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Northern Tier - 100 years of getting kids out in canoes

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"It began in 1923 with trips organized by a guy named Carl Chase from the Iron Range Boy Scout council and was at first called Region 10 Canoe Trails. Flash forward to 2023 and it’s now officially called the Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base, part of the Northern Tier High Adventure camp network owned and operated by the national office of the Boy Scouts of America.

It is the oldest high-adventure camp in the U.S. and has been the base camp from which hundreds of thousands of Scouts have trekked into the wild over the decades — some of them canoeing for the first time, most of them venturing away from roads and civilization for the first time.

The numbers are impressive: This summer alone, the camp will send nearly 4,000 kids from across the U.S, into the wilderness, both the BWCAW and Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park that lies just 6 miles up the way.

On any given day this summer, the camp will have more than 400 people out on canoe trips. There are 500 canoes (not all are being used) in what’s believed to be the largest private fleet of canoes anywhere in the world...."

"Now, the camp is buying dozens of lightweight Wenonah canoes every year, made from Kevlar and weighing just 45 pounds or so. (They use mostly the 18-foot Champlain model.) The Scouts get a good deal from the Winona, Minnesota, manufacturer in part because its founder, Mike Cichanowski, is a Sommers camp alum from 60 years ago, just before he started making canoes."

Great article, much more at source along with photos :


“The Far Northland: A Century of Wilderness High Adventure at Northern Tier” by Dave Kenney


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Update 9/1/23: Northern Tier celebrates 100 years

"From August 24 -27, the Boy Scouts of America’s oldest National High Adventure Program, Northern Tier, located on Moose Lake, celebrated their 100th anniversary.

The sold-out reunion hosted around 330 camp staff alumni, who partook in various events around Ely throughout the weekend.

“Everybody here worked at this particular base or one of our satellite facilities in Bissett or Atikokan,” said Eric Peterson, a staff alumnus at Northern Tier and one of the organizers of the 100th anniversary event.

Some of the weekend activities were paddling Moose Lake, tours off the base and its new features, hiking around Blackstone and Secret Lake, Listening Point tours, and a dinner Friday and Saturday night, one on base and one at the Ely Arts and Heritage Center at Pioneer Mine."

more at source:


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