Archive for the ‘Philmont’ Category


Christmas at Philmont

If you have been on a Philmont trek that included the northern and central portions of the ranch, then chances are good that you have hiked through Santa Claus Camp. The camp is located in Santa Claus Canyon, north of Bear Canyon and southeast of Head of Dean Camp.

I have been through Santa Claus Camp a few times on my Philmont treks. Usually, it was an unstaffed camp, but in 1992 I was surprised to discover that it had become a staffed camp, complete with a volleyball court for the day and a telescope for the evening. The crew had a great time there.

The 1992 staff invited campers to write a story about how Santa Claus Camp received its name. A few members of my crew took the challenge. Al, one of our crew advisers, wrote a great story about the history of the site. Since it is the Christmas season I would like to share it with you.

There was a lot of snow that winter of 1853, too much for the horses and tired people moving through the mountains of northern New Mexico. They had left in a train of wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, but were down to one wagon for two families; and they were lost. The wagon master, who knew the way to Cimarron, had died of typhoid on the plains of eastern Colorado. Now, they were nearing exhaustion as they searched through the canyons for human life.

It was December 24, and there were tears in the eyes of the parents as they kissed their children good night, for there was a chance that some of them would never wake up.


The sky was clear, with uncountable millions of stars, but the beauty of the night was swallowed by the intense cold. The Borgerdings and the Hansons were typical pioneer families, and they were near to meeting the fate that so many others met on the Westward march.


It took a few minutes before they realized that there was a stranger at the fire, before their cold-numbed senses could react. He was an old mountain man that the Utes called White Cheeks due to the soft white beard on his face. He had on snow shoes and a pack which was full of freshly butchered mountain lion.
Asking no questions, he stepped up to the fire and cooked his lion steaks for everyone. After eating he led them up to his cabin and safety.

Of course the children called him Santa Claus, and since he offered no other name, the parents joined in. The mountain man stayed with them through that long winter, teaching them the skills they needed to survive in the mountains.
In the spring, he loaded his beaver pelts in his pack and headed for the Taos Rendezvous. The Borgerdings and Hansons followed the clearly given directions to Cimarron where they told the story of Santa Claus to its inhabitants.

White Cheeks never got to Taos, nor was he ever again seen alive. The people who come to his canyon on Christmas Eve know that there is an old white faced mountain man sitting over a fire, and even though no lion has lived here for many years, there are always plenty of lion steaks for everyone. If you ask him, he’ll tell you about the winter of 1853, and the families that called him Santa Claus.

Do you have any Christmas stories about your Scouts? Share them with us and leave a comment.

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    1996YPS03(The following article was written by Brad Kramer, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Brad was a member of the troop from 1995 to 1997. He earned the rank of Life Scout. It is the fourth of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

    What I got out of Scouts.

    I was in the Scouting program from the age of 8-18. It has made me who I am more than anything else in my youth. I can directly attribute some of my favorite jobs and adventures to my time as a Scout. After high school, I headed up to the Boundary Waters where I was a Dogsled and Canoe Guide/Outfitter. There is no doubt that the skills I learned in Scouts, whether it was camping, survival, leadership, or many other skills, were what landed me this dream job. Being a Dogsled Guide up in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota allowed me to run dogsled in the middle of the night with a close-knit group of guides and amazing dogs, with only the northern lights and stars on the horizon rather than city lights. The only thing that resembled smog was the breath of a living creature in the -40 degree temperature. The scenery was beyond amazing, and the memories are some of the fondest I’ve ever had.

    My clients were people from all over the world who spent thousands of dollars on a vacation to do what I did every day. The skills I learned in Scouts taught me to tie any knot that was needed out in the wilderness, whether it was rigging a shelter, repairing a dog’s harness, starting a fire in windy weather in temperatures so cold that water was frozen before it hit the fresh snow, or how to splint my wrist when I broke it on a canoe trip by myself three days into the wilderness in the crisp October weather. Scouting taught me how to dress for the wilderness so I could be comfortable all day long on an eight hour trip, whether I was on the back of the sled getting whipped with -60 windchill, or out front, sweating and hot, while breaking trail through waist deep snow.

