It gets cold in Ely, Minnesota.
Actually, it gets really cold.
In fact, the cold is the entire point.
Cold-weather camping is one of the most challenging — and rewarding — of all the outdoors adventures offered by the BSA.
BSA president and CEO Roger Krone recently traveled to Northern Tier to get an up-close look at Northern Tier’s winter activities.
Check out the video below.
It’s called Okpik
Okpik (pronounced OOK-pik) is one of the BSA’s most popular outdoor winter experiences.
“In the winter, we run what we call Okpik, and that’s our winter camping program,” says Krone. “Now you might ask, ‘What is a winter camping program?’”
Krone goes on to demonstrate a handful of the winter activities offered at Northern Tier, including ice fishing, sled dogs, snowshoeing and of course a sleepover camp where Scouts spend the night on the ice.
“We were fortunate enough to actually see the Northern Lights,” he says.
Krone also got a sneak peek of Northern Tier’s equipment storage facility, and properly notes that they can supply all the equipment you need to go winter camping.
“If you come with your base layer, we’ve got thermal layers and wind layers and boots and camping gear,” he says. “Anything you need to go winter camping you can check out here.”
Who can go to Northern Tier?
Okpik Camping Weekends are open to youth ages 14 years old and up, or in the 8th grade.
Crews will pack their gear onto sleds and head out into the wilderness for 1-3 nights. They will learn to set up a campsite, build a snow shelter, cook meals at low temperatures and travel by ski, snowshoe or foot across frozen lakes.
Scouts can attend with a unit or as individuals.
Interestingly enough, Okpik started around 50 years ago as a cold-weather training program for adults only. Today, adults can still experience Cold Weather Leadership Training at Northern Tier.
Registration for all of Northern Tier’s 2025 programs opens January 18, 2024.
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