We look forward to having you join us at the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp soon! If you have questions about the WFR enrollment process, submitting forms, or anything else, please contact Rachel at the VOBS Admissions office: (218)-491-6804, email@example.com.
THIS IS YOUR COURSE INFORMATION PAGE: Please bookmark this page for future reference. It is your “go to” location for all forms, gear lists, and information specific to YOUR course.
Homeplace, Voyageur Outward Bound School Basecamp, Minnesota
Homeplace is located at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Situated where the Kawishiwi River meets Birch Lake in the Superior National Forest, the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp provides an ideal location for launching/ending BWCAW paddling and dogsledding trips, and practicing white water paddling skills. The surrounding boreal forest also makes Homeplace a great location for spotting moose, wolves, beavers, deer, woodpeckers, eagles and black bear.
Weather During Your Course
Minnesota’s weather can be unpredictable with a wide range of temperatures. Spring is a great time to experience northern Minnesota. It is cool and crisp and the forest is filled with peace and quiet. Spring brings melting ice and dramatic change across the watery landscape. The weather can be unpredictable, ranging from bright sunshine, warm rain or sometimes snow. Average temperatures are cool, but can range from 30-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Evenings can be chilly, but it’s typically sunny and comfortable during the day.
Wilderness First Responder Course – The ideal medical training for leaders in remote areas including outdoor educators, guides, military, professional search and rescue teams, researchers, and those involved in disaster relief. The curriculum is comprehensive and practical. It includes the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments for days and weeks if necessary. Skills and information covered in the course include:
The General Principles of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine with an emphasis on the prevention and identification of medical emergencies, appropriate technology, and risk management.
Patient assessment and emergency care including CPR, basic Life support, and the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and asthma.
Environmental Medicine including altitude illness, hypothermia and heat illness, frostbite and cold injury, lightning, submersion, and environmental toxins.
Backcountry Medicine including the assessment and treatment of common medical problems.
Musculoskeletal Problems including unstable and stable injuries overuse syndromes, and dislocations.
Wound management including open fractures, lacerations, burns and blisters.
Practical skills including splinting, bandaging, litter packaging and medical kit preparation.
International Wilderness Protocols including wound cleaning and exploration, spine injury assessment, dislocation reduction, CPR in the remote setting, anaphylaxis, and asthma.
Mornings are generally devoted to lectures and exams with afternoons devoted to practical hands-on sessions and rescue simulations. Expect many rescue simulations with made-up victims and stage blood that will be videotaped for enhanced learning. Evenings are reserved for study and assignments. Successful completion of this course involves full participation in the field simulations and written exams. Students will receive a WFR certification card upon completion of the course.
Day 0: We encourage participants to arrive the evening before the course-start to figure out housing, the washhouse, and food instead of dealing with it in the rush of the first morning. Plan to arrive by about 8:00 PM, as the basecamp grounds are not lit.
Day 1: Continental breakfast available. Be in the main building, finished with breakfast, and ready to hand in forms and final payments by 7:45 am. The class will start after these final details are wrapped-up and we've made a few general announcements/introductions.
Days 1-8: WFR class from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM each day. Continental breakfast available each morning. Lunch and dinner provided at noon and 6:00 PM each day. Actual start/end times may vary depending on WFR instructor preferences.
Day 8: Finish the WFR class and depart. Plan to stay until the evening, although the final exams are often finished earlier.
Daily flow: Participants help themselves to breakfast before the course start time each morning. Lunch is served at noon. About a half-hour of clean-up chores follows lunch each day, and then it’s back to class until about 5pm or so. Dinner is served at 6:00 PM and evening chores are done at 6:30 PM. There may be evening activities or study groups. The WMA instructors set the course schedule and topics and any variations or absences must be discussed with them at your first convenience.
These are intense courses and 100% attendance throughout is required. The schedule is set by WMA instructor discretion and most days will be full, possibly continuing into the evening. The WMA instructors will outline the course schedule during the first day. There is no advance preparation needed for the WFR. WFR Recert participants will need to download the required texts and complete a pre-course workbook. The required texts are released about 30 days prior to the course.
Bunkhouse accommodations, indoor restrooms, and shower facilities are available. Bring your own sleeping bag, pillow, and hygiene items. Continental breakfast is available and lunch and dinner are prepared for you. Maintenance of the VOBS community space, chores, and meal clean-up are completed by everyone using the facilities. Please expect to take part in these activities along with the other community members. Do inform us of any special requests beyond what’s on your medical form, such as mobility restrictions, medication refrigeration, or dietary concerns.