    In Scouting, I learned the value of community service, and taking pride in your community, as well as the camaraderie from being with others. Over the years, the skills and confidence from Scouting were directly used as a Firefighter and First Responder. All the first aid and CPR training prepared me for the First Responder program in college. In the years to come, I became involved in the community where I would apply my leadership and citizenship skills to the Constitution Party when I was my county’s Vice-Chairman and acting Chairman. Currently, I am a member of my community’s Chamber of Commerce, where I sit on the Business Education Partnership Committee and Government Affairs Committee. Learning compassion for animals and responsibility were ingrained in me in Scouting, and I used to volunteer for a horse rescue where I would help take care of abused and neglected horses.In my professional career, as a business manager, I have much of the leadership abilities I learned as a Scout to thank.

    As a Boy Scout, I rose through the ranks from Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and Senior Patrol Leader. My troop put me through Junior Leadership Training, where I was asked to come back the following year to teach others what I had learned. The skills I learned in these roles have followed me everywhere I go and prepared me to lead others.

    As a Scout, we are taught to love our country and honor our heritage, taught to know our history, and respecting our flag is mandatory. Shortly after I graduated, when our country was attacked on 9-11, I enlisted in the military, and was part of the honor division in basic training. The self-discipline instilled in me as a Scout gave me the strength to march through endless drills, which were no more difficult than the miles we’d put on as Scouts at Philmont Scout Camp, where we’d march through 100+ degree temperatures for mile after mile over different terrain, and our bed was a tiny foam mat on the rocky ground, and our water was from creeks that had to be treated with iodine. To this day, I often think back to the many great memories from when I was 13 years old and experienced Philmont. Unfortunately, I was discharged from the Navy because of the hearing loss I’ve had since childhood, but I am proud of the many Scouts I’ve known over the years who have represented us well in our military, who served honorably and answered the call.

    As I think back to Scouting, and some of the experiences I had, whether it was whitewater rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, or camping, going to Philmont in New Mexico, Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota, or winter camping at Troop 68′s own Watchamagumee, or just playing basketball with my fellow Scouts after a meeting, I have many fond memories. All the merit badges we were able to work on taught me a broad range of skills that I have used many times since, or expanded my horizons to interest me in new hobbies. The values that were taught to us as Scouts have helped me over the years to be a better person. Now, 15 years after I last wore the uniform, I can still recite as quickly from memory the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

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      brads1(The following article was written by Brad Schulzetenberg, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Brad was a member of the troop from 2000 to 2005. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It is the third of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

      Over the past 100 years, there have been over 110 million young men that have called themselves members of the Boy Scouts of America. What makes Scouting a great organization is that if you were to ask each of these 110 million Boy Scouts about their experience you would get 110 million different responses. My personal Scouting experience started in May of 2000, and unlike many Scouts, without a previous Cub Scout background. At the time, my perception of Scouting was camping, hiking, and tying knots, so I was unsure of what the scouting program had to offer. As I reflect back on my years of Scouting, I realize the vast positive impact it has had on who I am today.

      During my tenure as a Boy Scout, I was able to travel to some pretty cool places. In the summer of 2001, I attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill Virginia. The 2001 National Jamboree was attended by over 40,000 scouts and leaders from around the world. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 72 Scouts from the Central Minnesota Council to have the opportunity to attend this event. I became a member of the Jamboree Troop 1417 with other Scouts from around Central Minnesota. In the months leading up to the Jamboree we had many meetings where we got to meet our fellow troop members, split into patrols, chose names, and designed troop and patrol flags.

      One of the most unique experiences at the Jamboree was trading patches with other Scouts. Before the Jamboree, every Boy Scout Council designed a special patch for the event. Often times the patches were personalized for their particular area of the country. In addition to interaction with others, I also was able to participate in activities such as rock climbing, snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving. On our trip to Virginia for the National Jamboree we did a lot of sightseeing as well. We stopped in Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, spent two days in Washington D.C., and on the trip home we stopped in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Being able to interact with other Scouts from around the country, share stories, enjoy activities, and sightseeing was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as a scout.

