The Widjiwagan Lottery: Tips and Tricks for Landing a Spot in your Dream Trip!

The holidays are here which means that summer is just around the corner in the Widji office. Summer registration starts with a Lottery. The deadline for entering the 2020 lottery is January 7th. Shortly after January 7th, the Widji team will take all of the registrations that we have received, sort them randomly using a random number generator and assign sessions and subsequent waitlist positions in that order. We will start by assigning sessions to those camper who didn’t receive any of their choices last year, followed by campers who received an advanced camper invitation, then returning campers and finally new campers.

Every year, I hear from families who wonder what their chances are of getting into the session of their choice. In the 2019 lottery, 79% of campers received their first choice of session in the lottery, 10% received their second choice in the lottery, 5% received their third choice in the lottery and 5% were placed on the waitlist for all of the sessions that they were interested in. The summer camper lottery serves the most important purpose for Bighorns and Rocky Mountain Backpacking campers. These sessions are quite popular but we are limited in the number of trips that we can offer by the number of permit days afforded to us by the governing bodies of the wilderness areas that we travel to. Backpacking campers made up the majority of the campers who found themselves exclusively on the waitlist for summer 2019.

Looking for some tips on navigating the 2020 lottery to get into the trip of your dreams?

  1. Register before the lottery deadline of January 7th, 2020.

Unquestionably, folks who participate in the lottery have the best chance of getting into their first choice trip. Our lottery is designed to give all campers who have registered before the deadline an equal opportunity at participating in there top choice. Many of our backpacking trips will be full by the time the lottery is over.

  1. Communicate.

If you make a mistake when you register or it’s important for your two camper’s sessions overlap, reach out to us at and we will do our best to support you. It is easier for us to accommodate such requests if we know about them before we complete the lottery. All lottery results will be communicated by email on January 17th. Campers who receive their 2nd or 3rd choice or who are placed on the waitlist will receive a follow up phone call. We hope to support as many campers as possible to enroll in a trip that works with their schedule.

  1. Be available for three Widjiwagan sessions and list them all in your registration.

Campers who list more choices will have a better opportunity to get into a choice that works for them. If you don’t get into your first choice, you still have a better chance at getting into your second choice than campers who register after January 28th, during Open Enrollment.

  1. Campers who have their hearts set on backpacking but who want to ensure that they come to Widji this summer should make themselves available for both of the backpacking sessions that fit their age group and provide a canoe trip as a third choice.

 Widji has very close relationships with the Superior National Forest and Quetico Provincial Park, the entities that grant permits for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. These relationships give us more space for campers in canoe trips and, sometimes, more flexibility to expand our canoeing sessions to meet demand. We don’t have the same flexibility and capacity in the wilderness areas where we travel out west.

  1. Be flexible and make any trip your dream trip!

After all, Widji trips are really about learning to cook macaroni and cheese, respectfully resolving conflict with a group mate and letting it bring you closer, laughing with and then helping someone after they find themselves stuck in the mud and discussing origins of the inexplicable smell of your tent on day ten. Whether you paddle or walk, see mountains or lakes, you will learn about yourself and build relationships and that’s what matters!

More about the Summer 2020 Lottery