The flagship base of Northern Tier, the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base has hosted Boy Scout canoe expeditions on the shores of Moose Lake since 1941. Located twenty miles outside of the town of Ely, MN, the Sommers Base outfits over 4,000 Scouts each year on wilderness canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota and the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. Trips out of the Sommers base are limited to 8 total participants plus an Interpreter.
Not everyone can attend Northern Tier with their Troop or Venturing Crew, but there are still a wide variety of opportunities for individual Scouts and Venturers to get to the Northwoods. Northern Tier has designed several programs, some offering special challenges for personal growth.
Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base is also home to several unique individual scout programs: the Order of the Arrow’s Wilderness Voyage; Forest Corps, a coeducational environmental leadership program; and Lone Voyageur, a program that allows for individual scouts and smaller troops to take out a Northern Tier trip.
Located an 80-mile paddle North of the Sommers base, the Donald Rogert (“Atikokan”) Canoe Base outfits 1500 scouts each year for expeditions into the Northern regions of the Quetico Provincial Park as well as into the Canadian Crown Lands, including the Turtle River – White Otter Lake Provincial Park.
The Quetico is a gorgeous and pure wilderness, with traces of human travel; the Crown Lands region features the remains of a used wilderness – trappers cabins, age-old gold mines and even the remains of a World War II Prisoner of War camp can be found amidst the beautiful wilds of the Canadian Shield (a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil). Crew sizes may be up to 11 participants plus an Interpreter if traveling in the Crown Land and 8 participants plus an interpreter if traveling in the Quetico.
Unofficially regarded as the “Most Extreme High Adventure in Scouting,” the Northern Expeditions (“Bissett”) Canoe Base is the most rugged and remote region paddled by Northern Tier crews.
All crews enter the wilderness via a twenty-minute float plane to a canoe cache located at the heart of the combined 2.5 million acres of Atikaki Provincial Park and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, an area paddled by only a handful of canoeists each year.
Northern Pike, Walleye and Channel Catfish abound the Bissett region. The fishing truly is world class and the difficult geography ensures that it will remain so.
Crews are limited to the size of 11 participants plus an Interpreter. Bissett is most appropriate for older crews with previous High Adventure experience.