      My most enjoyable Scouting experience was a hiking trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico during the summer of 2004. On this trip we spent 11 days hiking and camping in the wilderness while carrying everything that we needed to survive, including food, water, and sleeping gear. The Philmont experience is based around the principle of “low impact camping” in which the Scouts and leaders are encouraged to leave the campsites and hiking trails in the same, or better, condition as they were found. Each group of scouts and leaders that attend Philmont must complete a service project to improve hiking trails and campsites to preserve the natural environment. In addition to learning outdoor survival skills, I had the opportunity to hike the 12,441 foot tall Mount Baldy, which is the tallest point in Philmont. This was the most physically challenging and satisfying part of this trip. Everyone in our group made the hike to the top of the mountain which was a wonderful achievement or entire team. The Philmont experience is something I will always cherish and I hope someday I will have the opportunity to go again.

      From the moment I became a Boy Scout at age 13 I always had the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout. Fortunately for me Troop 68 encouraged advancement and earning merit badges. When I first joined the troop there were several older members that had already become Eagle Scouts and they served as a good example for the younger scouts. During my years in scouting I attended many troop outings and summer camps as well as held a variety of leadership positions including patrol leader and senior patrol leader. This involvement helped me gain the understanding of the commitment needed to become an Eagle Scout.

      For my Eagle project I held a drive in our local community and schools to accumulate school supplies and teaching materials for schools in Bosnia. I got this idea from a former Scout who was serving in the US military stationed in Bosnia at the time. In letters, he made me aware of the large need for supplies to help better the education. The support from the community was awesome, I received large amounts of supplies from local students and teachers. I even received a generous donation for the local Lions Club to purchase teaching materials. My Eagle Scout award has always been a rewarding accomplishment for me because less than five percent of all scouts have earned this award and it shows how much dedication and hard work I put forth to reach my goal.

      My Scouting experience has benefited me in my adult life in ways other than just lifelong friends and memories. Many people understand the importance of the Eagle Scout Award and for that reason I have always kept this accomplishment on my resume. In doing so, it has given me opportunities that may not have otherwise been available. While interviewing for a Design Engineering job at 3M (my current job), I spent a good portion of the interview talking about my experiences in Scouting and my Eagle project. The interviewer (my current manager) is actively involved in Scouting and has a son that is also an Eagle Scout. My manager has since told me that my Eagle Award was an important consideration in his decision to give me a chance to interview and eventually offer me a job.

      Through my job I have been a team leader for our 3M Engineering Community Giving campaign. As a leader of this team, I plan and coordinate volunteer events with other employees. My past experience doing service projects and leading my Eagle Project have given me a good perspective on how important service to others is. I have relied on my diverse background of service to others to help me identify volunteer opportunities for my company.

      The Boy Scout organization has been vital in shaping me into the person I am today. I learned many life skills, had unique opportunities to travel, and learned how important giving back to others can be.

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        patc1(The following article was written by Pat Christenson, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Pat was a member of the troop from 1994 to 2001. He earned the Star Rank. It is the second of a few guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

        Scouting was an invaluable time in my life that gave me a great background of experience and abilities that I find useful every day. Whether it is tying knots, starting fires, camping, using a knife properly, or just a state of mind as to how I may approach a given challenge, many things lead back to Scouting. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that it was just a lot of fun!

        Probably the biggest lesson I learned in Scouting that I still fall back on to this day is to “be prepared.” I always keep this motto in mind as I go about my daily life. I try not to let things catch me by surprise and if there is anything I can do ahead of time to prepare for what’s in store, I will take the time to do so. Sometimes I may take a little too much time to prepare (just ask my wife), but I can’t begin to tell you how much this has lead my life in a great direction.

