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Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.

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  • December 19, 2009 8:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association
    Season's Greeting, We with you a Happy Holiday Season

    Photo:  Justin Benedict, 2009 Staff - "Storm at sunset on Pickerel Lake"; Design:  Doug Latimer
  • October 26, 2009 8:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    For those who do not receive Boy's Life magazine, the September issue featured Northern Tier's Okpik winter adventure program.  The magazine's Website has some great videos from the program featuring dog sledding, shelter building, and snowshoeing:

    The Outdoor Channel's "Scouting For Adventure" show also featured the program this season in its first and second episodes.  Check out the Okpik episode trailer at

    Are you a leader with a unit is interested in participating in Okpik? You are still in luck as there are plenty of openings!  Check out the Website at to learn more about the program.  A list of available slots is also available (pdf document).  If a slot is not available you may want to call (218-365-4811) as crew registrations are constantly in flux.

    This is also the second year the "Webelos OKPIK Weekend" (WOW) program is being offered.  This is a great recruiting opportunity for troops as it allows 1st and 2nd year Webelos to come along and participate.

  • October 07, 2009 8:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association (SAA) Photo Competition Committee is proud to announce the winners of this year's Northern Tier staff photo competition. Each year we have noticed an increase in the quality of the entries making the selection process even more difficult. There were a wide variety of entries on a large number of subjects, great to look at but hard to make decisions!  The winning images will be used for promotion of the SAA (including scholarship fund) and Northern Tier program.

    After due deliberations and consultations here are the selections:
    • Award of Excellence and winner:  John Schreiber - "Iris out bright"
    • Award of Merit and winner:  Ashley Edmeades - "A whole new prospective/Sunset on Perch Lake reflecting into my guitar"
    • Award of Merit and winner:  Justin Benedict - "Storm at sunset on Pickerel Lake"
    On behalf of the Committee and the Board of the SAA we would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest this year for their excellent work. Thanks for sharing your creative visions on the lake country we all know and love.

    "Iris out bright" by John Schreiber:

    "A whole new prospective/Sunset on Perch Lake reflecting into my guitar" by Ashley Edmeades:

    "Storm at sunset on Pickerel Lake" by Justin Benedict:
  • August 13, 2009 9:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Enter the 2009 staff photo contest online at

    Award of Excellence: $200 visa gift card
    Awards of Merit (2): $100 visa gift cards

    Deadline: September 15, 2009

    Put your pixels up against the best! Entering is quick, easy and free!

  • July 19, 2009 9:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Butch Diesslin sends in a Duluth News Tribune story about Dorothy "Ma" Harry who took the first canoe trips with her Girl Scouts that evolved into the Northern Lakes Canoe Girl Scouts Canoe Base.  Early on Harrys sought the advice from "Charlie Guides" at located at Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base including Butch:

    Learn more about the Northern Lakes Girl Scout Canoe Base at the Northern Lakes Canoe Base Alumni Association's Web site:
  • July 04, 2009 2:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Broken CanoeIt is hard to believe it was ten years to the day the Boundary Waters "Blowdown" occurred; often referenced by alumni as the "4th July Incident".

    On July 4th, 1999, Northern Tier staff was aware of an oncoming storm and while finishing lunch in the dining hall when the storm hit. The wind and rain was immense to the point you could not see out the windows.  When the storm cleared staff looking out the glass pane window towards the dining bell finally realized the extent of the damage: "Wasn't there a large tree there before?". The Sommers base was left strewn with fallen trees and without power or phones. Likewise the eastern part of the Boundary Waters was also devastated with fallen trees. While equipment, portages, and campsites were left covered with trees amazingly injuries were minimal.

    CabinsBelow you will find links to material and photos describing the incident.

    Where you on staff or in the Boundary Waters at the time?  Post your memories below!


    Road to Northern Tier

    Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association Newsletter Summer 1999
    - Includes post storm photos of base
    - Article:  "July 4, 1999: BWCAW, Sommers Canoe Base, Hit by Destructive Winds"
    - Article:  "Alumni Work Project to help Base Recover from July Storm"

    Storm DamageCharles L. Sommers Alumni Association Newsletter Winter/Fall 1999
    - Includes post storm clean-up photos
    - Article "Give A Hol-Ry And They Will Come"

    Minnesota Public Radio:  Mainstreet Radio Special - Boundary Waters Blowdown
    -  Listen to radio segments and view slide show (bottom).  Includes interview with former Northern Tier General Manager Doug Hirdler.