Those coming from Ely are invited to stay at the basecamp and housing will be assigned for you. There are often evening study groups and optional practice sessions and we plan to have all participants at dinner anyway.
After registering for the WFR course you will receive an email with some paperwork to return to VOBS, instructions for accessing your account through the WMA website, and an invoice. In order to continue holding your spot on the course, you must complete and return the required VOBS paperwork, complete the required WMA paperwork through their website, and make your full payment by the posted due-dates. Your payment, minus a non-refundable $100 processing fee, is refundable if you cancel at least 2-weeks before the course-start. Refunds are not available for cancellations less than 2-weeks before the course-start.
You'll complete your WMA paperwork and find your pre-course assignments on the WMA website. Instructions and a passcode for accessing your account through the WMA website will be emailed to you after you've registered for the course.
If you haven't yet registered for the course, you can do so here.
All of the Items listed in the WMA online student handbook.
Old Set of Clothes for Simulations. Please bring an old set of clothes for simulations and a close-fitting “privacy layer,” such as a tank top and shorts, to be worn under simulation clothes for modesty. These items may become quite dirty and possibly not survive the course.
Prescription Medications. If you use prescription medications, including inhalers, please bring enough for your entire stay. If possible, bring a back-up set.
1 Insurance Card. Please bring your Insurance card, or a copy of the front and back of the card, if you are covered under any medical insurance. The actual card is preferred.
Suggested Packing List
This packing list is only meant to guide you. These are suggestions/guidelines only. In general, bring a variety of clothing layers that allow you to accommodate unpredictable and changing weather and activity levels. Clothes will likely get dirty.
Head & Hands
1 Pair Lightweight Gloves. In case of cool weather.
1 Warm Beanie. Used on colder days and evenings.
1 Sun Hat. At a minimum, it should shade your face like a baseball cap. Having a brim all the way around is even better. Made out of something that can get folded up and packed.
1 Light or Medium Weight Long Underwear Top.
1 Long Sleeve Sun Shirt. Loose, lightweight, and light-colored for sun protection. Instructors prefer old button down men's dress shirts.
3 Short Sleeve Shirts. Cotton or quick-drying fabrics are both absolutely fine.
1 Medium-Weight Warm Top. This can be a polyester or 100 weight wool or fleece shirt. Usually comes with a 1/2 to 3/4’s zipper and nylon/spandex cuffs, collar, and hem.
1 Heavy Fleece or Synthetic Puffy Jacket. The fleece can usually be found at a thrift store or Salvation Army. Must fit over all other layers.
1 Warm Coat. Anything that will keep you warm.
1 Wind Jacket. Nothing fancy, basically an old-fashioned windbreaker. This can usually be found at a thrift store. Must fit over all other layers.
2 Sports Bras. Should be appropriate for athletic activity. Many women will use this as a swimsuit top with Quick Dry shorts. You do not need to bring a swimsuit if you plan on using this combination.
1 Light or Medium Weight Long Underwear Bottoms.
3 Pants. Jeans or work pants. Durable.
Underwear - Bring what you’d like.
1 Swimsuit. There may be opportunities to sauna. Ladies, you may choose to bring a swimsuit or use a pair of shorts and a sports bra for swimwear. No bikinis.
1 Pair Durable, Comfortable Shoes. Whatever is comfortable to wear during the day. Must be close-toed.
1 Extra Pair of Shoes. It's nice to have a back-up in case your first pair get wet.
1 Pair Flip Flops or Sandals. Some folks like to wear flip flops in the shower house.
Bedding, sleeping bag, pillow. Our bunk style accommodations are not heated. Come prepared with warm sleeping gear.
Padded Camp Chair. A stadium pad or Crazy Creek are nice to have while sitting for lectures or conducting simulations outside.
1 Pair Sunglasses w/ Keeper Strap and Hard Case. Essential for protecting your eyes in a highly reflective environment.
1 Waterbottle. A 32 oz. wide mouth Nalgene-style bottle with a plain lid is recommended.
1 Small Headlamp with Extra Batteries. This is a hands free flashlight. It is either an LED or halogen headlamp that uses a minimum of three volts (two or more AA- or AAA-batteries). Halogen bulbs are bright but consume more battery power. LED lamps are bright and consume very little battery power. Bring one extra set of alkaline batteries.
