Adventures » What is OA Wilderness Voyage?

General Information

The Order of the Arrow Wilderness Voyage program is a fourteen-day experience at the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base, part of the Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases, in Ely, Minnesota.

The OA Voyage program is inspired by the traditions of the French Voyageurs who ventured the northern wilderness during the 1700-1800's. Traveling thousands of miles by water and portage, these Voyageurs were hired to haul goods and furs to trade with Native Americans and Europeans. In the spirit of these adventurers, Arrowmen will embark on a voyage that is twofold.

One-half of the OA Northern Tier Wilderness Voyage focuses on portage trail and campsite maintenance within the Boundary Waters. The remaining expedition is spent on a canoeing adventure that is planned and chosen by the participants in the program.

The Order of the Arrow Wilderness Voyage program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the principles of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service in action.

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 the Voyage

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 1:30 p.m. to allow time to claim luggage on your scheduled start date (June 9, 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28, and Aug 4 are the 2013 session starting dates), and arrives at Charles L. Sommers at approximately 7:00 p.m. (approximately 5 hour trip). If you plan to arrive via plane, you must schedule your arrival no later than 12:30 p.m. into the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The return trip leaves at 7:30 a.m. on your last scheduled day (June 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28, Aug 4, 11, and 18 are the 2013 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.

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

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 Voyage 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, Charles L. Sommers 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 Charles L. Sommers, and individuals within the BWCAW.

  • 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 city of Ely, the Township of Fall Lake, and Charles L. Sommers 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.