Comprised of more than two million acres, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and adjacent Quetico Provincial Park of Canada form one of the world’s premier canoe wildernesses. Most Camp Voyageur trips journey within the pristine Boundary Waters. We walk the portage trails the Ojibwa people carved around foaming Basswood River rapids, and clear waters of Lac La Croix and Knife Lakes.

We travel in small, efficient groups, seldom larger than seven people. Returning campers over age 14 may elect to paddle into the primitive waters of the Quetico or retrace the odyssey of French Voyageurs from Camp to Lake Superior, culminating by crossing the 8.5-mile Grand Portage.

What’s it like?

A typical day on a wilderness canoe trip starts at about 7 a.m. when the trip leader awakens the crew of 4 to 6 teen and preteen boys. They roll up their inflatable pads, stuff sleeping bags into their packs, brush their teeth, and change out of their pajamas before helping with group chores like taking down the tents, cooking breakfast, and packing gear.

The boys begin paddling at 9 a.m., traversing lakes, rivers, and pieces of land connecting waterways, called portages. The crew may stop to fish, hike to an overlook, view pictographs, find historical artifacts, or swim in a waterfall. The trip leader guides using waterproof maps until the kids learn and take over navigating.

Around 12:30 p.m., the crew finds a shady island or place along the shoreline for lunch which usually is either a Slamwich made with sausage and cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Trail mix and water complement the meals.

The crew paddles a few more miles and begins looking for the “perfect” campsite with a nice view, large trees to provide shade, flat areas for tents, big benches around the fire pit, minimal bugs, and good fishing. They unpack, set up tents, and gather firewood before fishing, swimming, playing cards, or reading in a hammock. The Big Man (learn more about ranks), typically the oldest camper on the trip, cooks Mac and Cheese over a fire with popcorn and cheesecake for dessert. The team recounts the day around the campfire and takes turns cleaning the dishes. When bedtime rolls around at 9:30 p.m., the soothing sounds of loons and water lull the crew into a deep sleep.

What gear do kids need?

The Voyageur packing list contains the items necessary for Camp. All clothes for wilderness trips, or “the trail”, must be synthetic, quick-drying, and not cotton (except pajamas). Camping requires an investment in good quality gear. Either purchase quality gear at a reputable vendor or borrow from a friend or family member.

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Set of trail clothes (they will get wet):

  • Billed hat, sunglasses with neck strap
  • T-shirt
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Underpants
  • Pants
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking or athletic shoes (sturdy, dry easily, provide foot support, no open water shoes)
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These items are packed into a 20- to 35-liter roll-top dry bag/sack (Sea to Summit or other popular brand):

  • Synthetic sleeping bag (rated 40°f, stuffs to the size of a basketball)
  • Inflatable sleeping pad (no rolled foam)
  • Thin stocking cap
  • Pajamas (long sleeve shirt, underpants, pants)
  • Thin fleece jacket
  • 2 pair wool socks
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • LED headlamp
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These items are stuffed inside portage packs when not in use:

  • Quality rain jacket
  • Crocs
  • 1 Liter Nalgene water bottle
  • Plastic cup, plastic bowl, and plastic spoon
  • Mosquito head net, pocket-size insect repellant
  • (Optional) Fishing rod, reel, tackle
  • (Optional) Fishing license for boys over 16