Circle of Discipline Outdoor Adventure: A first-time Boundary Waters experience

Aug 2, 2022
Ethan Brown
Circle of Discipline trip attendees pose together for a photo in their Save the Boundary Waters t-shirts

Each summer, the Boundary Waters provides many people with unparalleled first-time Wilderness experiences.

During late June 2022, six teenagers and their chaperones journeyed from Minneapolis to the edge of the Boundary Waters in Ely, MN, and joined the list of those influenced by America’s most-visited Wilderness.

Circle of Discipline, a Twin Cities-based organization aimed at empowering underrepresented communities, recently organized and hosted its 4-day Outdoor Adventure program on Birch Lake in Ely. The camping trip was sponsored by a Save the Boundary Waters grant program that supports groups and individuals facing barriers to outdoor recreation and advocacy.

Upon arrival in Ely, the group made their way to our headquarters. While there, they engaged in hands-on learning about the history of the Boundary Waters, the dangers of toxic sulfide-ore copper mining proposed near the Wilderness, and the importance of permanent Boundary Waters protections.

With camping equipment provided by Ely Outfitting Company, the COD Outdoor Adventure participants then made their way to a Birch Lake campground and got set up. From their site, the group was able to see the proposed location for Twin Metals’ mine and directly experience the natural area that would be damaged by a risky copper mine.

Throughout the weekend, the group took trips to the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center, where they learned about critical members of the Boundary Waters ecosystem and wildlife conservation efforts.

During the final day of the COD Outdoor Adventure, trip participants braved the rainy weather and ventured out onto Birch Lake in their canoes for a day of fishing and paddling — a first for many! This provided the teenagers and chaperones an opportunity to experience the untouched beauty of the Boundary Waters region firsthand and understand the importance of preserving wild spaces.

The COD Outdoor Adventure participants listed canoeing, fishing, and their visit to the North American Bear Center as trip highlights. And while managing the bugs of northeastern Minnesota is always a challenge during the summer, all six teens said they enjoyed the weekend and showed interest in the prospect of another COD-organized Fall camping trip.

To learn more about Circle of Discipline’s mission and to keep up with their efforts, head over to their website or follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Visit the Save the Boundary Waters Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice page to see stories from other grantees and keep up with our initiatives.