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Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.

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  • March 03, 2010 9:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Why wait to get the latest issue of Reflections via the mail?  The new, full color Winter 2010 edition of Reflections is now on-line.

    The print edition is on its way soon!  Save trees by choosing to receive most newsletters and mailings online only. If you would not like to receive the print edition, update your profile by changing the option "Receive most newsletters and mailings by email only" to Yes.  To update your profile, log-in using your email address  and password at
  • February 27, 2010 8:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SAA.gifPlease join your fellow alumni and friends at Canoecopia ("The World's Largest Paddlesport Expo") in Madison, Wisconsin this March 12th to 14th. Be sure to come visit the Northern Tier National High Adventure Programs booth. 

    This expo is a great opportunity to experience the wide world of paddle sports.  Learn more about this event by visiting the Website at:

    • On Saturday at 9 PM, join us for an informal gathering at "Legends Sports Bar & Grill" (439 Grand Ganyon Dr, Madison).  Upon arrival look around for the rambunctious Charlie Guides, as no advance arrangements have been made with Legends.

  • January 25, 2010 1:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2010 Alumni Wilderness Voyage - The Exchange Program of the SAA, PSA, and SBAFA

    Be a kid again...

    Paddle the Boundary Waters

    While we are born with curiosity and wonder,
    And our early years full of the adventures they bring,
    I know such inherent joys are often lost...

    I also know that, being deep within us,
    Their latent glow can be fanned to flame again...

    - Sigurd Olson

    Sigurd Olson was an American author, environmentalist, Boundary Waters Wilderness guide and long time friend of the Northern Tier High Adventure Program. Olson understood well that as we grow older, the simple joys of our youth are lost, but he also knew that we can be kids again. And how do we become kids again? The same way Sigurd Olson did: paddling the Boundary Waters.

    Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.The Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association (SAA) is proud to host the Philmont Staff Association (PSA) and the Florida Sea Base and Friends Association (SBAFA) for the 2010 Canoe Voyage. The Voyage will embark from the Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base nearly Ely, MN, just a few miles south of the Canadian border. This is the first High Adventure opportunity to be offered by the recently expanded Exchange Program between the SAA, PSA and SBAFA. The Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base is the "grand-daddy" of the national High Adventure program and the headquarters of the three high adventure bases comprising the Northern Tier High Adventure Program.

    Voyage basics

    The Voyage will be August 28 to September 4, 2010. The cost is $400 per voyageur. The cost includes all Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness camping fees, trail food, Kevlar canoes, paddles, crew equipment, on-base lodging and meals, and Northern Tier Interpeter. You are responsible for your personal gear and for your travel expenses to and from the Sommers Base.

    Voyageurs will form crews of up to 8 voyageurs and will travel under the guidance of a current Northern Tier Interpreter for the entire voyage. This will give each voyageur the opportunity to experience the current Northern Tier program and, if you are an SAA member or have been to the Northern Tier before, you can re-live the experiences of your past voyages – when you were a kid.

    Voyageurs will sleep each night in the United States; hence citizenship documentation for travel in Canada will not be required. Sleeping in the United States also avoids the higher fees of the Quetico Provincial Park on the Canadian side of the border. However, you are likely to paddle in Canadian waters and eat some lunches in Canada – you just cannot sleep there.

    Eligiblity requirements

    1. Be a current member of the SAA, PSA, or SBAFA or eligible family member.
    2. Be a registered member of the BSA.
    3. Present a completed Northern Tier medical form.
    4. Present a completed Northern Tier swimming certification form. Non-swimmers are not allowed.
    5. Be 13 years old by September 1, 2010. (Note that to be registered, females must be 14 years old and have completed 8th grade or be 15 years old.)

    Becoming a member of the BSA is straightforward: You register at your local Scout office by explaining that BSA membership is a requirement for your participation in an event at the Northern Tier, pay nominal fees and pass a background check.

    Prior canoeing experience is not required. But if you do not have canoeing experience, pick up and carefully read (several times) the Canoeing Merit Badge book.

    Eligible family members

    You may bring your spouse, child or step child, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law who meets the eligibility requirements above.

    The Schedule

    • Saturday, August 28 – Arrive at the Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base near Ely, MN before 5:00 PM. Meet your Interpreter and fellow/sister voyageurs for dinner. Begin your trip preparation and planning. Spend the night in on-base cabins.
    • Sunday, August 29 – Pack your personal and crew gear. Start your voyage!
    • Sunday, August 29 to Friday, September 3 ("on water" 6 days/ 5 nights) – Enjoy the peace and solitude of wilderness canoe camping with your fellow/sister voyageurs and Interpreter.
    • Friday, September 3 – Return to the Sommers Canoe Base in the afternoon for a sauna before dinner in the Dining Hall. After dinner, share trip experiences with the other crews.
    • Saturday, September 4 – Head for home with a Duluth pack full of memories or stay to participate in the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association Rendezvous Reunion!  The Rendezvous highlight is a rambunctious banquet at the Grand Lodge in Ely which will include entertainment, silent auction and cash bar.   For persons staying through to the end of the Rendezvous, a separate registration and modest fees apply.

    Triple Crown AwardTriple Crown Award

    Upon completion of your voyage, you will receive the participant’s award of the Northern Tier. You will be one step closer towards the Triple Crown Award, the award given to those who have earned participant’s awards at all three of the BSA High Adventure Bases: Northern Tier, Philmont and the Sea Base.


    Need some inspiration to jump start your journey to being a kid again? Click the link below. While the clothing and hairstyles may seem dated, the experience is timeless – just like you!




    Contact your facilitator:


    Registration deadline is July 1, 2010. Get the crew you want by recruiting your friends and Voyage-eligible family members and signing-up now!

    Registration, $400 per person, can be done using the form below (Mail to: SAA – Alumni Voyage, PO Box 428, Ely, Minnesota 55731-0428).  Checks should be written to "Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.".  Please also email us letting us know your registration is in the mail. 

    Print the following registration form or download a PDF of the fact sheet and registration form.

    Your name: ______________________________________________________
    Phone #:________________________________________________________
    Mailing address: ___________________________________________________

    Additional registrants: (List age if registrant is under 18 years old)
    Name: __________________________ Relationship to member: ___________ Age: ___
    Name: __________________________ Relationship to member: ___________ Age: ___

    Cancellation policy: (1) Cancellation prior to the registration deadline of July 1, 2010 will receive a full refund. (2) Cancellation after the registration deadline will incur a charge of $100.00, which will be contributed to the SAA General Fund, other amounts will be refunded. (3) In exceptional cases, the Executive Board can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

  • 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.
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