        The other major lesson that I still try to maintain to this day is to “do a good turn daily.” This is an important reminder that what you do affects others, and you should always try to look for something good you can do to help others. By having this frame of mind, you will always be ready to lend a hand, or pitch in when needed and help make our society great. If everyone took the time to think of others and try to think of even just one thing a day to give to others or their community, this world would be a much better place. As much as I may have groaned about it as a teenager, doing the tasks to help out the community, like road cleanup, or helping to collect food for the food shelf, are things that I can look back on in my younger years and feel proud of. Those tasks give you a sense of worth that is very important in life.

        As far as abilities, there are many things I feel confident about based on my time in Scouting. I learned many survival skills such as starting a fire, or making a shelter. I learned how to be a good steward of the environment and to leave any area better than when I arrived. This knowledge gives me a great deal of confidence that if I were to be in a situation where I was lost or stranded, I would know what to do.

        Now, how about the really fun part! I was able to participate in many activities that I more than likely wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for Scouting. The biggest one for me was going backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch. I have so many great memories of that trip, and it was an experience of a lifetime. It started with a road trip to New Mexico from Minnesota. Somehow, we ended up in a van that only had AM radio, but we made it through! We then spent the next several days backpacking over 70 miles through the hills and mountains, and participating in activities on the way. The guys that I was able to go with were a ton of fun. I can still hear Jay telling terrible jokes as we went to sleep and Brent busting a gut laughing. I definitely wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for scouting.

        There were many other activities that I enjoyed as well. We camped many times and in Scouting you are really given a lot of responsibility. You are given a budget and are tasked with preparing meals from start to finish, including the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. This definitely gives you a good perspective on how much work goes into planning and cooking meals at home as a kid. There were plenty of times when things didn’t work out so great and you also had to deal with the consequences of that. We weren’t all top chefs anyway! I think that is another great thing about Scouting in that you learn that things are not always given and prepared for you. You have to learn to fend for yourself and be responsible and accountable.

        I had a lot of great times in scouting. I made some great friends, I made lifelong memories and I learned how to be a good citizen. It is a time I will always cherish and be proud of.

        From a former scout,
        Pat

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          nathanb1(The following article was written by Nathan Blommel, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Nathan was a Boy Scout from 1988 to 1993. He has earned the Life Rank. This is the first of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

          What Scouting means to me?
          Scouting has taught me many things in life. As a scout, Scouting exposed me to fun activities, gave me a sense of pride and belonging, taught me about being responsible, and gave me many fond memories about summer camp and high adventure camp.

          Fun Activities
          Scouting introduced things to me that I would not have experienced if I had not been in Scouting including: hiking, camping (both in the summer and winter), downhill skiing, pizza parties, roller skating parties, pinewood derby races, and bowling.

          Sense of Pride and Belonging
          Although selling tickets for a scout breakfast, or selling wrapping paper or popcorn, or helping out with Adopt-A-Highway, wasn’t something that I looked forward to, it taught me about working hard to accomplish a goal. Whether that goal was a troop goal or a personal goal (to raise money for an upcoming trip), it taught me that nothing is ever given to us and that we need to work hard for everything that we have. Scouting also allowed me to get to meet more friends and get to know others in the community. To this day I keep in touch with friends who I met through Scouting whom I never would have had a chance to meet if it weren’t for Scouting.

          Summer Camp/High Adventure Camp
          Summer camp was always a blast because it allowed you to have a week to be with friends. In addition, you got to work on projects and complete a number of merit badges. It was the week of the summer that you looked forward to so you could be away from home to learn and do new things. My favorite memories of summer camp include frisbee golf, the campfires (with other troops involved), canoeing, cooking, and sail boating.
          One of our troop’s high adventure camps that we attended was Philmont Scout Ranch. Philmont is located in New Mexico and consists of more than 214 square miles of camping/hiking. Philmont was where we spent 10 days hiking/back-packing in the mountains. Fond memories include: learning how to live on bare essentials, enjoying and appreciating the views and valleys of the mountains, doing team activities, and encountering live animals (including a bear).

          Do I take anything that I learned from scouting and pass it on my family?
          Yes, my son is active in Cub Scouts. Although I wasn’t real active with Cub Scouts (I did a lot more with Boy Scouts), when my son expressed an interest in Cub Scouts, I made sure to get him signed up because I knew he would get to experience so many fun things. He has been involved with scouting for less than a year and he has done many fun activities including the raingutter regatta, pinewood derby race, planting flowers, geocaching, touring a grocery store, attending a city council meeting, touring the airport, and building a model rocket.

