4/29/24 to 5/6/24


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.


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.

Sample Itinerary

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.  

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. 


Our lodging is rustic shared bunkhouse-style accommodations. Cabins & bunkhouses do not have indoor plumbing. A shared indoor washhouse with restrooms & shower facilities is 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 is 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 forms, such as mobility restrictions, medication refrigeration, or dietary concerns.

Those coming from Ely are invited to stay at the base camp 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.