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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How old do I have to be to go on a canoe trip?

Youths older than 12 years, or who have finished the 6th grade, are welcome. Younger Scouts may want to attend summer camp at our or their home council. Find out more at our council's website:

Can adults go on a canoe trip?

Yes, adults who are part of a Girl Scout troop are welcome to go on a canoe trip. We also offer all-women trips, which can be really wonderful experiences.

Can adult men go on a canoe trip?

Yes, adult men who are part of a Girl Scout troop are welcome to go on a canoe trip.

Can youths identifying as boys go on a canoe trip?

Our program is not designed for all-male or mixed-gender groups. Youths identifying as girls or nongendered youths are welcome to go on a canoe trip. We can recommend as excellent options Boy Scouts of America's Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base,  also on Moose Lake, or the YMCA of the North's Camp Widjiwagan, north of Ely, MN, for youths identifying as boys.

Do I have to be a Girl Scout to go on a canoe trip?

You don't need to be a Girl Scout to sign up for a canoe trip. If you are not a Girl Scout now, you will register when you sign up. That means paying the annual membership fee of $45 for youths or $25 for adults. All of our participants must be registered Girl Scouts.

How much does a canoe trip cost?

It's important that Girl Scout canoe trips are affordable. See 2024 costs below:

 Trip Length
 2024 Cost
 4 Days (first day on base, 3 days on water)
 6 Days (first day on base, 5 days on water)  $455
 8 Days (first day on base, 7 days on water)  $565
 11 Days (first day on base, 10 days on water)  $740

Girl Scout canoe trip costs are inclusive. You only need to provide the equipment on your Packing List. If you can't borrow these items, shop for them at secondhand or thrift stores to keep your costs down, but please make sure they fit you properly. The canoe base also has a stock of wet boots, trail clothes, raingear, and sleeping bags, but you will want to reach out to the Summer Director in advance of your trip before depending on these supplies.

You will also need to arrange your transport to and from the canoe base 17 miles outside of Ely, MN, except for Destinations trips, which meet in Duluth, MN. We may be able to coordinate getting participants from area airports or bus stations to and from the canoe base.

Scholarship funding is also available to cover trip costs for those in financial need. Contact Melissa Garza, the Director of Property & Program at our council to apply:

Can I bring Tevas or Chacos?

Keeping our feet protected is essential in wilderness travel, so there is no time during our trips when we wear sandals. During the travel day we wear wet boots with sufficient support, ankle coverage, and good soles, and tennis shoes around camp. Nam boots, available at Army-Navy surplus stores, or Merrell Moab Midhikers are good models to look for; synthetic uppers are better than leather, and vented insoles are a good feature. Make sure they fit you with a nice, thick pair of wool or synthetic hiking socks. Let us know if you have trouble getting ahold of a pair of wet boots, and we will try to fit you with a pair from our stock on base. 

I usually paddle in a bathing suit. Why do I need long pants and long sleeves?

Safety in the wilderness means protecting ourselves from vegetation and sunburn. Minor injuries can become bigger problems, and sunburn can lead to dehydration, exhaustion, and having a bad time. It's better to keep ourselves in good shape with protective clothing.

What kind of sleeping bag should I bring?

The ideal bag is mummy-shaped rather than rectangular and stuffed with synthetic insulation. A down-stuffed bag would also be fine, though down would be less effective at keeping you warm if it got wet. We do take precautions to keep dry gear dry, however, which rarely fail. You may choose to bring a synthetic-stuffed, rectangular bag, but a cotton/flannel bag is not suitable. Let us know if you have trouble getting ahold of a suitable sleeping bag, and we will make sure we have one for you to use. 

Can I bring my own paddle, backpack, or tent?

Sure! You are welcome to bring equipment in addition to the Packing List, and your guide can evaluate it. However, we provide all this gear.

I love the canoe base! How do I get to be a guide?

We want our participants to grow into guiding! That's why we offer a Guide-in-Training (GIT) program for 16- and 17-year-olds. We can accommodate 5-8 GITs each in two sessions of about five weeks. GITs are in the best position to become guides, learning the culture of the canoe base. The program exposes GITs to working with different guides, so you can learn different ways of doing things. GITs meet different people on our crews, learning to interact constructively. Girl Scout guides are enthusiastic, responsible, experienced, and positive, and you need time to become one of these goddesses! 

GITs pay a fee of $250 per summer, and usually spend two summers at the canoe base before applying to be a guide. You will need to arrange transport to the Minneapolis or Duluth airport, or to the canoe base; we often coordinate pickups and dropoffs with participants or other staff. GITs are supervised by adult staff. Talk to the Summer Director about becoming a GIT.

I've never been a GIT, or even gone on a canoe trip! Can I be a guide?

Yes! The canoe base has hired many a guide new to the Boundary Waters. You will want to have some outdoor experience, including camping, hiking, building fires, using cookstoves, cooking, and leading youth, because there is lots more to learn. Guides are trained by experienced staff, including returning guides. Guides arrange to bring certifications in Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and Red Cross Lifeguarding. The season of employment is negotiable arround college schedules. Contact Melissa Garza, the Director of Program & Property at our council, for more details:

What does the Northern Lakes Canoe Base Alumni Association (NLCBAA) do?

The Northern Lakes Canoe Base program has been operating for more than 60 years, mostly through the agency of a few key guides committed to the mission of bringing young women into the wilderness for the life-changing experiences that build confidence, courage, and companionship. The alumni association was organized in 2006 to carry on this commitment into our future. While our council, the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines Council, operates the canoe base, the alumni association works as an auxiliary to support the program. For example, the NLCBAA subsidizes guide salaries and travel costs, organizes work weekends at the canoe base to address maintenance, and helps the council plan and implement property improvements. Recently, the NLCBAA has overseen the construction of a new building to house equipment and a covered drying rack for PFDs (also known as lifejackets). We maintain local contacts that make the canoe base a part of the outfitting and youth adventure community. We maintain a network of donor contacts who believe in the program. We connect former guides and their families, friends of the base, and community members.

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