ABOUT OUR TRIPS
WHAT TYPE OF TRIPS ARE OFFERED THROUGH THE NORTHERN LAKES CANOE BASE?
We offer three general types of trips, varying in length from 3-10 days in the woods (4-11 days total, including a pre-trip planning and training day). The in-the-woods experience is very similar for each type of trip.
Standard Trip – These trips are scheduled in advance throughout the summer and advertised through our council program guide each spring. In-council girls often sign up for these trips individually or with a friend, and they are matched with up to six other girls who signed up for the same session. They range from a “Get Your Feet Wet” session (3 days in the woods) to an “Old Pro” session (10 days in the woods). Girls are typically dropped off by a parent on arrival day and then picked up on departure day. We also offer a “Women in the Wilderness” session each year to adult women who have always wanted to go on a BWCAW trip. The per-day cost for a Standard Trip is the same as the per-day cost for a Flex Trip. All-girl standard trips always have two trained guides. Each January we publish a camp guide that lists all of our council’s regular sessions.
Flex Trip – These trips are scheduled up to 10 months in advance by Girl Scout troops or council-sponsored groups from Girl Scout councils across the country. The adults who are traveling with the troop or group typically go on the trip with the girls, and groups larger than 8 are split into smaller crews to comply with BWCAW leave-no-trace regulations. Flex Trips are typically 5 days in the woods (6 days total). The per-day cost for a Flex Trip is the same as the per-day cost for a Standard Trip. Flex trips with adults have one or two trained guides. All-girl flex trips always have two trained guides. While we know moms/dads and daughters often want to be in the same crew, we have seen that oftentimes splitting up moms and daughters leads to a surprising amount of growth. We even encourage you to consider splitting up into an all-adult crew and an all-youth crew! Contact us now to start looking at possible dates for next summer. These trips are also called Getaways on GSUSA’s website.
Destination – These trips are offered through GSUSA’s travel program for older girls, and attract individual girls from all over the country. They fly into Duluth, where they are met by our staff, who escort the girls as they rock climb and kayak in Duluth, and then drive to Ely for a 7 or 10-day canoe trip. These trips typically go into Quetico Provincial Park, the Canadian wilderness area north of the BWCAW. Destination trips are all-youth trips, so they are accompanied by two trained guides. Girls apply for Destinations in the fall, but should feel free to contact us later, as we often have openings even in springtime.
What is a typical trip like?
A typical crew might have five girls, perhaps one or two parents or troop leaders, and one or two trained Girl Scout guides (all groups will include at least two adults). The crew will paddle 3 canoes.
Feel free to use Google Earth or another map to actually see the lakes described here, as they are real lakes that Girl Scouts frequent regularly!
The crew starts on day one around 9am at Moose Lake, then paddles down Newfound, stopping for lunch on the shore around midday. After lunch, we’ll continue paddling into Sucker Lake and then taking a short portage (carrying our canoes and gear over land) into Birch Lake, where we’ll set up our tents, gather firewood for cooking dinner, and enjoy a refreshing swim. On day two, the crew might head up to Knife Lake, doing several portages and eating lunch along the way. Teamwork is key as Girl Scouts portage, with every girl having a buddy or two, and guides working with girls to make sure every girl is pitching in in a way that is challenging but achievable for her. The crew finds a site on Knife Lake, pitches tents, cooks dinner, and perhaps has a campfire or goes for a swim.
Day three is layover day, so girls may sleep in, cook pancakes on the fire, and go exploring. Dorothy Molter’s islands on Knife Lake are filled with history of her days as the “Root Beer Lady” and Thunder Point offers a short, but steep hike to a very scenic vista. Swimming, writing in journals, picking blueberries, resting, and having fun are all an important part of layover day.
On day four, the crew packs up its gear and may head toward Ensign Lake, doing two challenging portages into and out of Vera Lake on the way. Again, teamwork is key on these portages, as girls take turns carrying packs and canoes, always with a buddy, teamwork, and plenty of water and rest breaks. On this last night of the canoe trip, girls often want to cherish every last moment and the crew may stay up late to make popcorn and see the northern lights or stargaze.
Day five is the final day of the trip, so the crew packs up and heads back through the wilderness to Moose Lake, stopping for lunch on the way. You’ll arrive back at the canoe base around 2pm, shower, pack up, and wave good-bye until next time!
What happens at the end of the trip?
On the last day of their trip, girls return to the base at 2pm, and then shower, have a snack, fill out an evaluation, and have time to shop at our trading post before leaving around 4pm. We cannot promise an earlier arrival to our base, as paddling conditions vary from day to day. Again, it is very reasonable to reach Minneapolis that evening, for a flight the following morning. When you’re all clean and packed up, we’ll wave good-bye until next time!
