Boundary Waters Canoeing

Boundary Waters Canoeing for Teens

More than just a camping trip, this 8 to 22-day canoeing expedition takes you into the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, Minnesota – and incorporates a challenging high ropes course and a reflective solo experience.
On this Outward Bound expedition, do more than learn to paddle. Learn how to explore and even live comfortably in one of the most beautiful, remote environments on the planet. Learn to take calculated risks, practice critical thinking skills and develop self-reliance. Discover how appreciating the diversity of your group is a transferable skill to be applied upon your return home. Together with your instructors and crew, learn how to care for one another, work together—and accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

The Boundary Waters courses have low student/staff ratios, seven or fewer students with two instructors allowing for more individualized attention and focus.

Course Area

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Over 10,000 years ago, continental-sized glaciers scraped their way across much of Ontario and northern Minnesota leaving deep ruts, ravines, and holes in their tracks. Eventually, as the glaciers melted, these ravines filled with water, creating a seemingly endless interconnected web of lakes and rivers.

In 1964, the United States designated over 1-million acres of this Northern Minnesota landscape as a protected wilderness area called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Because no roads, power lines, or motorized craft may enter its borders, the BWCAW has remained relatively unchanged since the glaciers receded. The BWCAW extends nearly 150 miles along the Canadian border and encompasses more than 1,000 lakes and rivers. Over 1,200 miles of navigable routes lead to over 2,200 campsites and provide an unparalleled opportunity to travel by canoe and dogsled.

In the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more difficult, winter enthusiasts travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful, and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers, and powerful silence.

Classic Courses
No two Outward Bound expeditions are ever quite the same. Every crew is unique; every route is distinct; and every adventure is dynamic. But one thing remains the same. On each course, students rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places – and find strength and determination along the way.

  • Build core skills: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork and leadership skills. Form a crew that supports and encourages one another, and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Learn to incorporate Outward Bound values into everyday life by pushing your own limits and seeking challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Work together to apply new skills and achieve team goals during this final phase of the expedition.
  • What you’ll learn: Return home a stronger, more resilient individual. Discover increased self-confidence, improved leadership, and a desire to make a difference.


Listed below are a few of the activities:

Canoeing

As part of your course, you will complete an extended canoe expedition that is entirely self-supported. This expedition includes learning the art of paddling a canoe in a variety of conditions as well as portaging, map and compass reading, route finding, expedition planning, and Leave No Trace® wilderness living principles. Paddling partners work together to navigate a variety of waterways such as lakes, rivers, and swamps.

Portaging

Groups work as a team to carry packs and canoes over portage trails when transitioning from one lake to another or around challenging rapids. Portage trails are rugged and often rocky or hilly. They vary in length from 10 yards to a mile or longer. Pack weights vary depending on the length of the trip. Personal packs weigh at least 40 pounds and sometimes considerably more; food and equipment packs usually weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. Each 75-pound canoe is carried upside down on one person’s shoulders by utilizing the pads attached to the center thwart.

Rock Climbing

Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, they are sure to find something that will engage them and encourage the expansion of their comfort zone.

Students learn about general rock-climbing equipment, safety, and etiquette before learning how to belay. Rock climbing provides ample opportunities to climb, belay, and rappel over the edge while safely descending to the base of majestic rock.

Whitewater Kayaking

On the 22 day course students are introduced to the thrill of whitewater paddling. A half day of whitewater kayaking adds to the excitement and breadth of your experience. You will learn how to “read” water and trust yourself to make split-second decisions in order to determine the best routes through the rushing waves.

Solo

Weather and time permitting, an Outward Bound Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. The duration of Solo depends on the course length and type as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. Students on a 3-week course typically spend 2-nights on Solo while students on a 1-week course may spend one night or even just a few hours on Solo.

Regardless of Solo length, all students receive sufficient food, water, and shelter to keep them safe and healthy during Solo. Instructors choose Solo sites to offer as much solitude as possible while retaining some proximity to the whole group. While students spend the majority of their Solo time alone, Instructors do check on each student as often as needed, usually 1-4 times per day, to ensure that each student feels safe and comfortable. Instructors work with each student individually to structure a successful, unique Solo experience that meets their specific needs. Solo is purposefully scheduled near the end of the expedition so students have plenty of time to acclimate to their new environments beforehand.

Students often have mixed feelings leading up to Solo. Inevitably, students feel some nervousness and hesitation but are also excited to rest, reflect and test their new skills after spending many days in the wilderness. Students often find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and Solo often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.

