Skip to content

2015 Summer Staff Openings at Northern Tier

March 17, 2015

Paddle.  Portage.  Get Paid. 

You’ll be challenged.  You’ll be inspired.  You’ll make a difference in someone’s life.

Northern Tier is a National High Adventure Program of the Boy Scouts of America with locations in Ely, MN,  Atikokan, ON, and Bissett, MB.  We offer 6-14 day, fully outfitted, guided, wilderness canoe treks for Scouts, Venturers, and Leaders. Northern Tier relies heavily on quality to staff to provide a meaningful program on the trail and great support on base.  Paid internships are available.  Northern Tier is willing and able to help you customize your experience to meet the needs of your program.  Let us know how we can help.

Come deliver wilderness experiences that last a lifetime!

Positions Available

  • Interpreter – Formerly referred to as a guide, this person works primarily with the participants on their 6-14 day trips.  They provide crews with an orientation and outdoor skills training, and area resource to the crew for safety purposes, environmental awareness and historical background.
  • Trading Post – Retail sales for both trail and souvenir items.
    • Food Service – Prepare meals for both on base and trail.
    • Maintenance – Assist in the maintenance of the base.  See additional details.
What is provided?
  • Community living – room and board
  • Two weeks of intensive paid staff training
  • Certification in Wilderness First Aid and CPR
  • Gear use including pack, tent, PFD, etc.
  • It is helpful to have paddling and outdoor experience, however the most important qualification is the ability to work well with people.
  • Most positions begin in late May and end in mid-August.
  • At least 18-years of age.
Past Staff Stories
  • “I truly feel like the summer of 2013 has been the best summer I have ever had. I will hold on to these memories until the end of my days!”  – Ethan Hardy.
  • “This summer Up North has been the best yet!  I can’t wait to share it with my brother and parents in a few days.” – Jacob White.

Applications available at  For more information, call 218-365-4811, or email:

Top 5 merit badges for a spring break staycation

March 6, 2015

For Scouts and Venturers, spring break often means a supertrip — a weeklong outing that wouldn’t be possible over a weekend.

But what about those Scouts staying home? They can still find time for Scouting, if they choose, by completing some spring break-friendly merit badge requirements.

Here are five merit badges for making the most out of a spring break staycation.

Each one has requirements Scouts could earn during their school-free week, and all are waymore fun than doing homework.

Know of some I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Salesmanship-MB5. Salesmanship

Spring break trips — to the beach or to the slopes — can be pricy. But rather than destroying the piggy bank for a week of frivolity, an enterprising Scout might try to fill his coffers instead.

If he earns Salesmanship merit badge, he’ll learn the self-confidence, motivation, friendliness and persistence needed to pull in some cold, hard cash.

For example, check out requirement 5B: “Sell your services such as lawn raking or mowing, pet watching, dog walking, snow shoveling and car washing to your neighbors. Follow up after the service has been completed and determine the customer’s satisfaction.”

Who knows? He may be able to fund next year’s spring break trip this year.

Astronomy-MB4. Astronomy

This one’s tailor made for the night owls.

Working on Astronomy merit badge during spring break means Scouts can stay up stargazing as long as they want — without suffering any ill effects at school the next day.

Maybe he’ll use the free time to plan and participate in a three-hour observation session (requirement 8B) or star party (requirement 8C).

Or perhaps he’ll make a nightly check-in with the moon for requirement 6B: “Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon, at the same hour and place, for four days in a row.”

Golf-MB3. Golf

Is sun in the forecast? What better time than spring break for earning Golf merit badge?

Since us working stiffs have to be in the office all week, the golf courses of America should be refreshingly wide open for Scouts to swing away.

Once they’ve learned the rules and proper techniques, Scouts earning Golf merit badge complete the greatest requirement of all, requirement 8: “Play a minimum of two nine-hole rounds or one 18-hole round of golf with another golfer about your age and with your counselor, or an adult approved by your counselor.”


Chess-MB2. Chess

Is rain or snow in the forecast? Here’s a merit badge that’s fun in any weather.

Chess merit badge is more than just seeing who can checkmate their opponent first. It covers a variety of winning tactics, including some I’ve never heard of: clearance sacrifice, decoy, discovered attack, double attack, fork, interposing, overloading, overprotecting, pin, remove the defender, skewer, zwischenzug.

Spring break offers a nice opportunity for Scouts to gather and complete requirement 6C: “Organize and run a chess tournament with at least four players, plus you. Have each competitor play at least two games.” Set up the board, pop some popcorn and get playing.

But be warned, chess-playing parents: Once your Scout earns this one, he’ll be tough to beat.

Model-Design-and-Building-MB1. Model Design and Building

Why spend spring break merely watching sci-fi movies when you could create something that might appear in one?

That’s Model Design and Building merit badge, and requirement 5 is awesome: “Build a special-effects model of a fantasy spacecraft that might appear in a Hollywood science-fiction movie. Determine an appropriate scale for your design—one that makes practical sense. Include a cockpit or control area, living space, storage unit, engineering spaces, and propulsion systems.”

