Rotary Club of Ely

Meeting Summary - March 6, 2024

Ginny Nelson - Manager and Co-Owner 

Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters & Outdoor Store



Club Update:

No club update this week. 

Guest Speaker Notes:

Ginny Nelson - Manager and Co-Owner - Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters & Outdoor Store

Ginny studied at University of Minnesota Duluth - Environmental Studies and Geology. She has been traveling the BWCA for over 30 years. Each season she outfits and sends numerous groups, solo travelers, and families on Boundary Waters and Quetico Park adventures. She co-owns the business with her parents Steve and Kathy Nelson. She brings an in-depth knowledge of the outfitting business. 

Speaker Highlights:

  • Family passion for the BWCA for over 30 years
  • Premise of the outfitter is to educate others about the wilderness experience
  • Employees learn vital life skills and young employees learn job responsibilities that move with them throughout life
  • Ginny shared the highlights of helping people prepare to go on their first or experienced canoe trip in the wilderness
  • Much happens behind the scenes packing gear and food, and cleaning gear when it returns, store ordering for merchandise, BWCA permits, working with the regulator agencies
  • The outfitters use the same system as others to obtain permits
  • Shared memorable stories: A bear came into the outfitter store in one door and out the side door
  • A customer inquiring whether donkeys can to into the BWCA (no, the area is not set up for trail rides)
  • Equipment damage is one of the more delicate areas to manage as an outfitter
  • As a female in the outfitting business, it can be challenging to be accepted as  knowledgeable
  • Learning about the area and law differences between the BWCA and the Quetico is important for visitors to understand


Most people are excited to go in and return from a wilderness canoe trip. It is often found to be more work than anticipated. The diversity of customer experience and interests is fun to be involved in.

Thank you to Ginny for sharing life as a local outfitter. 

For more information: 

Visit the the outfitter at: 2030 E. Sheridan St - Ely, Minnesota


E mail:












Members Present:

Greg Buckley

John Bollins

Kurt Soderberg

Pat Warner

Lindsay Przybylski

Craig Loughery

Jeff Sundell

Joe Owens

John Mills

Heather Fitzgerald

Ward Nelson

Lisa Ledel

Lacey Squier

Cathy Coombe

Zoom: Tom Moore

Card Game Drawing:

Heather’s ticket was drawn this week, but she did not win the cash. The pot is up to $328+ and carries over to next week.

Correction: Last week's pot amount should have been $290. 




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