Some Outward Bound Family expeditions offer Duo experiences, rather than Solos, to allow parents and children to have a shared experience and deepen their relationships.

Personal Challenge Event

Time and weather permitting, Voyageur Outward Bound School courses end with a Personal Challenge Event (PCE), a final individual physical push. In the summer, the PCE usually includes a triathlon-style paddle, portage, and run.

The PCE is non-competitive. Each student sets his/her own time goal for completion and works toward it to see how their mental and physical stamina has grown as a result of their wilderness expedition. Students celebrate the completion of their wilderness expedition and PCE with a final banquet and graduation ceremony at the basecamp.

Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.


Visit the Voyageur Outward Bound School frequently asked questions page to learn more about the application process, scholarships, what to expect, how to pack and where your course begins.

Upon enrollment on a Voyageur Outward Bound School course students receive a day-by-day course itinerary, detailed packing list, and detailed arrival and departure information specific to their course.

Scholarship Info

Our Scholarship Program is guided by a single principle: Every person should be given the opportunity to experience adventure and challenge, develop character and compassion, and learn leadership skills and service ethics, regardless of financial ability.

Moreover, we bring together diverse groups of students to instill cultural understanding and teamwork skills that enable them to become principled leaders.

Thanks to generous donations from alumni, parents, corporations, foundations, and others, Outward Bound awards up to $3.7 million in scholarships to 6,000 students each year.

The Voyageur Outward Bound School scholarship program is need-based and in order to be considered, applicants must first enroll on a course, pay a $500 deposit and check a box noting that they are interested in a Scholarship. The deposit payment is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 enrollment processing fee (usually non-refundable). After the applicant enrolls, a Course Advisor will send them a Scholarship Application along with the other enrollment materials. The applicant is required to submit a copy of their most recent 1040 tax return along with the completed Scholarship Application. The average scholarship is 15-30% off of the posted fee. If the applicant receives an Outward Bound scholarship but it’s not enough for them to participate, Outward Bound will refund their $500 deposit, including the $150 enrollment processing fee.

In some cases, applicants can schedule a payment plan with the Voyageur Outward Bound School rather than paying for the whole course in one lump sum. In cases of payment plans, final balances are due at least 90 days prior to the course-start.

Packing for a Voyageur Outward Bound School course

In general, Outward Bound provides sleeping bags, sleeping mats, rain gear, and all group cooking, camping and traveling equipment. Students need to provide their own clothing, footwear, toiletries and a few other items, like a headlamp and water bottle.

Traveling to and from the Voyageur Outward Bound School

MN Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students meet in the Duluth International Airport baggage claim at 1:00 PM on the first day of the course. Students typically return to the Duluth International Airport around 11:30 AM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 1:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

TX Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students arrive in El Paso, TX the day before their course officially begins.  Students spend the night in a local hotel (not included in course-cost) as directed by their Course Advisor. Students typically return to the El Paso International Airport around 1:00 PM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 2:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

Explicit travel directions will be shared with you after you enroll on a course.  Students should refrain from making travel plans prior to being approved for their course and receiving travel details for their specific course as the exact details may differ slightly from the directions listed above.

Airlines Unaccompanied Minor service Fees

Please Note: Virtually all airlines, except United and Southwest, require that travelers age 14 or younger flying without a companion over the age of 18 pay for their Unaccompanied Minor service. This fee ranges anywhere from $40 to $75 each way. In most cases, the Unaccompanied Minor service is OPTIONAL for travelers between the ages of 15-17.
Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.

Boundary Waters Canoeing – 15 Day

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
7.4.17 – 7.18.17 15 14 – 16 $3275 VMYC-742
7.4.17 – 7.18.17 15 16 – 18 $3275 VMTC-742
8.1.17 – 8.15.17 15 14 – 16 $3025 VMYC-743
8.1.17 – 8.15.17 15 16 – 18 $2975 VMTC-743
Boundary Waters Canoeing – 22 Day

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
7.4.17 – 7.25.17 22 14 – 16 $4695 VMYC-752
7.25.17 – 8.15.17 22 14 – 16 $4025 VMYC-753
7.4.17 – 7.25.17 22 16 – 18 $4695 VMTC-752
7.25.17 – 8.15.17 22 16 – 18 $4025 VMTC-753

Spots fill quickly! Reserve a spot and speak with a Course Advisor.

FormAssembly.com : Error

Sorry, we’re having a technical issue.

Try refreshing the page. If the problem persists, please email us at support@formassembly.com

Thank you for your patience.