That could be one of the BSA’s greatest — and least-known — merit badge requirements.

What else?

What other merit badges make sense for spring breakers? Let me know in the comments.

Other “top 5 merit badges” posts

Looking for others in my “Top 5 merit badges” series? Click here.

Posted on March 6, 2015 by in Merit Badges, Top 5 merit badges

7 things I learned about the new Cub Scout program by listening to the latest CubCast

March 5, 2015

cubcast-logoJune 1’s launch of the new Cub Scout program is approaching fast.

Feeling less than prepared? The CubCast team hears you. That’s why in the March 2015 edition the hosts and their guest discuss how Cubmasters and den leaders can get ready for the new Cub Scout program.

Talk about perfect timing.

The guest: Ken King, a volunteer from the Three Fires Council in St. Charles, Ill. King was a member of the task force that conceived and designed the new Cub Scout program materials that will be released in May and become active on June 1, 2015. (Bryan on Scouting readersshould remember King’s name.)

You really should take 14 minutes to listen to the March 2015 CubCast. These podcasts keep getting better and better and have become essential listening for Scout leaders.

Still need convincing? Check out seven things I learned about the new Cub Scout program by listening.

7. The program materials debut May 1.

That’ll give you plenty of time to check out the actual materials you’ll use with your Cub Scouts. (You can also see a ton of content now at the BSA’s Program Updates page.)

“Pick up a copy of the youth handbook that you’ll be working with and the den leader guide that you’ll need and spend some time reviewing,” King says, “because the den leader guide will map out how to deliver a den meeting in great detail.”

6. The new Cub Scout program will cost the same (or maybe less).

This should please a lot of you.

“The number of adventure loops required is approximately the same as the number of academic and sports loops that are earned by boys right now,” King says. “The new program won’t be appreciably different, and some calculations suggest it will be a little bit less than what it is right now.”

5. You won’t need a ton of extra materials.

You “don’t need to buy additional resources — things like the Group Meeting Sparklers, the Cub Scout Songbook, (and) the How-to Book of Cub Scouting,” King says. “They’re all still available as extra resource materials, but everything is contained in one single den leader guide.”

4. Overall pack meeting structure will look the same.

You’ll “be familiar with it,” King says. You’ve “had experience with pack meetings but, some things we’ve developed to help them be more successful is we have a team that’s putting together new pack meeting plans.”

So it’s the same, only a lot better.

3. There are more opportunities for immediate recognition.

Cub Scout-age boys love instant recognition. That’s been a standard at den meetings, and now it’s more true at pack meetings, too.

“There’s also more opportunities for recognition during pack meetings,” King says, “depending on how the pack wants to organize that, boys can be recognized consistently, which will encourage them to be involved in the pack meetings and bring their families in to celebrate their successes.”

2. The transition from old to new is actually really easy.

“Starting on June 1, if you’re a new Tiger, a Wolf, Bear, or starting the Webelos program, just use the new program materials that are in the handbooks and materials,” King says. “They’re designed to make it easy to use, and when they finish their current level of program, they can just step into the next step without any problem.”

Easy is good.

1. Boys working on Arrow of Light can use new or old.

Options are good.

“Boys that’ll be working on their Arrow of Light” later this year have two choices, King says. “They can keep using the current program, or they have the additional option that they can apply some of their previously earned Webelos-level recognitions and their activity badges; some of those can be used for advancement in the new system.”

Hear or read the March 2015 CubCast

This list is just the beginning. Hear the full CubCast here. Or read it here.

Posted on March 5, 2015 by in Cub Scouting

Tuesday Talkback: Does your troop have an adult patrol?

March 3, 2015

Boy Scouts belong to patrols; Boy Scout leaders don’t.

These adults fall outside of the typical troop structure in which a senior patrol leader helms a group of patrols, each led by a patrol leader.

But in some troops, just for fun, these adults form their own patrol — if in name only. In some troops, they’re called the Geezer patrol. In others, perhaps in a nod to an adult leader’s place on the sidelines, they’re known as the Rocking Chair patrol.

Should troops have adult patrols? If so, what makes a good name for an unofficial adult patrol? And what’s the BSA’s official stance on adult patrols?

Let’s talk.

The BSA’s stance on adult patrols

Here’s the official response from the BSA’s Peter Self. As usual from Peter, it’s nuanced and well-crafted.

Baden-Powell was once quoted as saying, “The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.” As patrols are formed, it is intended that their membership will remain together throughout their Scouting years. Beginning as a new Scout patrol, they become a tightly knit unit, which is dependent upon one another and yet finds strength and independence in their brotherhood. It is in the safety and camaraderie of the patrol that lessons of leadership and cooperation are learned from each other. The patrol name and the emblem which reflects that name are two of the ways that this group uniquely identifies itself.

While adult leaders are invaluable and necessary in this growth process, they need to be accessible to each of the Scouts, in every patrol, and not insulated from the Scouts in their own tight group. For this reason you will not find mention of adult patrols in our literature and why we do not form our adult leaders into patrols in the course of our normal program operations.

