Boundary Waters Dogsledding & Cross Country Skiing for Veterans

This extraordinary opportunity is for those who lead lives of purpose and service.
This seven-day cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding expedition takes place in pristine, rarely traveled, snow-laden forests and provides ample opportunities for veterans to reconnect with themselves and fellow service members.

Amidst the vast and rugged landscape of Minnesota’s Northwoods, participants learn to harness the dogs and use verbal commands to maneuver the sled across frozen lakes and amongst snowy pines. Throughout the course the crew works as a cohesive unit, pushing themselves in sub zero temperatures and striving to find the next campsite, where they share life stories beneath the majestic northern lights and sleep under the starlit sky. The untarnished Boundary Waters wilderness reminds participants why they lead lives of purpose and service.

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 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 the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more physically demanding, winter enthusiasts’ travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country skis and snowshoes.

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.

Veterans Courses
Outward Bound Veterans expeditions build on camaraderie and the challenge of the natural world as a pathway to healing. These expeditions encourage participants to connect with existing strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, mission-driven environment. As they harness the power of wartime experiences like carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside, these courses help build the self-confidence and sense of purpose veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.

  • Build core skills: Veterans receive hands-on training on expedition and personal skills. As part of an inclusive, supportive crew, they gain communication skills, establish trust and validate experiences among other veterans.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Instructors focus on Outward Bound core values like compassion, integrity, excellence, inclusion and diversity to help veterans reflect, share insights and live in the present moment.
  • Process and Reflect: Journaling, one-on-one and group discussions help veterans understand how Outward Bound experiences might translate to coping skills back home.
  • What participants learn: Veterans return home inspired, ready to tap into rediscovered strengths and eager to find new ways to contribute to society.

Listed below are a few of the activities:

Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing

While on the expedition you will navigate a route over frozen lakes and rivers and travel the overland portage trails between them. You will develop skills in cross country skiing, winter camping, taking care of your team of dogs and driving a dogsled.

Group members will take turns mushing the sled throughout the course, but everyone will care for the dogs on a daily basis. Mushing is not a passenger sport; it is hard and rewarding work. Students generally spend at least one day driving the team during this week long expedition.

Each type of terrain you encounter will require different skills and group organization. On level, smooth terrain most group members will ski or snowshoe ahead as two or three group members handle the sleds and dog teams. Skiers scout for obstacles, break trail through the snow and return to help maneuver the sleds when necessary. Over rough areas, the whole group will help to push, pull and turn the sled.

Winter Living and Camp Set Up

With our training, the group will find that they can live comfortably in cold temperatures. Each will learn how to regulate their body temperature with layers of clothing, cardiovascular exercise and high fat diet.

Setting up a solid winter camp takes time, energy and teamwork. Each day the crew will scout out a sheltered bay with good firewood in the late afternoon. Night tends to come quickly in the great white north and does not allow any downtime once camp is reached as the group will split firewood, set up shelter and make a fire for hot water and dinner once travel is done for the day.

Sleeping under tarps will ward off the chilling winds. There may be a chance to erect a room sized wall tent large enough to accommodate a wood stove and your brigade of fellow Veterans. You will cook all of the delicious meals over an open fire which is built and smothered each morning and evening using Leave No Trace® techniques.

Reflective evening conversations with fellow travelers amongst the solitude of the wintry north woods creates the perfect end to a long day before drifting off to a well deserved sleep under the brilliant stars.


The solo is not a survival exercise. The overnight Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives you the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. You will set up your own shelter, build a fire and cook dinner for yourself.

Participants often have mixed feelings leading up to Solo but most are ready for a break from the rigors of the expedition when it arrives. Solo tends to provoke profound and powerful learning in a short period of time often becomes one of the most memorable part of the Outward Bound experience.

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

These courses would not be possible without the generous support of private donors. To make a difference in the life of a veteran please DONATE NOW.

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.

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

7 – Day Expedition

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
1/29/17 – 2/04/17 7 18+ $0 VMVD-721
2/12/17 – 2/18/17 7 18+ $0 VMVD-722
2/26/17 – 3/04/17 7 18+ $0 VMVD-723
3/05/17 – 3/11/17 7 18+ $0 VMVD-724

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

Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing for Veterans Inquiry

Applicant Information


555 555 5555

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