Supporters raise their paddles at the launch event for Amy and Dave Freeman's Year in the Wilderness.

Adventure Advocacy

Dave and Amy Freeman pose for a picture in the BWCAW with their paddles during their Year in the Wilderness.

What is adventure advocacy?

Adventure advocacy is simply raising awareness for a cause through an adventure! National Geographic explorers Dave and Amy Freeman, seen here during their Year in the Wilderness, are some of the most well-known adventure advocates for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters; however, there have been a variety of incredible people who have used adventure advocacy to raise awareness around the proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Alex Falconer poses next to a BWCAW entry sign on the first run of his trail-run traversal of the Boundary Waters.

Why do adventure advocacy? 

Adventure advocacy is a unique way to use your passion for adventure to raise awareness for a good cause. It also is a great way to gain exposure for the cause. You'll find more information below about many remarkable adventure advocacy projects in support of the Boundary Waters, including press coverage, documentaries, and stories from the advocates themselves.

Adventures Supporting the Boundary Waters


Elijah Greiner, Amos Kolodji, Josh Lambert, Jackie McDougall, Hunter Oliver, and Chrissy Turk are a group of six friends who met leading scout groups in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The group shares a passion for getting outside and growing from interacting with the natural world around them. On June 15, 2022, they will begin their expedition at Grand Portage on the shore of Lake Superior. From there they plan to paddle approximately 1,200 miles over the course of roughly 80 days through American and Canadian wilderness, finishing at the historic York Factory in the Hudson Bay. Along the way, they'll paddle through the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park, Lake Winnipeg, and the Hayes River. They look forward to developing as outdoors people and friends, as well as having the chance to immerse themselves so deeply in some of the world’s premier canoe country — all while raising awareness about the need to permanently protect the Boundary Waters!

Check out their blog to learn more about the group's upcoming trip.

In 2019, our Government Affairs Director, Alex Falconer, decided to combine two of his greatest passions (running and the Boundary Waters) to try something no one has done before. Although the Boundary Waters is often known for its pristine canoeing, Alex had a vision to run through this Wilderness Area consisting of over 1,200 lakes. 

Listen to Alex discuss his running adventures on WTIP podcast.

Swim for the Boundary Waters is a multi-year open-water swimming and paddling expedition along the BWCA/Canada border to celebrate and protect the BWCA. This self-supported team of 2 swimmers and 2 support crew took part in a 12-day 80-to-90-mile canoe-and-swim expedition of the Boundary Waters.

Read about their adventure here.

swimming in a wilderness lake


Once returning from living in the Boundary Waters for one year, Amy and Dave Freeman determined that a traditional book tour wasn’t for them and decided to partake in a bit more adventure advocacy to promote their book while continuing to raise awareness for the proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters. On April 22, 2018, they set out from Ely, MN to bike to Washington, D.C. on a bike-book tour for their new book “A Year in the Wilderness.” Not only did they bike from Ely to D.C., they also pulled a canoe behind them the whole way and collected signatures as they went. They arrived in Washington, D.C. on June 18th, 2018 and met with elected officials to share the importance of permanently protecting the Boundary Waters.

In 2018, Kate and Adam Eskuri signed up to run the 2018 Boston Marathon. Instead of just running the race, they created a GoFund me fundraiser to make the race represent something even bigger. They had a goal to raise awareness for the proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters, as well as to raise $100 per mile that they were running.

On September 23, 2015, Dave and Amy Freeman embarked on a yearlong adventure in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters’ efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on the Wilderness edge. On September 23, 2016, they returned after 366 days. Since they departed on their Year in the Wilderness, Dave and Amy camped at approximately 120 different sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. In 2014, Dave and Amy traveled by canoe and sailboat from Ely to Washington, DC, on the Paddle to DC as a first step in their efforts to protect the Wilderness.

Listen to the Freemans discuss their adventure advocacy projects on this Dirtbag Diaries podcast

On August 9, 2015, Kathleen Ferraro began a thru-hike of the Superior Hiking Trail. Kathleen decided to hike in support of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and use her hike as a chance to educate people about the risk posed to the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining. 

Read Kathleen’s blogs here:

On April 2, 2015 three dedicated young women: Erin, Iggy and Lisa -- wilderness guides from Voyageur Outward Bound School near Ely --began a journey of adventure advocacy across Minnesota stopping at colleges and communities along the way, to raise awareness about the threat to the Boundary Waters' clean water, clean air and forest landscape from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining on its wilderness edge. On May 10, 2015, the riders completed their journey of 850 miles over 39 days and celebrated in Ely, MN, which is at the edge of the Boundary Waters.

Read their notes from the road here.

In 2014, Dave and Amy Freeman paddled and sailed on a 101-day, 2,000-mile journey from Ely, Minnesota, to Washington, D.C., to call attention to a proposed sulfide-ore copper mining operation threatening the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Freemans departed Ely by canoe on August 24, 2014, and arrived in Washington, D.C., on December 2, 2014. They made stops in communities along the way, participating in events such as the September 5-7 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in Duluth. In Washington, D.C., they participated in a press conference and co-hosted the Youth Outdoor Collaborative, a wilderness and outdoors youth engagement event for nearly 150 area elementary and middle school students.


Want to do your own adventure advocacy project?