Toiletries & Other Personal Items
1 Sunscreen. Waterproof, SPF 30 or greater. 8-oz. bottle. No aerosol.
1 Lip Balm. 30+ SPF or greater.
1 Toiletries Kit. Toothbrush, small toothpaste, comb or brush. Women: bring plenty of feminine supplies. Change in activities can cause irregular periods.
2 Pair Glasses or Contacts, if needed. Both glasses and contacts are acceptable. Stick with whatever you normally use. Bring plenty of supplies and at least one set of back-up glasses either way.
1 Towel and Shower Supplies. Bring whatever shower supplies you normally use, ideally in travel sizes, and a towel (any cotton towel).
Money. Bring a little money if you think you’d like to purchase a sweatshirt, t-shirt, map, or cap from the Voyageur Outward Bound School store after your course. The school store accepts cash or check only, no credit or debit cards.
Cell Phone and Charger. It’s a good idea to travel with a cell phone in case of travel delays.
The course begins early in the morning on the first day. You are welcome to arrive the night before the course starts if this is more convenient for you. Dinner will be available for folks arriving early.
If you are a VOBS staff and are planning to arrive earlier than 1 night before the course begins or stay overnight after the course ends, you must approve this early-arrival or late-departure with the staffing director, Abby Dare.
Plenty of parking is available at the basecamp. Follow signs to the main office building where you'll be asked to sign-in at an un-staffed welcome table. At this table you'll also find your housing assignment and a map of the campus. Feel free to park near your housing assignment while you unload but then move your car to the long-term parking lot.
If you need a ride to VOBS or would be willing to offer a ride to someone, please email Greta Blessing. We will connect this group via email about 2-weeks before the course begins so you can coordinate your arrival and departure logistics together.
Cell phone reception at the basecamp can be spotty. If your family/friends need to reach you and are not able to connect via cell phone, they can call the Outward Bound WFR coordinator, Jennie, at: 218-491-6788. She will relay any messages and/or help you connect via landline.
If you need to receive mail while you're here the address is:
Dietary restrictions or other needs: We can accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions, allergies, and other needs. Please note these needs on your enrollment paperwork before returning it. If you neglected to include this information in your enrollment paperwork and/or need to update your information, please contact Greta at the VOBS Admissions office: 218-491-6787 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Prevention of Tick-Borne Diseases
Tick-borne disease is a risk in the wild areas of northern Minnesota, where VOBS runs the majority of their courses. Fortunately, there are prevention steps that are very effective and, in the case of infection, treatment is relatively simple and recovery complete, so long as the diagnosis is made early. Students and their families should educate themselves on the risks, prevention measures, and signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases by reading this letter from our Safety Director and the information provided below.
In 2014, the Lyme disease incident rate in Minnesota was .16 per 1,000 people.* Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, but is not the only risk. Some of the other common tick-borne diseases reported in Minnesota include Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan (POW) virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia and Anaplasmosis. There are treatments available for these diseases, but prevention is by far the best and first step!
Staff will teach students to recognize ticks and remove them as soon as they are found. This is the BEST form of disease prevention. Removing ticks within 24 hours considerably reduces the risk of being infected with a disease-causing bacterium.
When traveling or camping in areas with woods, bushes, high grass or leaf litter, staff and students will check themselves for ticks at least once every day.
Wear and use protective clothing/equipment (long pants tucked into socks, for instance). Light colors make it easier to see ticks.
Use a chemical barrier. Treat clothing and footwear (long-sleeve shirts, jackets, hats, gaiters and boots) with permethrin to repel and disable ticks. This treatment will last for up to a month. See protocol for treating clothing with Permethrin, below. Clothing must be treated prior to traveling to course start.
DO NOT treat base layers (long underwear tops and bottoms for example).
Use a chemical repellent. Apply insect repellent containing about 30% DEET to exposed skin, according to the directions on the container. This lasts for only a few hours before you have to reapply it.
Signs and Symptoms
There are many symptoms associated with tick-borne diseases. Infected people may not have all of these symptoms and many of these symptoms can occur with other diseases as well. Some common symptoms of infection with tick-borne diseases include body/muscle aches, fever, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, rash, stiff neck and facial paralysis. Seek medical attention if signs and symptoms of a tick borne illness appear. Tick-borne diseases are diagnosed based on symptoms and the possibility that the person has been exposed to infected ticks. Most cases can be successfully treated with specific types of antibiotics.