          Because of scouting, I love camping and being outdoors. As a family, we take numerous camping trips each year. Our family enjoys being outside together, fishing, and hiking, and of course- having campfires.
          Another cool thing that I have passed on to our family is the game “Roses and Thorns”. Each night before bed, our kids tell us what their rose and thorn was for the day. We’ve been doing this since they were very young. My wife and I enjoy it because we learn a lot about what was their favorite thing and their least favorite thing about the day. At times, we are quite surprised with their answers. I know our kids like playing it too because they are always listening to each others’ answers and they sometimes will say something like, “Really, that was your thorn? I thought your thorn would have been…”

          In conclusion, Scouting means a lot to me and my family. I’m very excited to watch my son in scouting and I hope that he gets as much out of it as I did.

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            scout dvd movie collectionLike many Scout leaders and families I have collected a few Scouting-themed movies over the years. I know my collection is far from complete but it does contain some of what we could call “classics”.

            Scouts To The Rescue, starring a young Jackie Cooper, is the only VHS tape I own for this collection. It is a twelve part series from many decades ago, 1938. Cooper plays an Eagle Scout of a troop which finds a buried treasure which turns out to be a stash of counterfeit money. Unfortunately, It is the only movie of my collection I have not watched yet since I bought it after I got rid of my VHS player for my television. Some day I will have to transfer it to dvd.

            Mr. Scoutmaster is a 1953 comedy featuring Clifton Webb as a television personality who becomes a scoutmaster to learn more about teenage boys when his tv show begins to lose ratings. I saw this on tv a couple decades ago and found someone on eBay who was selling DVD copies. Today there are several online stores which sell this movie.

            Follow Me Boys is probably the most well known movie about Scouting. It was released by Disney in 1966 and features Fred MacMurray as he serves as a scoutmaster for twenty years with the same troop. A young Kurt Russell is a member of that Boy Scout Troop. I first saw this movie in 1984 when I attended scoutmaster training at Philmont Scout Ranch. I quickly picked up a copy when it came out on DVD. This movie belongs in everyone’s Scouting collection.

            The Wrong Guys is a 1988 movie which features popular comedians of the time, including Louie Anderson, Richard Lewis, and Richard Belzer. The plot follows a group of men who where members of a Cub Scout den in their youth as they gather for a camping reunion. Of course, none of them know much about camping. And to top it off, a couple of escaped convicts get mixed up in the story. Not a strong plot but still fun to watch.

            Down And Derby is a comedy with a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby at the core of its story. Or I should say how some fathers take a Pinewood Derby too far and try to win no matter what the cost. This 2005 movie features Greg German and Pat Morita. This family film is a great one for this time of year as packs across the country prepare for their own Pinewood Derby. One of my favorite lines from the movie is when one of the Cub Scouts says that he cannot wait to grow up so he can race his own car.

            Pixar’s Up really is not a movie about Scouting but has a main charater that is 100 percent Boy Scout, or should I say Wilderness Scout? Some of Russell’s (the Scout) Scouting knowledge comes in handy as he and the old man Carl have an adventure that takes them to South America. The movie pokes fun of Scouting but does it gently and with respect. This movie is a must for a Scout collection.

            Scout Camp, The Movie came out in 2009. It follows the adventures of one Boy Scout troop during their week at summer camp. While some people did not feel that this was a very good movie about Scouting, after all, the Scouts do not always follow the Scout Oath and Law (sound familiar?), I enjoyed it as a fun story. I was surprised to see a wide number of Scouts-types in the film who I could identify as members of my own troop over the years. There was also one or two scenes that struck home a little too closely.

            759: Boy Scouts Of Harlem is a 2009 documentary filmed by Justin Szlasa and Jake Boritt as they follow four Boy Scouts from Harlem troop when they attended summer camp. The newest Scout, eleven-year-old Keith, spends his first week at camp and faces the challenges of the woods: the dock test in the deep lake, creatures of the night, and the climbing tower. The film is well done and you really get to know the boys and their leaders during the film.

