About LVI

Our Purpose and Story


About LVI

Our Purpose and Story

Les Voyageurs, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), tax exempt organization which exists to serve young men and women ages sixteen to eighteen.

The center piece of our program, Expeditions North, provides young people with an extensive outdoor leadership program that includes an expedition of approximately 30 days into remote regions of central and northern Manitoba and/or Ontario (200-400 miles North of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area). Each crew consists of seven young people (tenth grade or above) and one or two experienced guides.

Commitment to Safety

Safety is our top priority. It’s ingrained in everything we do. We continuously adapt and improve our program to meet industry standards in order to provide the safest wilderness experience possible. While our core program philosophy hasn’t changed since our founding, our medical and safety protocols have changed along with the advancements in technology and wilderness medicine. Our current practices and protocols reflect over 40 years of learning and improving.

Experienced and Well-Trained Staff

All of our guides are alumni of the program, selected from a large pool of applicants. They receive two full weeks of training which includes; five days of program specific material and camping/canoeing skills; a forty-hour Wilderness Advanced First Aid course provided by the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS; and a two-day whitewater canoeing safety course provided by the University of MN-Duluth’s Recreational Sports Outdoor Program.

Communication Tools

Our guides carry state of the art communication equipment including satellite phones, SPOT Satellite Messengers, and ground-to-air radios.

Access to Medical Professionals

While on the trail our guides have 24/7 access to both a Registered Nurse and a Board-Certified Physician. Additionally, they travel with comprehensive medical supplies and equipment.


Our Mission

Expeditions for Life

Our Mission

Expeditions for Life

It is the mission of Les Voyageurs to expand the horizons of young people as it challenges their physical, psychological, social, and learning skills through an intense outdoor experience.


Every young person has the need to explore his/her abilities as a functioning adult. The wilderness presents unique opportunities for young adults to grow in strength, character, and inward understanding. By removing a young person from the familiar circumstances of daily life, new perspectives on material goods, interpersonal relationships, and personal worth can be achieved. As a previously unknown world reveals itself, a young person is able to understand, often for the first time, that life is indeed full of wonder, challenge, and opportunities that they can personally unleash.

Challenge and stress are essential elements of true and meaningful growth. By experiencing the inevitable failures of expedition life, the young person is able to distinguish between failure and defeat. He/she learns that failure is not a measure of a person, but rather a temporary obstacle which, with a new plan and renewed resolve, will be overcome. At the same time each young person learns that what may be a deficiency for one may be an asset for another. 

Each young person is unique and to be respected for who they are. Participants come to realize that they possess the power to accomplish a great deal as individuals, but they also learn that a cooperating group can accomplish a great deal more.


As a result of participation in the Les Voyageurs program, each young person will:

  • Learn the basics of wilderness travel.
  • Learn to make decisions based upon what is best for the group rather than self.
  • Learn to accept personal limitations while enhancing personal strengths.
  • Learn to understand and use basic leadership skills.
  • Learn to better communicate with other people under diverse & extreme conditions.
  • Come to grips with personal decisions and attitudes in the areas of chemical and alcohol use.
  • Learn the value and responsibilities of group citizenship.
  • Learn the value and wonder of our natural world and how to use it without abusing it.
  • Learn basic camping and canoeing skills.
  • Develop physical strength, stamina, and the ability to persevere under extreme conditions.

Our History

Our History


Les Voyageurs was founded in 1971 under the name Les Canot des Amis. The crews consisted of eight boys and the founder, Fred Rupp. The trips were fifteen days and took place in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. In these early years there were up to four crews per summer.


The trip locations began to change from the Quetico to remote areas of central Manitoba and Ontario.


The length of the trips was changed to one month.


Was a pivotal year in our history:

  1. The name was changed to Les Voyageurs.
  2. The program was incorporated as a non-profit, tax exempt (501c.3) organization.
  3. The first girls crews were added to the program.
  4. For the first time crews were guided by past participants.
  5. Six crews hit the trail.


The inaugural Far North trip saw a crew travel the Hayes River to end at York Factory on Hudson Bay. The years that followed have found crews on the Seal River, Middle Track Route, Kazan River, Thelon River, and Coppermine River.


The first women’s Far North expedition, on the Seal River.


Les Voyageurs moved into its new home on the Mississippi River. Les Voyageurs Base Camp is a spacious building on Pine Point in Sartell. It contains meeting, work, and storage spaces along easy access to the Mississippi River.


The first Les Voyageurs crew paddles to the Arctic Ocean via the Coppermine River.



Information, Timelines, and Next Steps


Information, Timelines, and Next Steps

Each summer eight crews venture North into Canada. Each crew is comprised of seven or eight participants and one or two trained guides. The crews are split into two sessions.

Basic requirements and process

  • The minimum age of participants are those young men who have completed the tenth grade and young women who have completed eleventh grade.
  • Any interested young men or women are required to complete a lengthy application form which is supplemented with essay questions to give the applicant a more realistic view of his or her particular motivations, needs, deficiencies, assets, etc. Crews are formed which include a diversity of talents and personalities.
  • Parents are required to attend an informational meeting which provides them with a comprehensive understanding of the program. Their role as supportive resources is clarified and emphasized.
  • Once a crew has been formed, it will meet on a regular basis (usually from April through the expedition) to plan each facet of the expedition.
  • During the pre-trip program, each young person will be exposed to a wide variety of new experiences. Kayaking, confidence challenges, camping skills, and a host of logistic skills required of a successful expedition. Each crew is given a “blank sheet of paper” on which virtually every detail must be planned. The menu is planned and food purchased, processed, packaged, and dehydrated. Routes are researched in detail to coincide with crew objectives and goals.
  • The focal point of all of our activity is a 28 day expedition into remote areas of Manitoba and/or Ontario, Canada. The expedition phase has proven to be the pivotal point in the lives of many young people. Since 1971, over 3000 participants have “grown-up” as a result of this wilderness experience. Each crew paddles and portages from 250 to 450 miles through rugged and untraveled wilderness.



December:     Informational meetings begin.
January:          Information meetings continue; applications turned in.
February:       Applications processed. Guide are hired.
March:            Crews are assigned.
April:               Parent Meeting and Crew Meetings may begin
May:                Crew meetings underway. Guide training and medical training.
June:               Food packing day, beef jerky day, First Session departs.
July:                Second Session departs, First Sessions arrives home.
August:          Second Session arrives home.

Session 1:    June 17 to July 14
Session 2:    July 13 to August 9