Do I have to know how to paddle or portage?
No! On your arrival day, after a warm welcome and introductions, the afternoon is spent preparing for the trip. All participants will learn to carry canoes, paddle, and swamp and empty a canoe. Your guide will help you sort and pack gear into our canoe packs. The afternoon is very hands-on, with safety and teamwork being constant themes.
After dinner on the fire in the campsite area, participants learn about leave no trace principles and canoe trip safety rules. Without compromising our seriousness about safety, we make the evening safety program fun and participatory for all. Crews sleep in their tents in our campsite area before departing by canoe on their adventure the following morning.
I'm in! Specifically, what trips are offered?
We offer trips with pre-scheduled dates for individuals or small groups, or if you have a large group, contact us to set up flexible start dates around your schedules!
11-Day Trips (10 days in the wilderness). Participate in route planning, navigation, and advanced camp skills while exploring some of the remotest areas of the Boundary Waters. Cost $690. Grades 9-adult
8-Day Trips (7 days in the wilderness). Get off the beaten path and watch for wildlife, pictographs, and northern lights as you paddle and portage on a wilderness adventure. Cost $530. Grades 7-adult.
6-Day Trips (5 days in the wilderness). A perfect blend of challenge and relaxation. A great first trip into the Boundary Waters. Paddle beautiful lakes, try out portaging, and enjoy swimming, singing, games, and nature. Cost $420. Grades 7-adult.
4-Day Trips (3 days in the wilderness). Paddle beautiful lakes and take it easy while swimming, singing, and exploring near-by islands and bays. Cost $290. Grades 7-adult.
Destinations – North Country Rock-n-Wilderness (did you miss the application deadline? Contact us anyway to see if we have spots!)
Spend 7 days in the wilderness plus time for rock climbing and kayaking in Duluth, MN. Ages 12-14.
Spend 10 days in the wilderness plus time for rock climbing and kayaking in Duluth, MN. Ages 15-18.
Leadership – Guide in Training
For girls ages 16+ who want to learn to lead wilderness canoe trips. Plan to attend a minimum of three trips to assure adequate training. Contact our summer director, Ann McNally, at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
Camp Care Day. Help prepare the camp by planting gardens, cleaning cabins, raking leaves, and more. Participants will receive a $15 coupon toward registration at any summer camp.
Touch the Wilderness. Girls in grades 4-6 can enjoy this short three day adventure, including two nights of camping on the canoe base property, a full day paddling into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, coming back to camp both nights on our property, where they practice cooking on a fire and learn about the area’s natural and cultural history. On the last day, girls have the opportunity to hike to Ely’s Kawishiwi Falls and visit the International Wolf Center. Cook over a fire, sing songs, go for a swim, and spend two nights under the stars. 3-days. Grades 4-6. Cost, $220.
Canoe Base Sampler Day. Arrange a date with our summer director to visit and explore the canoe base. Learn some paddling basics, meet the guides, and enjoy a floating lunch. The program runs from 10am-4pm and is usually of interest to Brownie and Junior troops within a few hours driving distance of Ely. Cost, $25. Contact email@example.com to schedule.
Canoe Base Visit / Free Paddle. Any troop or Girl Scout and her family is welcome for a free 2-hour visit to explore the canoe base, practice portaging a canoe, go out for a paddle in the bay, meet our guides, or make a campfire. All ages, free. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
Women in the Wilderness. Take an all-adult trip with other wilderness women. Let your guides know what you want – challenging portages, relaxation by the lake, or both! For women of all ages, 18+. Cost $470.
What is Included in the Cost?
The cost includes almost everything you would need for a canoe trip, including:
• Canoes, lifejackets, paddles, maps, BWCAW wilderness permit.
• All camp equipment, including tents, pots, dishes, stove, soap, fuel.
• Nutritious meals, with vegetables and meat. We eat “real” food in the woods and often bake dessert on the fire!
• A first-aid kit and emergency radio.
• Trained Girl Scout canoe guides with Wilderness First Aid, Lifeguarding, and CPR certification, and specific training in safe BWCAW travel practices.
You are responsible for bringing your own clothing, rain jacket and rain pants, boots, and a sleeping bag. With some notice, we can provide some of these items for some people in your group, from our large stash of donated and lost-and-found items. Contact email@example.com if you'd like to inquire about borrowing gear for your trip.
What if I'm too young, or just not ready for a full trip?Our typical trips are open to girls ages 12-18 and adult women. If you’re not old enough yet for those, you can check out the canoe base at one of three different shorter options described above: Free Paddle, Sampler Day, and Touch the Wilderness.