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Northern Tier celebrates 100 years

Ely Echo - Staff Photo

by Parker Loew

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.

Northern Tier and its employees/alumni have always remained steadfast in their mission over the last century of service.

“Our mission is to support the outdoor programs and to get kids out in canoes into the wilderness,” said Peterson.

Not only do they get kids into the wilderness, but they do so on a massive scale.

Each year, Norther Tier sends nearly 4,000 kids from across the U.S. into the BWCAW and Quetico Provincial Park.

“It’s a big operation. We will have sent around 4,000 scouts out of this base this year once this season is over,” said Peterson.

Over the last century, this has added up, and hundreds of thousands of scouts’ wilderness experiences were made possible thanks to the existence of the adventure base.

With these kinds of numbers, serious equipment is required.

It is believed the fleet of between roughly 500-600 canoes at Northern Tier is the largest private fleet of canoes in the world, and if laid out end to end, would stretch two miles.

Northern Tier employs roughly 130 staff currently to keep the camp running including office managers and guides, cooks, interpreters (guides who accompany each canoe trip), and maintenance crew.

While the scope of what Northern Tier does is impressive, the weekend focused on the relationships and memories created at the adventure base over the years.

Staff alumni from every year dating back to the 1950s were present at the reunion.

Two people at the anniversary down by the water’s edge of Moose Lake, Joan and Terry Ogle, were celebrating their own anniversary.

“We have been married 57 years,” said Terry Ogle.

They met out on a BWCAW trip from Northern Tier around 60 years ago and celebrated where it all started, and by partaking in what is still one of their favorite pastimes; paddling a canoe.

Imagine the thousands of unique memories and stories these staff alumni have in the BWCAW thanks to Northern Tier and the services they provide.

“It’s a very special thing to bring everyone here to celebrate this occasion,” said Peterson.

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