Bryan on Scouting

2018-2019 preview: Northern Tier National High Adventure Program

It’s the fourth-annual High-Adventure Week here on Bryan on Scouting. This week is all about the once-in-a-lifetime experiences awaiting Scouts and Venturers at the BSA’s four national high-adventure eses. Plus, we share tips for securing your spot in 2018, 2019 and beyond.


Paddle your way to an experience of a lifetime in Minnesota and Canada at the Northern Tier National High Adventure Program.

During their 6- to 11-night journey of 50 to 150 miles, Northern Tier crews follow in the footsteps and paddle tracks of 1800s French-Canadian voyagers.

After loading their canoes with gear for the entire journey, Scouts and Venturers explore millions of acres of pristine lakes, meandering rivers, dense forests and fascinating wetlands in Northern Minnesota, Northwest Ontario and Northeast Manitoba.

In the winter, Northern Tier emerges from a blanket of snow to offer the BSA’s premier winter high-adventure program. It’s called Okpik, and it challenges Scouts and Venturers to learn how to thrive in subzero temperatures, travel across frozen wilderness lakes and construct their own sleeping structures out of snow.

Because Northern Tier’s demand often exceeds available space, spots are allocated using an online lottery system. The lottery for 2019 Northern Tier Wilderness Canoe Trips and Okpik Programs opens Jan. 2, 2018.

Northern Tier registration and lottery info

2018: The lottery for 2018 spots occurred in January 2017. However, some spaces are still available — especially in August 2018. Go here to see details; look for the link marked “Click Here for Trip Availability.”

2019: The 2019 Northern Tier registration lottery opens at 9 a.m. Central Time on Jan. 2, 2018. It closes a week later: 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Jan. 9, 2018. Click here to enter or click here to learn more about the lottery process.

Northern Tier lottery tips

Classic high-adventure, new logo

Northern Tier debuted a new logo this year, and it is awesome.

The logo, designed by Walsh Branding, was created after input from staff, alumni and past participants. Each Northern Tier base will retain its individual image that comprised the tri-base “shield,” but the combination of all three will no longer be used to represent Northern Tier.

The “Ascending Loon” is designed to represent the overall accomplishments each Northern Tier crew achieves.

As a reminder, here’s the previous logo:

Northern Tier Outreach Initiative welcomes underserved youth

On a Northern Tier canoe trip, participants learn physical fortitude and mental strength. Through the isolated interactions within their crew, Scouts and Venturers learn lessons in leadership, in the importance of doing their share of the work and in the necessity of teamwork to accomplish difficult tasks.

This is all done with minimal input from adults. Youth-led is the mantra at Northern Tier.

In 2016, Northern Tier introduced a program called the Northern Tier Outreach Initiative. The goal was to ensure that all Scouts and Venturers — even those from underserved areas — can experience the life-changing benefits of Northern Tier.

This is done through a partnership with local councils. Northern Tier picks up the majority of the costs; it’s their way of giving back to Scouting. The council provides transportation to and from Northern Tier, qualified supervision for travel and the trip, and a location for a pre-trip shakedown campout.

Other Northern Tier news you need


Thanks to Leslie Thibodeaux for the info. Photos by Don Dillon, Harry Oakes