College of Wilderness Knowledge --- front page or banner page


The College of Wilderness Knowledge is the premiere program of the Pine Bend Association whose mission is:

To help the young people of our community achieve their full potential by developing such qualities as leadership, self-confidence, self-esteem, appreciation of nature and the environment, respect for others, and a commitment to serve.

This program provides an outdoor, environmental opportunity inclusive of campus and staff to further the mission and goals of the Pine Bend Association.


The College of Wilderness Knowledge (CWK) consists of experienced outdoor faculty, youth guidance experts, science professionals and merit badge instructors. It is available to youth groups whose members are interested in outdoor experiences and educational opportunities. The courses may be used to earn mandatory and elective merit badges for boy scouts on the "trail to Eagle". These courses may also be used to meet the requirements of other groups such as the Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, 4-H, and similar sanctioned youth groups.


The Birch Bend campus is located approximately 110 miles from the Twin Cities. It includes 220 mostly timber-covered acres on a lightly inhabited lake near Harding, Minnesota. Lakeside tent and trailer pads are available for family camping. Group campsites are available for youth groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, & 4-H.  Courses may also be held at other locations.


There is no charge to youth groups (with qualified leadership) to participate in courses offered through the College of Wilderness Knowledge or to use its unique camping facilities. The only required tuition is the desire to learn about nature and the environment in the out of doors. We operate solely from contributions. Youth groups may be asked to do a service project to help support the facilities. 


Quoted by Dan McGuiness, director of the Audubon Society's Upper Mississippi River Campaign:

The College of Wilderness Knowledge (CWK) is more than just a program at Birch Bend camp.  It is a concept for experiential learning in a variety of environments.  CWK courses could take place on campus or in a canoe on the Platte River of Minnesota.


The CWK is a program whereby knowledgeable adults and interested students are brought together in an outdoor setting to learn and develop friendships.