Vintage Boy Scout Canoe Base Guides: Charles L. Sommers & Northern Wisconsin Canoe Base

A couple of interesting historical guidebooks and films from Boy Scout canoe bases have recently been shared online.

From the Charles L. Sommers Base on the edge of the world class paddling paradise that is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park:

A later version of the Handbook, printed in conjunction with the Sommers Base (Region 10) and the now defunct Northern Wisconsin High Adventure Canoe Base (a/k/a Region 7 Canoe Base and other related names) near Boulder Junction Wisconsin:

A Piece of History

These guidebooks don't meet today's BSA safety or Leave No Trace ("LNT") standards, but I think their historical information is interesting, and some of the techniques and information are still useful today. In fact, there are several traditional canoe camps still operating in the same manner today.

These booklets are also a real find for anyone interested in bushcraft, traditional outdoors techniques, or the history of Scouting and canoe camping. They feature wood canvas canoes, tumplines, waningans, wool, axemanship, fires, campfire cooking, and reflector oven baking. 

While the booklets are dated, the woods and waters are thankfully still there! In the case of the Sommers Base in Ely, the BWCAW and Quetico offer more than 2,000,000 acres of protected wilderness canoe country surrounded by millions more wild acres of the Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Canadian Crown Lands.

Northeast Wisconsin doesn't have as much undeveloped wilderness, but there are still fantastic canoe camping opportunities in the area: Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest canoe routes was the heart of the Northern Wisconsin Canoe Base and is still home to YMCA Camp Manitowish and its strong canoe tripping program. The Sylvania Wilderness and Turtle Flambeau Scenic Waters are nearby, as well as myriad rivers.

It'd be great to see similar material from Maine High Adventure, BSA! Who's got something to share?

You Might Also Want to Check Out: