Ely Outfitting Co.’s Jason Zabokrtsky announced this week that his business is again sponsoring an essay contest to get young people to shutdown their devices and instead turn their attention to the outdoors.

“The Boundary Waters Teen Essay Contest is a celebration of unstructured time outside. It’s a chance to prove that young people can safely challenge themselves in the outdoors,” says the company on its website.

The winner next year gets a five-day, fully outfitted canoe and camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). What’s more, no parents or adult guides are allowed. The contest is open to current high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, whose essays must answer: “Why do you want to go on a parent-free, BWCA canoe-camping adventure with your friends?”

This year, Julia Ruelle of Minnetonka (shown above left) won the inaugural contest. “It was really perfect,” Ruelle told the Star Tribune. “By disconnecting and unplugging, we kind of lost the drama.”

The essay deadline is Feb. 10. See more details online at elyoutfittingcompany.com/essaycontest.

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