Adventures » What is OA Canadian Odyssey?

General Information

After ten successful years in Minnesota, the OA Wilderness Voyage is expanding its area of operation with the introduction of the Canadian Odyssey program. Adjacent to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota rests the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. Together they make up the wilderness portion of the greater Quetico-Superior area. For nearly 100 years, the Quetico has remained largely untouched by conservation efforts even though it is traveled by a quarter of a million people each year, many of whom are from the United States. Both the Order of the Arrow and Canadian authorities are eager to act on this opportunity for service.

The Quetico Provincial Park is a vast wilderness with over 600 lakes set inside more than a million acres. The Canadian Odyssey allows Arrowmen, returning and new participants alike, to see and explore entirely new territory while at the same time providing crucial service. Odyssey crews will labor to repair and maintain portage trails in Ontario during the first week. The second week they will paddle back to the United States on a route of their choosing.

Program Cost

Participant cost is $200 for the two week experience. A $50 non-refundable deposit is required with the application. The balance of the fee is due at the time of acceptance as a participant in the program. Additional expenses, including travel to and from Charles L. Sommers as well as miscellaneous purchases, are the responsibility of the participant.

Those applicants not accepted as participants in the program will have their deposit returned. Participants canceling acceptance will be eligible for a refund if notification is received to the national office by May 15. No shows are not eligible for a refund.

Travel to Canadian Odyssey

Travel arragnements to Canada are not necessary. All OA Canadian Odyssey participants start out at Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base in Ely, Minnesota. The day after they arrive, Canadian Odyssey participants will paddle to the Canadian border from Charles L. Sommers canoe base to begin their trip. You will be responsible for your transportation to and from Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base.

Private Vehicle - Private vehicles can be driven directly to Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base, twenty-two miles from Ely, Minnesota. Voyage staffers will meet you at the stockade next to the parking lot the day your trek officially begins. The address is:

14798 Moose Lake Road
Ely, Minnesota 55731

Airplane - A shuttle van is available from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP). Uniformed scouters from the local OA lodge in Minneapolis will greet you when your flight arrives and assist you in getting you to the shuttle. The shuttle leaves the airport at 12:30 p.m. to allow time to claim luggage on your scheduled start date, and arrives at Charles L. Sommers at approximately 6:00 p.m. (approximately 5.5 hour trip). If you plan to arrive via plane, you must schedule your arrival no later than 12:00 p.m. into the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The return trip leaves at 7:30 a.m. on your last scheduled day 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.

Participants are strongly encouraged to find a travel companion from their home council to ease the process of traveling to the base.

Special Concerns/Fun Facts

Due to the international travel involved with this program, it is required that all participants must have a valid passport as well as a clean criminal record or they will NOT be permitted to cross the international border and will be sent home.

For information on obtaining a passport (The participant must have a passport or passport card.), visit on the internet. It may take up to 7 weeks to obtain a passport after applying so please plan accordingly. Again, if you arrive for the Canadian Odyssey program and do not have a passport and a clean criminal record you will be sent home.

Lodge and Council Responsibilities

Lodges and councils should only approve those youth Arrowmen who meet all of the qualifications for this program. Charles L. Sommers is not an easy experience and is a risk for those not physically prepared for the rigors of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

National OA Odyssey Code of Conduct

The general welfare of any group depends on the conduct of each individual member. This ensures the success of our national service project and provides the maximum benefit to every participant. As an Arrowman, I understand this and support the reasonable demands of conduct expected of me.

As a member of the Order of the Arrow I will:

  • Live the Scout Oath and Law and Order of the Arrow Obligation.

  • Observe, respect, and strive to live the Boy Scout Outdoor Code.

  • Observe the rules of the BWCAW, U.S. Forest Service, Quetico Provincial Park, and my Voyage Foremen.

  • Wear my full official BSA uniform or work clothes as required. Unofficial decorations are not part of my official uniform.

  • Attend and participate in all functions of the program.

  • Be personally responsible for damage or loss of property.

  • Respect all safety procedures and learn to use equipment properly.

  • Observe quiet hours.

  • Keep my tent clean and dispose of trash in its proper place.

  • At all times, be considerate of participants and staff at Northern Tier, and individuals within the Quetico/Superior Wilderness.

  • Understand the purchase, possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes or illicit drugs at any time during the program will not be permitted and will result in dismissal from the program at the expense of the participant. This standard shall apply to all participants. Compliance with state law regulations will apply at all times.

  • Respect the laws of the State of Minnesota, the province of Ontario, the towns of Atikokan and Ely, the Township of Fall Lake, and Northern Tier rules prohibiting the use of fireworks, firearms and gambling. Infraction of these regulations will be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program at the expense of the participant.