Adventures » OA Wilderness Voyage Testimonials
Below are some of the most meaningful and wildest stories from OA Wilderness Voyage. These are firsthand accounts from Arrowmen who have found out exactly what the makes OA Wilderness Voyage so awesome. But to really find out what all the excitement is about, you'll have to go and experience it yourself.
Travis McCormick - Ku-Ni-Eh Lodge - Cincinnati, OH
The Order of the Arrow's Wilderness Voyage offers 2 weeks in a canoe in the Boundary Waters wilderness area of Northern Minnesota. It is relatively inexpensive compared to other high adventure experiences and it is far more than a just a canoe trip - it's a program that changes the lives of each participant. You are placed on a crew composed of Scouts from all over the country. Each crew member has a different scouting background and reason for coming to Minnesota.
The first week of the Voyage is spent maintaining portage trails that have been around for centuries. Trail work is what separates the program from other canoe trips in Minnesota. Scouts learn how to prevent erosion, and to repair trail sections that have been damaged by water. After a week making check dams, water bars, turnpikes, or making gravel, the participants gain a sense of accomplishment knowing that their work has made a lasting difference to the BWCAW. Better trails limit damage to the area around portages and make them easier to pass through. The service the OA Voyage crews provide helps make the outings of thousands of people each year more enjoyable.
The second week of the program is a canoe trip. Scouts plan their own routes and create their own itineraries. In addition to testing their limits, Scouts experience a phenomenal wilderness area. I have seen loons, beavers, otters, deer, moose, bald eagles, and more. Brilliant starry nights, Northern Lights, thunderstorms, and picture perfect weather have their place on each Voyage. The maturity and growth Scouts gain from pushing past their previously imagined limits is incredible. Another facet of the program is the Leave No Trace (LNT) Outdoor Ethic. Learning LNT in such a pristine environment really hits home.
Being on a crew which includes a pair of highly trained and experienced Foremen is a wonderful experience. Often, these two weeks are the longest the participants have ever been away from home. It gives Scouts an opportunity to show what they can do on their own in a new and challenging environment.
I can't speak highly enough of this program; it has changed my life. I have made friends from all corners of the country that I have, and will continue to stay in touch with. Since visiting the Boundary Waters, the trees back home seem a little greener and I am a bit more passionate about everything I do.
Brandon Gething - Lowwapaneu Lodge - Moosic, PA
When I think of the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, I think pure, pristine and untouched. This is where I had the good fortune to spend two weeks during my summer. I signed up for the Order of the Arrow Wilderness Voyage on a chance. A chance that I will never regret for the rest of my life; a chance that has forever changed the way I live. When I first began the program, I was not an avid paddler. I had only paddled a small 10 miles canoe trip with my Boy Scout Troop prior to participating in the program but by the end of the Wilderness Voyage, my paddle would just glide through the water effortlessly and in sync with the other person in the canoe.
The Wilderness Voyage to me is two-fold -- service and fun. During the first week, my crew and I worked to put the finishing touches on a portage trail that had been mostly complete from the prior summer. A portage trail is a trail that is at the lowest point on the landscape that will allow for easy passage between lakes. The voyageurs and fur traders used these very same trails to pass between thousands of lakes in the Boundary Waters. The staff members of the programs, our Foremen, taught us various conservation techniques and how to use equipment such as sledgehammers, rock bars and mattock-type tools. By the time we were finished with our work week, we had moved the tools onto a new portage trail, where future participants would continue the work which we had started. During the second week, we paddled each day to a different place and got to see just a tidbit of what Minnesota has to offer. We went swimming, fishing and even learned how to cook in some of the most primitive ways.
Would I go back for this same experience again? Absolutely! The Wilderness Voyage taught me a lot about myself and even helped me to understand who I am just a little bit better. I am forever a changed young man for doing for participating and I strongly encourage anyone that has the opportunity to do this to take advantage of this opportunity!
Ryan Johnson - Lowwapaneu Lodge - Moosic, PA
Most of you have heard about Philmont, Northern Tier, and Sea Base and have had at least a slight introduction to what the OA has to offer at these sites. For several summers now, the OA has helped keep these bases in pristine condition for Scouts from across the US so that they can witness the full potential and beauty that the camps have to offer. Most Arrowmen that have been through these programs will make statements such as "it has changed my life" or "the best two weeks ever!"; As a past participant of the Wilderness Voyage program in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, it should come as no surprise to you that this program did indeed change my life and they were the best two weeks of my life. It still surprises me that although it's been two years since I've been up north, the Voyage remains crystal clear in my thoughts and the lessons I've learned remain at the forefront of my personal character. I can easily remember the names of the people on my crew, the lakes we traversed upon, and the exact clothes that I was wearing (well we only had two sets of clothes for two weeks). Every aspect of Northern Tier exemplifies what the OA is all about: brotherhood, leadership and service and if I may add a fourth point, to have fun! Each and everyone should take the time to consider spending two weeks at one of these camps because you only have until you are 21, and trust me, it comes faster than you think. You will gain friendships (I still call up Luke from Tennessee) and skills (do you know how to make a water bar or how to throw a canoe onto your shoulders?) and you will have the time of your life (every second in Minnesota). If you would like to know more, please contact me and I would be more than happy to discuss my Voyage with you.
Please use the links below to learn more about the OA Wilderness Voyage program at Northern Tier High Adventure Base.