Adventures » OA Wilderness Voyage » Parent's Information

Contained on this page is information often requested by parents, as well as some other things they may find useful.

Expedition Number:

Your son's expedition number is based on the day his Wilderness Voyage begins. The format used is OAV, followed by the first digit of the month, and two digits of the day the Voyage begins. For example, if your son's Voyage begins on June 10th, his expedition number will be OAV-610. If it begins on July 8th, his expedition number will be OAV-708. Please be sure to include your son's name and expedition number in all correspondence.

Emergency Information:

If an emergency makes it necessary to reach your son while on an OA Voyage, you may call the OA Voyage office at the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base at (218)-365-4811, extension 115. Each crew is equipped with an emergency radio that can be used to relay urgent messages to crews on the water during a mid-Voyage radio call.

Writing to a Participant:

If you would like to write to a participant while he is on an OA Voyage, you may use the address below. We recommend mailing letters early in the week to ensure they arrive before the end of the trek.

Arrowman's Name - Crew Number (ex. OAV-621)
Northern Tier High Adventure Base
14798 Moose Lake Road
Ely, MN 55731

Frequently Asked Questions:

Below are a list of some frequently asked questions and their answers.

How much does it cost?

Participation in the OA Wilderness Voyage is $200 for a two-week Boundary Waters experience. The fee for shuttle transportation from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport is due upon arrival at the Sommers Base. The cost is $120. Please bring payment for shuttle using cash or check, as credit cards are NOT accepted.

My son is "on the water" for two-weeks. Is there any way to get in touch with him during this time?

There is no direct way for a parent to contact the participant during the two-week experience. (Note: See Emergency Contact information above) However a phone call to the Northern Tier High Adventure Base at (218) 365-4811 can be directed to the Order of the Arrow Office (extension 115), where a message can be taken for the participant during the Voyage Director's weekly visit with the crew, or passed along during the mid-trip radio call performed by the Voyage Staff. Upon arrival, Scouts are told to contact their parents before they set out on their Voyage to confirm that they did in fact arrive to Northern Tier.

Will my son be safe?

Every precaution that can be taken to ensure the safety of participants at all times will be. All OA Voyage staff members are trained in Wilderness First Aid Basics and are CPR certified. The most common injuries that occur during an OA Wilderness Voyage are minor cuts, scratches, bruises, and insect bites, which are easily treated with the comprehensive first-aid kit that accompanies each crew.

My son is on medication. How can I ensure his medication is taken when it is supposed to be?

Upon arrival at the Northern Tier High Adventure Base, participants undergo a recheck of the BSA Class 3 Medical evaluation form by the medical staff. (This health form will have been sent to the participants in their acceptance packet). All medications are collected (if necessary), and kept by the Voyage Foremen responsible for the participant. The Voyage Director makes certain that the staff is aware of participant medical needs, and instructs the staff in proper distribution of medication.

What is the OA Voyage policy for smoking, drinking and drug use on the trip?

The OA Wilderness Voyage follows the BSA Guidelines for tobacco use. Use of alcohol and/or drugs is not permitted in any Scouting setting, and will not be tolerated. Voyage staff members perform a "shake down" of participant gear prior to departure, ensuring only necessary equipment is taken on the trip. If use of non-prescription drugs or alcohol on the trail is identified, participants will be removed from the experience and sent home at their own expense.

What equipment should I send with my son?

In the Voyage acceptance packet, the Personal Equipment List is included to guide your selection of equipment. If a participant arrives at the base and does not have a needed item, it can be purchased at the Northern Tier High Adventure Trading Post, which stocks most items that may be needed. Participants should always take care to bring only what is listed on the equipment checklist, as any additional items will most likely be deemed un-necessary at "shake down", and cannot be taken on the Voyage.

What is a "shake down"?

A shake down is a review of participant's equipment by the OA Voyage Foremen prior to departure to ensure only necessary gear is taken on the trip. Equipment packs can quickly become overweight (and unmanageable on the trip) if too much un-necessary gear is included.

Is fishing allowed?

Yes. Participants must have a fishing license and Northern Tier recommends that all Fishing Licenses be purchased online in advance. Ensure your son brings a copy of his license.

MINNESOTA FISHING LICENSES - All individuals, 16 years of age and older need to obtain a license to fish in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), licenses can be purchased in advanced over the phone by calling 1-888-665-4236, or online. For current pricing and license information visit NOTE: A Social Security Number is required to obtain a Minnesota Fishing License

Will my son earn any rank advancement or Merit Badges on the trip?

The focus of the Order of the Arrow Wilderness Voyage is a two-week physical and spiritual challenge, not rank advancement. All participants of OA Voyage must be at least 16, and as members of the Order of the Arrow are already beyond the First Class Rank. Although no formal rank advancement or merit badges are awarded, participants will leave the program eligible for the Leave No Trace Camping Award, and depending on the trip they choose, may be eligible for the BSA 50-miler Award, and 75, 100, 125, or 150-miler awards offered specifically by Northern Tier. Completion of this program may also meet certain requirements for the Canoeing merit badge.

Once you've signed up, these are the next steps (transportation et al)?

Once your son has signed up for OA Wilderness Voyage, it is time to plan for the trip. You will want to reconfirm the dates of arrival and departure. You should research the transportation options that are available between your home and the high adventure base. Next, schedule the best transportation method, considering all options including airline, bus, train, or car. The preferred form of travel for the Voyage is airline or personal vehicle. It is suggested that participants travel with a buddy from their local area so that they may have an equally special experience.

If flying to Northern Tier, travel to and from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. When they arrive at the airport, they will be met by a uniformed Scouter. It is best if your Scout wears either his uniform or a scouting related t-shirt so that he is easily identifiable by our uniformed Scouter.

Enclosed in your acceptance packet you will find information regarding your Individual Arrival Plans form which you will receive by email. Please follow the directions to confirm your email address and compile all necessary information as soon as possible in order to submit your form in a timely manner.

Is ground transportation provided to and from the airport?

Yes. Participants should arrive by 12:30 p.m. on their scheduled start date (June 15, 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27, and August 3 are the 2016 session starting dates). The shuttle will leave at 12:30 p.m. The fee for shuttle transportation from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport is due upon arrival at the Sommers Base. The cost is $100. Please bring payment for shuttle using cash or check, as credit cards are NOT accepted. Information is in the acceptance packet regarding registering for ground transportation.

The return trip leaves at 7:30 a.m. on your last scheduled day (June 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3, 10, 17 are the 2016 session end dates) from the Sommers Canoe Base, arriving at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport at 12:30 p.m. DO NOT schedule your return flight before 2:30 p.m. on the last day of your trek.

How much spending money should my son bring?

Many participants do bring spending money. The participant is responsible for meals to and from the base. The base has a trading post where souvenirs and supplies may be purchased. The spending money brought by participants is at the discretion of the family.

Is there a deadline for signing up?

No, there is not a deadline for applications. However, on March 15th, the National OA Office will start sending acceptance packets to the Arrowmen who have signed up, regardless of whether or not there are still open slots. That being said, if slots remain open after March 15th, Arrowmen may continue signing up until OA Voyage is full.

About the OA Voyage Staff:

All of the OA Wilderness Voyage Foremen are highly trained, and skilled in canoeing, camping, and trail building. Before the first Voyage arrives, the staff spends weeks preparing, learning how to build trail from the U.S. Forest Service, brushing up on proper canoeing techniques, and reviewing the Leave No Trace camping principles practiced in the Boundary Waters. In addition, all Foremen are certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid. The Voyage staff is composed entirely of Eagle Scouts who are also active members of the Order of the Arrow.