely area and that is it. I am looking for any recommendations on outfitters in the area. Also if there are any that need to be stayed away from. I would like to hear from those who have used the services of outfitters verses Northern Tier. We are traveling from Littleton, Co. (SW Denver), and want to make the most of our first trip to the BW and Canada. I have been on bwca.com and requested info already, so I know the logistics of the trip, just trying to narrow down the choices. Thanks in advance.

TJ

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Ford,

 

Im glad you asked I have neglected to submit a trip report from our trip with North Country Canoe Outfitters (http://www.boundarywaters.com) this summer. John & Kathy Schiefelbein run an outstanding operation which is very Scout-friendly. John is a former scout/scout leader and has been in this business for 25 yrs. I have led two trips with 2 crews each over the last few years. Several of our sister troops and my brothers troop have gone with them. Everyone has been very happy. My oldest son, who has wanted to go back since his first trip, put together a trip with a bunch of his buddies after they graduated from college this summer, too.

 

They excel at providing personal service. John sits down with every crew to tailor a trip to meet their personal desires and priorities (fishing, miles, sightseeing, privacy, etc.). I would call them a medium-sized operation: large enough to provide options and experience, yet small enough that you dont feel rushed in a crowd of folks all trying to check in at once.

 

I have been through BSA/Northern Tier and probably would have continued going with them, but couldnt get the reservations we wanted a few years ago. Several posters on this forum recommended NCCO to me, so I gave them a call, liked what I heard, and signed up on faith. It was one of the best moves Ive made as a scout leader. I also recognize its not for everyone. With private outfitter, theres no cheap option to include a guide/interpreter in your crew. My guys are some pretty hard-core campers who would be insulted to have a staff member taking one of their buddys slots for the entire trip. (Crew size limited to 9 in Canada.) Its exhilarating to push off on your own into the wilderness for 10 days with nothing but your equipment, skills and smarts to get you through the trip. (My guys dont know I have a rented satellite phone for emergencies.)

 

On our trek this summer we had one crew of horses big guys all 17 and 18 yrs old who pressed into a remote area north-west of Lake Agnes to find great fishing and solitude. They covered about 100 miles and had plenty of time for sightseeing and fishing. Our younger crew (mostly 13 & 14) used more layover days to reduce work required to portage and covered about 50 miles on day trips closer to the border. Frankly, I was concerned about how the younger crew would do, but have seen scout groups younger than them in the back-country. Those guys did great and cant wait to get back in a couple of years to press further into the bush.

 

Send me a PM if youd like more detailed information.

 

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I will echo 100% what Mike F. reported about North Country Canoe Outfitters. In fact, I was one of the people who recommended Mike check out NCCO a few years ago. I returned this summer after our 7th trip to NCCO and as usual, John and his staff were wonderful, very professional and accomodating. We had two crews and both had outstanding trips. It is nice to head into the wilderness completely on your own. Ford, if you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

 

Dale

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We had good luck with Way of the Wilderness (wayofthewilderness.com) . They will provide as much (complete outfit including food, tents etc) or as little (just canoes) as you desire. if they have openings, they have let us use their lodge for free on the first and last days.

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Northern Tier has a strong background in delivering programs to Scouting units. It is actually the oldest BSA National High Adventure program, older than Philmont. Noticed I used the term "program" and not "outfitter". Northern Tier delivers a program to the youth participants before, during, and after their voyage experience. Part of their method is providing a trained staff member during the trip called an "Interpreter" who will mentor your Scouts on the skills they will use and deliver the Scouting program.

 

Philmont Scout Ranch, like Northern Tier is a program. Instead of going to Philmont you could go backpacking next door to the ranch in Carson National Forest. However, why would you do this? It's because you go to Philmont for the program!

 

Also remember Northern Tier has three bases offering more options and degrees of remoteness: Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base (Ely, Minnesota) for the Boundary Waters and Southern part of Quetico; Donald Rogert Canoe Base (Atikokan, Ontario) for Northern part of Quetico and the Crown Lands; Northern Expeditions (Bissett, Manitoba) for Atikaki Park.

 

If you have Scouts who have already gone to Philmont and Sea Base they can also receive the "Triple Crown Award" after their Northern Tier voyage. http://www.holry.org/triplecrownaward.php'>http://www.holry.org/triplecrownaward.php

 

Be sure check out Northern Tier's alumni association Website and their "Essays & Articles" page at http://www.holry.org/

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