Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.

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Seasonal Staff Scholarship Program

Scholarship ProgramThe Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.'s Northern Tier Seasonal Staff Scholarship Program provides qualified individuals with post-secondary educational funding assistance of a total of up to $3,000, paid over a three-year period. Recipients must exhibit both academic competence and exemplary ongoing service to youth.

Current Northern Tier seasonal staff may apply online at scholarship.holry.orgThe scholarship program is open to all seasonal staff (including summer and winter). The applications period opens at the beginning of the summer season.

Scholarship Qualifications

To qualify for a scholarship award from the Northern Tier Seasonal Staff Scholarship Program, individuals:

  • Must be registered as a student at an accredited post-secondary educational institution offering degree or recognized certification.
  • Must be a student in good academic standing.
  • Must be a current seasonal staff member of the Northern Tier National High Adventure Programs of the Boy Scouts of America, and fulfilled their terms of employment.
  • Must have successfully completed at least two seasons on the staff of the Northern Tier National High Adventure Programs, and be approved by Northern Tier management.
  •  Qualified Northern Tier seasonal staff members must complete a Seasonal Staff Scholarship application.

Scholarship Awards

  • Members of the Northern Tier seasonal staff who have successfully completed their second season on the staff and meet qualifications are eligible to receive a $1000 scholarship.
  • Those members completing their third and fourth seasons are eligible for additional $1000 scholarships, for a maximum of $3000 award.
  • Scholarship awards are paid directly to the post-secondary educational institution, upon verification of the recipient's academic status. The scholarship award will be credited to the recipient's account. Scholarships are awarded based on availability of funds from endowments and donors.

Pilot Program for First Year Staff

As part of a pilot for the next two years (2021-2022), the scholarship program now allows first year staff to apply for a scholarship. The awarded scholarship becomes available after successful completion of your second consecutive year of seasonal employment. Staff members must meet all other scholarship application criteria. You are also eligible to apply for a scholarship your second year on staff, receiving up to $2,000 for first and second year scholarships.  (Note:  the Pilot Program has been suspended pending legal review).

History of the Program

The concept of a scholarship program for the seasonal staff members of the Northern Tier bases was a dream of Clyde "Sandy" Bridges, long-time Northern Tier Director. Sandy envisioned a scholarship program as part of a plan to encourage quality staff members to return to the Northern Tier seasonal staff during all of their college years. Sandy recognized that having seasonal staff serve more than one season was essential to maintaining and improving the quality of the wilderness experience of the youth participants. A scholarship program for college student seasonal staff would help enable this goal.

The Northern Tier Seasonal Staff Scholarship Program was implemented in the fall of 1998, after initial funding by then-Northern Tier Committee Chair Steve Fossett. The eligible members of the 1998 seasonal staff were the first recipients of scholarships.

Scholarship Funding

The Northern Tier Seasonal Staff Scholarship program is funded entirely through tax-deductible donations to the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. 100% of the money donated to fund scholarships is awarded as scholarships.

Named Scholarships

The long-term goal of the program is to establish a fund to generate a significant portion of the annual scholarship grants. This scholarship fund has been designated as the future benefactor of significant gifts from trusts. In addition, eleven Named Scholarships have been established, to be awarded to individuals based on the recommendations of Northern Tier Management staff.  Approval from the Board of Directors and minimum donation of $25,000 to the scholarship fund is required to establish a Named Scholarship.

The Christopher D. Breen Memorial Scholarship was endowed by his family. This scholarship will be a perpetual honoring of Chris' exemplary service to youth, most particularly as a Northern Tier seasonal staff member.

The Terry J. Wall Charles Sommers Scholarship has been endowed by Dr. Terry J. Wall, many time trip advisor and friend of Northern Tier. Award preference is given to an Eagle Scout staff member.

The Erickson Memorial Scholarship has been endowed by William C. Erickson and Helen and Robert Ostman in honor of the memory of their parents Edith and Axel Erickson. The scholarship is awarded to a person who has provided outstanding service in a base staff position at one of the Northern Tier bases.

The David Hyink Scholarship has been endowed by friends of Dave "Pheasant" Hyink, in gratitude for his outstanding service as founding member and first president of the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.

The Butch Diesslin Scholarship has been endowed by friends of Blaine "Butch" Diesslin in honor of his many years of service as founding member and first secretary of the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.

