Created in 1979 as part of the BSA’s National Camping School, Voyageur/Trek Leader certifies adult leaders (minimum participation age is 18) to guide youth groups on wilderness treks in the Adirondacks, traveling by pack or by paddle. It has also become, for many, a profound experience of fellowship and wilderness, a well regarded fixture of Adirondack life, and a successful, growing program of the Boy Scouts of America.
As Scouting is the program’s sponsor, certified Voyaguers often serve in Scout Camps, making Scouting and its approach to working with youth a significant component of the program.
But participation in Voyageur is not limited to Scouters working in camp. The outdoor and leadership skills taught in the program are universally applicable. Students, outdoor professionals, and youth leaders have come to Voyageur from outdoor programs across the country. Today, the nearly 500 graduates of Voyageur include Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, YMCA/YWCA volunteers, Appalachian Trail Club members, graduates of the National Outdoor Leadership School and Wilderness Education Association, and many, many others who are simply interested in doing something new in the woods with like-minded people.
The program begins with three days of intensive classroom learning at an Adirondack Scout Camp. This time is focused on navigation by map and compass, canoeing, first aid and emergency procedures, Leave No Trace principles and other hard skills. Equal emphasis is placed on teaching, leadership and interpersonal skills necessary to maximize the wilderness experience for a youth group.
These skills are then applied on a four day canoe/ backpacking trip, during which the program’s instructors evaluate the abilities of each student and determine whether they possess the skills and judgment needed to lead young people on safe, fun treks. Participants will have opportunities on-the-trail to teach hard skills, develop a workable group dynamic, live comfortably, and respond to emergencies.
As most of the instructors have children of their own, they apply the same standard to everyone: Would I send my children into the wilderness with this person?
Graduates of Voyageur are certified by the Boy Scouts of America to lead youth groups from a Scout Camp on treks in the public backcountry for five (5) camping seasons.
Graduates also receive a distinctive red touque, and by doing so join a great tradition of the French Canadian Voyageur, the greatest European wilderness traveler, who paddled from French Canada on the grand waterways of North America to trade with the Native American tribes.
We share the first Voyageurs’ love for wilderness travel and the bond that unites us animates a volunteer spirit that keeps the present day Voyageurs active and connected throughout the year. Among the year’s highlights is our annual Rendezvous in August, when Voyageurs gather in the Adirondacks to camp together, sing and tell tales.