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1983 Photos and Memories
Staff 83

Bruce Richardson, Todd Wittlief, Chris Jacisin, Jon Iltis, Gerry Dashnier, Bob Black. Not pictured (out on the trail): Mike Feltes and Bill Zander

During the off-season leading up to the summer of 1983, National effectively closed the base as a stand-alone entity autonomously handling all the functions of operating a high adventure base. For 1983 onward, National put the Canoe Base as an operating satellite under the umbrella of Charles Sommers Canoe Base. Three things are undeniable: the Northern Wisconsin Canoe Base Committee's efforts to have the base continue, the dwindling numbers of youth active in Scouting, and the political work at National by Sandy Bridges advocating the closure of the Canoe Base. Clearly, Sommers and Northern Wisconsin competed for the same dwindling customer base. True, the Northern Wisconsin lakes continued to be encircled by cabins making "wilderness" difficult to find. But it was still there for those crews willing to portage. Further, the quality of training at the Northern Wisconsin Canoe Base was legendary and probably it's best legacy.

In mid-Spring, staff scheduled to work for the summer were sent a letter from Mr Dutcher notifying that "services would no longer be required". Sandy Bridges and Sommers Base contacted a few of the staff to hire them on. The skeleton staff at White Sand Lake consisted of Jon Iltis as Ranger, Director, Winter Program, and many other duties. Gerry Dashnier covered ALL Base Ops functions. Bob Black covered ALL Trails functions. All former Northern Wisconsin trainers were sent to Ely for "training" and the beginning of their season. A few like Randy Schneider wisely enjoyed the Boundary Waters experience. Bruce Richardson, Mike Feltes, Chris Jacisin, Bill Zander, and Todd Wittlief eventually were sent back to Boulder Jct to operate the small number of trips for the summer. In accordance with Sommers style, trainers were sent with the parties for the entire week. One crew adamently requested the Voyaguer Training they had paid for so Bruce Richardson conducted the last Voyageur Training for a group of three.

Jack Berryman and Bruce Richardson conducted "Aquatics Training". This was a one-week program for individuals that surveyed many water activities with emphasis on sailing. Also covered were canoeing, kayaking, wind-surfing, and snorkling. The "Aquatics Training Program" was begun in 1982 as a new direction for the base. It harnessed Jack Berryman's strong sailing skills and his generosity towards the base as a Committeeman. Two sessions were held in 1982 and two in 1983. To fill up the class to the desired 8-10 participants, the program was opened to local Boulder Jct youth as well. Although the base continued as a Sommers satellite for 1984 and 1985, the Aquatics Training Program was discontinued nor were many of the Northern Wisconsin staffers asked to return.

The demise of the base is sad. What remains is the quality training and the happy memories.