CHARLES L. SOMMERS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, INC.

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History

Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc. maintains a catalog of essays, articles, historic material related to the “Far Northland” and the Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases. Learn about Northern Tier’s three Canoe Bases, what a “Charlie Guide” is, and the meaning of “Hol-Ry!”. In addition, an archive of historic photos of the program and past crew photos is available.

Hudson Bay Bread

Many recall the “Hudson Bay Bread” they had as a Scout or Leader at Northern Tier. In the 1960's, the Base got the recipe from the Minnesota Outward Bound School, and for several years it was baked at the Barbara Ann Bakery in Ely.

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Crew Photos and Historic Material

The Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc. (SAA) maintains a separate site that presents a digital archive of historical documents and photos from the Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases. One of the most significant features of the archive is an extensive database of crew photos taken through the years.

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Alumni Essays and Articles 

Through the years alumni and friends have composed essays of their adventures and memories of their times at Northern Tier and beyond.  Essays recalls the impact of the program, past gatherings, influencers of the program such as Joe Seliga, and celebrations of life including the late Clyde "Sandy" Bridges. 

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Canoe Bases of Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases

Learn more about the Canoe Bases of Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases: Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base (Ely, Minnesota), Donald Rogert Canoe Base (Atikokan, Ontario), and Northern Expeditions (Bissett, Manitoba).

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Charlie Guides – Interpreters

For as long as we can remember, members of the trail staff have been known as "Charlie Guides". This is a tag that we have worn proudly. Trail staff are well-trained and highly motivated outdoor professionals, usually college age men and women.

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What is Hol-Ry?

Hol-Ry is the hailing sign for voyageurs of the Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base. When a voyageur encounters another on the trail, it is customary for one to address the other with "Hol-Ry" and the other to respond with "Red-Eye". The origin of this greeting hearkens to the 50's and 60's when Charlie crews carried a rye cracker with the trade name Hol-Ry.

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"A Diamond in the North" History Book

The Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, Inc.'s book "A Diamond in the North: A History of Scout Adventure in the North Country 1923-98" by Gene Felton offers a definitive history of the Northern Tier High Adventure program. Come experience the rich deep history of the oldest High Adventure Base of the Boy Scouts of America. 

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Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base History Documents

These documents provide a glimpse of the imagination, ingenuity, and hard work that went into crafting the Northern Tier program. You will find letters and articles by the founders, directors, and staff. We hope that by spending some time you might gain insight as to how the canoe base was born and how it has affected the lives of all who have paddled out from her shores.

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Trek Logs

This directory includes crew trek logs that have been sent to us over the years. Among the logs are adventures by staff members to regions beyond the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park.

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Paddle Awards

In the 1930s and 1940s, individuals were eligible for the Bronze, Gold, and Silver Paddle awards which recognized "careful attention to camping fundamentals, use of a camera and careful observation". This directory includes the award applications along with accompanying photos and trip diaries.

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Miniature Paddle Brand Collection 

Canoe paddle decorations have been a long-standing tradition at the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base. Many of the founders and staff members have chosen to share their personality through the paintings on their paddle. The paintings can represent their "call sign" or a memorable moment.

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