Having said all of this, there is no specific statement in our literature which prohibits adults from wearing a patrol emblem, but if you compare closely the pictures of the Boy Scout uniform to the adult leader uniforms on the last two pages of the Guide to Awards and Insignia, you’ll notice only a few differences. One of these is the absence of a patrol emblem on the adult uniform.

So while adult patrols aren’t an official part of the BSA’s program, nobody is going to stop you from forming one. Especially if it’s a name and little else.

Oh, and there’s no uniform police that will rip the patrol emblem from your adult leader uniform, either.

With that in mind…

Does your troop have an adult patrol? If so, what’s it called?

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, let’s continue the conversation in the comments section.

Questions for discussion:

  • Should troops have adult patrols?
  • If so, what role should adult patrols serve?
  • What are some of your favorite names for adult patrols? (I’m partial to the Rocking Chair patrol myself.)

Posted on March 3, 2015 by in Boy Scouting, Tuesday Talkbacks // 46 Comments

Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge requirements released

February 26, 2015
For decades, teens have used their own language — one of emojis, shorthand and coded messages passed in school hallways — to communicate without words.

And now, for the first time, those skills could translate into a merit badge. Today the Boy Scouts of America officially releases Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge, the BSA’s 135th current merit badge. (You can see the complete list here.) Look for the merit badge pamphlet in your local Scout Shop and at soon.

Requirement 9c is one straight out of 2015. It asks Scouts to discuss text-message symbols, also known as emoticons or emojis, and share their 10 favorites. Then comes the fun part: “see if your counselor or parent can identify the meaning or usage of each symbol.”

Think you know what all those symbols mean, mom or dad? Get ready to prove it to your Scouts.

Signs, Signals and Codes merit badge isn’t just about emojis. Read more of this post

Bryan Wendell | February 26, 2015 at 8:00 am | Categories: Merit Badges | URL:

Venturer shares ‘5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me’

February 24, 2015

LydiaLydia G., a 17-year-old Venturer from Virginia, is active in her church and community, but when people learn she’s a Venturer, they sometimes ask, “What is that?”

Venturing, she tells them, is a youth program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and young women who are at least 14 (or 13 and finished with the eighth grade) but not yet 21. It’s all about providing positive, fun experiences for young people.

“We are unique in the fact that we are youth led,” she tells them. “We plan what we want our adventures to be, and then we plan how we are going to get there.”

But then they ask what she’s learned from participating in Scouting.

That’s when Lydia, who has earned the Venturing TRUST Award, shares this terrific piece of writing with them. It’s called “5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me,” and it’s a nice reminder that what you do as an adult volunteer matters. The proof exists in young people like Lydia.

5 Things Scouting Has Taught Me

By Lydia G.

1. Scouting has taught me what respect and equality can look like.

As a Venturer, every time I put on my uniform, I am more than a female or tagalong sibling. I am a Scout. As such, I am treated as an equal in most Scouting environments, even if I am one of the only females. I work hard and I play hard, right along with every other Scout.

2. Scouting has taught me to know who I am and to be true to myself.

I have been challenged in all of my awards that I have earned thus far to know exactly what I believe and why. This covers everything from my personal faith to why I do what I do in everyday living.

3. Scouting has taught me to get out of my “bubble.”

Sometimes it has taught me this despite myself, but it is something I value. I have never gone to a Scout event or earned an award and not been faced with opposition or trying circumstances. It challenges me to look at things differently, to be flexible, and in all things: DO MY BEST!

4. Scouting has taught me to savor the little things in life that I often ignore.

There is honestly nothing more breathtaking than a colorful sunset or sunrise painted by God. There is nothing more peaceful than gazing at the stars in all their glory. There is nothing more satisfying than realizing you made it through a trying day, and it feels amazing. And there is nothing sweeter than knowing you are part of something.

5. Scouting has taught me the value of teamwork.

No, this is not some new novelty to me, but if you have ever seen a group of Scouts work together, you know exactly what I am talking about. The class clowns and valedictorians, the band kids and the athletes, the CEOs and the janitors, the “well-off” and the “barely making it.” People from different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures, all coming under the “umbrella” of Scouting to get something accomplished. Whether that be planning a Scout meeting or putting into motion a summer camp. We work hard, and we play hard….as a TEAM!

In conclusion, Scouting has taught me many life lessons, more by example than instruction. These are things that no money or class could ever teach me; they are things I value. I would hope that I would continue to learn from being involved in Scouting and that I would be able to teach more by example than instruction.
Posted by Bryan Wendell February 24, 2015,  Bryan on Scouting Blog

UP Conservation Scholarship

February 13, 2015


As part of Earth Day, Union Pacific is offering four scholarships worth $500 each to support conservation projects that high school students complete in their communities. Conservation initiatives can include (but aren’t limited to) projects such as building bird houses or bat houses to improving an arboretum or a trail.

Deadline to apply is April 15, 2015.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,318 other followers