Youth Canoeing Trip

This incredible extended expedition takes place in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, MN.  You’ll soon understand why two and three week courses have become the “traditional” Outward Bound course lengths.  While popular summer canoe routes in BWCA provide an idyllic setting for day or week-long expeditions, these longer expeditions allow you to get off the beaten track and discover what it really means to live in the wilderness. 

On an Outward Bound canoeing expedition you’ll learn how to paddle, portage, tie knots and navigate with a compass, but perhaps more importantly, you’ll learn how to live comfortably in one of the most remote, beautiful environments on the planet.  Together with your instructors and your expedition team, you’ll work to accomplish more than you ever thought possible. 

Your course will include multiple weeks of wilderness travel, one to two days of rock climbing, a challenge course, solo experience and a service project.


Outward Bound instructors are committed to bringing teenagers into the wilderness and exposing them to the beauty, freedom and adventure it provides.  From portaging canoes to taking care of your teammates, building a fire to building character, the Boundary Waters is a perfect place to get out of your comfort zone, practice independence, develop leadership skills and build self-confidence.  Outward Bound students are expected to try their best, exercise compassion, practice quality craftsmanship and have a life-changing experience in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.  


Your course starts at the Duluth International Airport where you’ll meet your teammates as they arrive and then drive further north to your first campsite where your instructors will be waiting.  The first night will be filled with introductions, both to your team and to your equipment.  Your instructors will help you re-pack your gear into packs we provide.  Depending on the weather, you might paddle, swim or spend some time sitting around your first campfire as you enjoy the first trail-meal together.  When the mosquitoes arrive it’s probably time for bed.  Crawl into your tents and sleeping bags and start getting used to the sounds of the Northwoods as you drift off to sleep for the night.  

In the morning you’ll pack up your camp, have breakfast and travel to your wilderness area entry site. During the weeks to come you’ll marvel at just how far you can travel without any sign of human activity.  You’ll paddle and portage your way from campsite to campsite learning the skills you need to survive and even live comfortably.  Throughout the expedition you’ll also participate in discussions about the challenges your group is facing each day.  Topics might include: leadership, independent decision-making, goal setting, freedom vs. responsibility, and teamwork. 

You’ll learn how to maneuver your boats, set-up camp, cook meals over a fire and navigate with a map and compass.  As you and your team overcome numerous expedition challenges you’ll also develop a greater belief in yourself and trust in one another.  Students often report feeling more self-confident, self-reliant and motivated during and after their Outward Bound experiences.  Successful completion of your course will require more than the mastery of technical skills; the interpersonal and leadership skills you develop while working as team will prove to be just as important as anything else you learn. 

Towards the end of your expedition you’ll have your Solo experience.  Solo is an opportunity to practice the skills you’ve learned and reflect on your expedition.  You’ll set-up your own shelter and spend some time reflecting on your experience.  Your instructors will check-in on you, but don’t be surprised if you’re doing just fine without any help.  The self-reliance you practice during your solo can be one of the most profound and rewarding aspects of your expedition. 

Soon after Solo you’ll exit the wilderness and make your way back to basecamp.  You’ll clean up and return your equipment before taking some time to relax and swim in the nearby Kawishiwi River.  Don’t get too comfortable…you’ll want to show yourself just how far you’ve come by completing the traditional, post-course wilderness triathlon as well as exploring your boundaries on the High Ropes Course. 

Finally, enjoy a piping hot shower, perhaps the most memorable and enjoyable shower of your life, before joining your group for a final meal to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished.  Your group will spend one last night together before an early breakfast and return trip to Duluth.


The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a one million acre, 150 mile stretch of protected wilderness along the Minnesota/Canadian border.  Unlike much Forest Service land, which is logged for timber and paper, this wilderness area is intended solely for human recreation and wildlife habitat protection, and meant to stand alone as untouched green space.  No roads, power lines, or engines are used within its borders without special permission from the Forest Service.

The landscape consists of thousands of lakes carved out of granite by glaciers nearly 10,000 years ago. These lakes sit within a boreal forest, the world’s largest biome, consisting of granite precipices, spruce and tamarack wetlands, and stands of pines and cedars anywhere from hundreds to nearly one thousand years old.  Lakes are linked by flowing waterways which frequently include waterfalls or rapids that canoeists must avoid by travelling over-land on portage trails.  Portage trails are typically less than half a mile long, although a few extend several miles around cascading rivers or unnavigable wetlands. 

While traveling through the BWCAW, students may see evidence of wildlife such as moose, deer, beaver, bald eagles and other species native to this area.


To apply for this course click the apply button next to the course dates that work for you. The non-refundable application fee of $125 is due at the time of application. For full fee schedule and process, click here. Course tuitions listed do not include our application fee or transportation fee.