    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:  Boundary Waters Blowdown Pages
    - Photos of damage


  • May 22, 2009 8:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Reflections Winter/Spring 2009 newsletter is now available. It's now in full colour! View it online.
  • May 12, 2009 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Erik SimulaFollow Erik Simula (and his dog Kitigan) on a 1,000+ mile, 4-month solo journey in his 14-foot birch bark canoes. His route (the "Arrowhead Journey") is from the mouth of the Pigeon River on Lake Superior to Duluth, up the St. Louis River, across the Savanna Portage, up the Mississippi River, down the Bigfork River, up the Rainy River, and back the border route to Grand Portage.

    Erik Simula was on Northern Tier National High Adventure's summer and Okpik winter camping program staff from 1982 to 1984.  In 1984 Simula paddled to Hudson Bay. Currently Erik is a Park Ranger at Grand Portage National Monument.


    Map of Erik’s incredible journey:

    Erik was in the news today as he had to be rescued!
  • May 06, 2009 7:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alumni Wilderness Voyage CrewHol-Ry,

    The Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc., and the Northern Tier National High Adventure Programs are sponsoring the Third Annual Alumni Wilderness Voyage from June 12 to 19, 2009. This is your opportunity to:
    • Re-Visit the canoe country in a Northern Tier "Crew"
    • Re-Connect with other former "Charlie Guides"
    • Re-Fresh your understanding of the Northern Tier canoeing program by experiencing it with a current Interpreter
    Participants will be divided into normal sized Sommers crews of up to 8 participants, and will travel under the guidance of a current Northern Tier Interpreter for the entire voyage. This will give each participant the opportunity to experience the current Northern Tier program trip, to experience how current procedures differ from the past, and to re-live some of the experiences of past wilderness canoeing voyages.

    Crew PhotoEligibility Requirements:

    The Alumni Wilderness Voyage is an opportunity for members of the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association (SAA) or the Philmont Staff Association (PSA) - or a participating member's immediate family to be crew members on a 7-day canoe trip with a Northern Tier Interpreter. The Wilderness Voyage is open to 16 participants.

    Wilderness Voyage Registration

    Important:  The registration deadline is May 31st!

    The cost for the Wilderness Voyage is $450 per person.  This fee includes: BWCAW camping fees, trail food, canoes, paddles, PFDs, packs, group equipment, on-base lodging and facilities use plus all of the on-base meals. Participants are responsible for their own personal gear and transportation to and from the Charles L. Sommers National High Adventure Base near Ely, Minnesota.

    For further information or questions, contact Butch Diesslin at


    ("Paddling at Sunrise on Duncan Lake" by Travis McCormick)
  • May 01, 2009 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hol-ry cow camp!

    Trek sales sizzle: 72% slots sold.

    Philmont Scout Ranch allocated 60 slots for the coming Trek. As of May 1, 2009, 43 of these slots have been sold, or 72% of the total. This figure is phenomenal, considering that the “hot” month for filling Trek slots, May, is only beginning.

    Eight of these slots of have been claimed by participants from your Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association! 

    If you are going to join these SAA participants on their 6 day, five night, portage, you need to act now. In theory you have until June 15 to register, but the Trek appears headed for a sell-out, and when the slots are gone, they’re gone.

    Your SAA Trek at Philmont is scheduled from July 26 – August 1. SAA Trekkers are strongly encouraged to arrive at Philmont or other high altitude location by Saturday, July 25, to be eligible for better itineraries and adjust to the altitude. The Trek will be preceded by the Philmont Staff Association Annual Reunion and Meeting July 24-26, which you are welcome to attend. Your Trek fee includes the Reunion.

    Trekkers will gather at the Philmont Welcome Center at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, July 26, hit the trail on Monday, and come off the trail Saturday, August 1. You will earn the Philmont Arrowhead Patch. Participants who have participated at the Northern Tier and Sea Base will be Triple Crown Award eligible.

    You and your Trek-eligible family members will be required to present a completed Philmont Medical Form prior to hitting the trail. (This is a little different from the Northern Tier form.) Your Trek-eligible family members must be 14 years of age by January 1, 2009. You must be an SAA member and all participants must be registered with the BSA.

    The cost of the Trek and Reunion is $375. You can send in your check using the form below. You can also register on-line, but there is an additional charge.

    For further information, contact Lee Huckstep at or Butch Diesslin at

    (Baldy from Philmont's buffalo pasture, taken by Douglas Fasching)


    Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.
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