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Be a kid again…

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.

sommers logoThe 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.

Eligibility 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

  • triple crown awardSaturday, 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 a free extra night September 4 to participate in the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association Rendezvous. The Rendezvous highlight is a rambunctious banquet at the Grand Lodge in Ely which will include entertainment, silent auction and cash bar. (The banquet and cash bar is at your cost.) For persons staying through to the end of the Rendezvous on September 7, additional fees apply.

Triple 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 Phacilitators:

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

Registration, $400 per person, can be done using the form below (mail to 17 Deer Run Road, Cimarron, NM 87714) or on-line at

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 not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event (within one calendar year) or can be contributed to the General Fund. (3) In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.