The Clifford J. Hanson Memorial Scholarship has been endowed by friends of Clifford J. Hanson to recognize and honor him for his dedicated and distinguished service to the participants, staff and programs the Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base, BSA. Cliff, a Deputy Regional Director of Region Ten, St. Paul, Minnesota, was the seventh Base Director, serving from 1957 to 1970. During that period, Cliff oversaw significant growth in the summer canoeing program, which set the stage for the ultimate expansion to Atikokan and Bissett.

The Friends of Tinnerman / Tinnerman Guide Association Scholarship has been endowed by the Friends of Tinnerman / Tinnerman Guide Association (FOT/TGA). The FOT/TGA was founded to support Greater Cleveland Council's Tinnerman Canoe Base. The program was founded in 1963, with their canoe base located on the French River in Ontario, Canada. Due to declining attendance and increased government regulations the council ceased operating the program after the summer of 2010. Crews signed up for the 2011 season instead participated in the Northern Tier program. The scholarship memorializes the experiences, friendships, and memories of those who called Tinnerman Canoe Base their second home. In awarding the scholarship priority is given to a seasonal staff member from the Greater Cleveland Council. If there is no qualified applicant it will be awarded to a staff member from Ohio. If no applicant is from Greater Cleveland Council or Ohio, it will be awarded to a qualified applicant who has shown exemplary service to youth.

The Marshall Hollis Scholarship was endowed by Dr. Marshall E. Hollis of Ripley, Mississippi, a Silver Buffalo recipient, many-time crew advisor, and Northern Tier Base Committee member. He is also an Outstanding Eagle Scout Award recipient, a Vigil Honor Member of the OA, a past Wood Badge Course Director, and Consultant Pharmacist for Philmont Scout Ranch. He has served on the BSA International Committee, National Health and Safety Committee, National NESA Committee, and BSA Representative to Gilwell Park.  Marshall is also a Baden Powell Fellow, a Gilwell Fellow and is a member of the World Scout Foundation.

The Jack and Mary Osborn Scholarship. Both were very active in Scouting. Jack was past chair of the Northern Tier committee, helped establish the international staff program, and was instrumental in acquiring land for the Atikokan Base and ownership of the Sommers Canoe Base property (from 1941-1987 the land was leased from the Forest Service). The gift was made possible thru Jack and Mary’s estate planning, an example which others may wish to follow. Jack died in 2003, Mary in 2014. Our thanks go out to Jack and Mary for their life time of support to Northern Tier and the Boy Scouts of America. 

The Robert T. Marquardt Scholarship was endowed by his son Steve Marquardt of Lake Lillian, Minnesota to honor Bob who served from March 1946 to November 1949 as Special Deputy Regional Executive of Region Ten and manager of the Region Ten Canoe Base at Moose Lake, and thereafter as Scout Executive in Mankato and in the Chicago Council. In retirement Bob volunteered at Tomahawk Scout Reservation in Wisconsin.  Award preference is given to a female seasonal staff member and be based primarily upon financial need.

The Clyde “Sandy” Bridges Memorial Scholarship was endowed by friends and family.  Sandy served as Director of the Northern Tier Programs from 1970 to 1997. A native of Arkansas, Sandy came to northern Minnesota in the late 50s as a camper and soon thereafter returned as a canoe guide. He was a visionary person who described himself as an innovator rather than an inventor and was credited with practical designs in apparel, retort-packaged food, and equipment including life jackets, packs, tents, stoves and wilderness communication systems. He closely collaborated with Scouts Canada, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Natick, MA, the Canadian Forces, and the Swedish military. His ability to quickly adapt to changes in the BWCAW extended the summer canoeing program to two new Canadian bases in Atikokan, Ontario and Bissett, Manitoba.

For many seasons, Sandy and his pet shrew, “Horatio,” wintered at the Canoe Base in what is now known as the “Hanson House.” His mentors during this period were George Hedrick and Henry Bradlich.  Sandy’s lifelong interest in indigenous peoples and reverence for their traditions while Chief of the Quapaw OA Lodge coupled with extensive research in the circumpolar peoples contributed much to the development of the Okpik program which became the B.S.A.’s Cold Weather Camping Program.

He was Dad to five beloved children and mentor to countless other young people.  Sandy was an Eagle Scout who throughout his life practiced "servant leadership."


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