Cool Camps: Maine High Adventure Area still going strong after 50 years

Photo by Joe Klementovich

Describing the BSA’s national high-adventure bases, the October 1984 issue of Scouting magazine had this to say about what was at the time called Maine National High Adventure Area:

More than six million acres of privately-owned woodlands, public waterways and parks await campers in this outstanding high-adventure area. Plan a hike along the Appalachian Trail and observe American wildlife such as moose, deer, bear and eagles. Canoe one of Maine’s beautiful lakes or shoot the rapids of a whitewater stream in a rubber raft. If you can’t choose between the two, combine them for a pack-and-paddle adventure.

Thirty-nine years later — and nearly 50 years since it was originally founded — the adventure continues. Now called Maine High Adventure Area (MHA) and operated by the Katahdin Area Council, the base still provides Scouts and adults with a unique backcountry experience.

The legacy program remains largely unchanged, offering fully outfitted 1- or 2-week backcountry canoe and hiking treks for Scouts 13 and older and their adult leaders.

Each crew is accompanied by a trained guide to provide instruction on outdoor skills along with environmental and historical interpretation.

“The thrill of running white water can be enjoyed, along with almost any other kind of outdoor experience,” wrote Boys’ Life (now Scout Life) when MHA was first established back in the 1970s. “The new wilderness base may be the most versatile of all the high-adventure areas.”

Photo by Joe Klementovich

Tons of options

The MHA programs are designed to give participants different options of exploring the more than 4 million acres of Maine woods and waterways.

Each trip is tailored to the group’s skills and preferences and includes a wide range of options, from flat-water lakes to whitewater rivers.

Interested in more of a slow-paced, laid-back journey? MHA can do that.

Looking for more of a challenging, fast-paced adventure? MHA can do that, too.

Crews can also add day hikes and other side trips such as climbing majestic mountains, visiting historical landmarks and discovering unique natural areas.

Photo by Joe Klementovich

And then there’s Katahdin

Towering above it all (literally) is Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine and the northern end of the Appalachian Trail.

Interested in climbing it? MHA can provide that, too.

If you do it during an epic canoe trek, climbing Katahdin might be the most epic “side hike” ever.

“It was pretty intimidating,” 14-year-old Utsav Adhikari said to Scout Life when describing the 5,269-foot mountain shrouded in fog. “But we had each other’s backs on the water, and we had them on the mountain.”

MHA operates from late-June through mid-August. Minimum participant age is 13 years old by September 1st of the attending year. Contact them directly for availability on specific dates.

The base is also looking to hire staffers for this summer. This life-changing experience is open to anyone 18 years and older. Click here to learn more about working at MHA. (Interested in working at a summer camp near you this year? Click here to learn more!)

“Our mission as a BSA high-adventure program is to change lives through outdoor adventures that challenge young people to grow physically, mentally and spiritually,” says director Keith Nelson.

You can also follow MHA on social media for more updates.


What’s your favorite BSA camp or high-adventure base? Shoot us an email or let us know in the comments.

About Aaron Derr 258 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.