Boy Scout trips into BWCA Quetico from Ely, Minnesota

Youth Groups

North Country Canoe Outfitters arranges High Adventure canoe trips for hundreds of Boy Scout troops, church youth groups, high school classes, and sport teams each season into the Boundary Waters Canoe area of Minnesota and Quetico Park of Ontario Canada. Our files contain dozens of thank you letters from satisfied adult leaders and youth members of past trips.

The advantage of using a private outfitting company is the flexibility offered. We start and end trips every day with you. We work with you to plan a trip itinerary that fits the ages and expertise of your youth, you lead your own trip -- the way you want it to be, a trip can be any length of time, we can help you arrange service projects, and you may bring some of your own gear.

What We Do

The Boundary Waters and Quetico Park are "friendly" wilderness areas, and yet sometimes pose insurmountable obstacles to the uninformed and novice visitor. We are here to guide you with the highest degree of professionalism, and good old fashion honesty and integrity. We provide invaluable assistance in securing the required governmental permits (US or Canadian), transportation to & from outlying landings, route suggestions, and general background information on the area (no one is more familiar with the BWCA than we are -- we live here and have traveled the many lakes and streams).

We professionally provide your group with canoes and equipment designed specifically for this area. Much of today's "high tech" backpacking equipment is not suited to canoe country travel. Conversely, canoe camping equipment tends to be single purpose gear: ideal for canoeing, but not well suited for other types of camping.

We teach all youth groups how to use our lightweight canoe trip equipment before the canoe tripMaking sure everyone knows how to use the equipment is an important part of our pre-trip service.  Here, a Scout learns how to pick up a canoe for portage.

We were one of the first to be granted full outfitting operations under federal permit by the US Forest Service. We are one of only two outfitters in Ely that have also been granted an outfitting/guiding license in Canada. These permits assure you of quality outfitting and full insurance coverage, under an annual review process. As the industry leader, dealing with the newest equipment we are the only outfitter to offer all of the following advantages:

  1. We offer ONLY ultra-Lightweight Outfitting.
  2. Our main base is located on a strategic lake (versus "in town on the main street"). We have water access to 3 entry points from our docks.
  3. We offer land transportation to all BWCA Entry Points in the greater Ely area.
  4. We offer private dorm style bunk rooms for lakeside accommodations before and after your trip.
  5. We offer fly-in canoe trips directly from our docks.

And  when you return from your  trip you can leave behind the dirty gear that needs cleaning and requires storage space. All you  need to bring to Ely is your personal clothing & fishing tackle, along with your spirit of adventure. Many scout troops usually leave their own gear home and avail themselves of the quality and convenience of North Country Canoe Outfitters.

THE SINGLE REASON that most of our customers chose us to outfit their trip, is individual service. We make every effort to match your trip expectations to the areas and lakes. We pick your entry point and design your trip route around you; we don't fit you into an "off the shelf" trip that is convenient for us.

Pricing Overview

North Country Canoe Outfitters offers  discounts (45% to 55% off) from our regular canoe trip pricing to non-profit youth groups.


  • The party must be traveling under the official auspices of a church, a public or private school, or a national not-for-profit youth organization such as the Boy Scouts of America or Youth for Christ.
  • The party must be have at least eight people. We have no maximum party size limitation. (NOTE: The US Forest Service and Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources have restrictions on the number of people that may travel and camp together, but these rules have nothing to do with our non-profit youth group pricing practices.)
  • The party may have no more than 50% of its members be 18 years of age or older.

Our minimum Youth Group party size is eight persons. Sample costs for complete outfitting, including all food & equipment, range from $380 down to $297 per person (depending on total group size, and starting day of the week) for a six-day on-the-water trip. Of course, we offer trips of shorter and longer durations.


Commercial outfitters like NCCO use "calendar days on the water" when figuring the length of a canoe trip. Be sure to take this into consideration when looking at rates. The Northern Tier Scout Base counts the arrival day and departure day as one day (there's nothing wrong with this, it is just different from all of the commercial outfitters). In-other-words, what North Country calls a 6-day trip is the same number of days on the water as what Northern Tier calls a 7-Day trip.