Wilderness Kit logoThe BWCA Wilderness Kit is an engaging, hands-on curriculum designed for middle school-aged youth. It introduces them to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and helps them explore and discover the wonders of this million-acre wilderness area. This energizing curriculum includes all necessary materials, notably exciting games, colorful maps, and age-appropriate activities.

The kit teaches about the history, science, and social science of one of Minnesota’s most treasured resources. This clear, easy to follow kit was developed with educator involvement and teacher review, and includes instructor background materials and reference sheets. Use of this kit varies from 50 minutes to five hours. The BWCA Wilderness Kit was created by the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Superior National Forest. (View the Kit’s introduction).

Wilderness Kit photo

Unit One: What is Wilderness?
This unit focuses on what makes a place a “wilderness.” Participants discuss or vote on what particular objects, sounds, and images belong in a wilderness. They are introduced to the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Wilderness Act of 1964. Participants then determine how the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness fits into the criteria of a federally designated wilderness area. (View unit components: Primer Cards; and Wilderness Signs.)

Unit Two: How Diverse is Biodiverse?
This unit explores the concept of ecosystems. Using teams, participants decide what species survive and thrive in the five ecosystems of the BWCAW. Participants combine their ideas and analyze patterns they notice. The final discussion relates these connections to the importance of diversity within an ecosystem. (View unit components: Game Board; and Species Cards.)

Unit Three: The Changing Forest
This lesson concentrates on how forests in the BWCAW change over time. Through role-playing and games participants learn the idea of forest succession and the importance of different disturbances impacting a forest. (View unit components: Timeline; Station Signs; Character Cards; Drought Cards; Fire Cards; Human Cards; Insect Cards; and Wind Cards.)

Unit Four: People of the Boundary Waters
Participants form teams to become “experts” on a particular user group of the Boundary Waters: the Ojibwe; the Voyageur; the Logger; and the Modern Visitor. Teams learn about their specific character’s use of, and impact on, the Boundary Waters. Participants then “test” their knowledge in the Paddler’s Game! (View unit components: Game Board; Game Spinner; Paddlers Cards; and Chance Cards.)

Unit Five: Leave No Trace
Participants learn how their actions and choices can impact the wilderness as they take an imaginary trip to the BWCAW. After discussing high and low impact choices, participants apply and categorize their decisions in relation to the seven Leave No Trace principles. (View unit components: Game Board; Cleanliness Cards; Forest Cards; Rock Cards; Soil Cards; Solitude Cards; Water Cards; and Wildlife Cards.)

$55 plus an optional $20 shipping fee (kit may be picked up and returned for free, seven days a week, to the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis). Scholarships are available by calling the number below.

To order:
Call (612) 624-9050 or e-mail registrations@bellmuseum.org.

For questions or comments:
Erin at ruppx046@umn.edu.