            The last film of my collection is the Philmont Documentary Collection. If you have been to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico you need to have this DVD in your collection. I feel it really captures the sense of what it is like being at the ranch. It not only gives the viewer an in-depth history of Philmont but also follows a Venture co-ed crew and they partake in a twelve day trek. I call this dvd the best thing next to being there. Be sure to purchase the blu-ray version of the film for your HiDef television.

            Which of these movies do you have in your collection? Which ones am I missing?

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              In 1986, The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for the first time, but it was a trip that almost did not happen. Here is part 2 of what happened and the problems that needed to be overcome. (Taken from my journal of the adventure.)

              Only one major item was left to be dealt with: transportation. Airlines were too expensive. If we took a vehicle, and it broke down, we would miss part of the trek. This problem took us several months to solve. Sam, an assistant scoutmaster, came up with an answer. He would borrow his friend’s camper, bring us to Philmont, take his family on a vacation into Colorado while we were on the trek, and then bring us home again. That sounded great! Our troubles were over, or so we thought.

              Actually, they were just beginning.

              Summer arrived, and Gerry (dad) decided he would like to go along on the trip. I had mixed feelings about this news. My first reaction was “why?” He earlier said he didn’t have time to go. His wedding anniversary was at that time. All of a sudden he had time to go along. I couldn’t understand it. My second thought was that now I would not be the only adult with the Scouts. I had planned to spend with the boys, just me and them. I felt like he was intruding. But then I starting to think a bit more. I would not be the only adult. That was not such a bad idea. What if something would happen to me on the trail. Another adult could come in quite handy.

              Now, our number had risen to a crew of eight. Add Sam, Betty, and Heather Schnell and the camper we had planned to take was no longer able to take all of us and the gear. Gerry offered to drive his car to carry the extra gear. It was shorty after this that we found out that Betty could not get her vacation at that time. That meant no camper. That was strike one. The search began for a rental station wagon, or hopefully a van. The committee members began to search. Car rental outlets were called and all of them wanted more then we could pay.

              In late June, Gerry checked with William’s Busing in Freeport. They told him they had a van available for rent at a very reasonable price. A few days later they called Gerry so say that they had sold that one but had another we could use. As it turned out, this second van was not road worthy for the long trip that we planned to take. So here we were, three weeks before we were to leave, and we still did not have a way down there. Strike two! I told myself not to worry about it. The committee would take care of it. Besides, I was getting ready to take eleven Scouts to Wisconsin for summer camp. Nope, I wasn’t going to worry about it.

              I wish I had.

              While I was gone to camp, Gerry, the troop’s outdoor committee member, who had been doing a lot of checking around to find transportation, had gone to a national guard’s camp for two weeks. While the two of us were gone his wife and my committee chairman had a bit of an argument on the phone while talking about the transportation problem. It seems that both of them said something to the other that should not have been said.

              The first thing I heard about Philmont when I got back from camp was that we were going to New Mexico by train. The second thing was that there had been some serious bear attacks at Philmont. Then I was told about the argument. I called the troop chairman, Mike. I also talked to Gerry when he returned. Things didn’t sound very good. Each was angry at the other. This was the first time two committee members had had such an argument. Luckily, Mike had called Gerry and the two of them mended things pretty well. Things still did not feel right though. I could still detect a bit of friction between them.

              Two things had changed in the game plans due to that fateful call. Gerry (dad) would no longer be going on the trip. He did not want to attend any longer. I got the feeling after speaking to him that he felt caught in the middle and wouldn’t feel comfortable with Jeff, Mike’s son, who would also be going on the trip. It took a few days, but Gerry (dad) and I finally convinced Gerry (son) to go along and not leave this opportunity pass him by.

              We may have kept Gerry, but we still lost one Scout from the roster. I received a call during my first day back at work after summer camp. It was Dave, Chris; father. He asked me to stop by his house on my way home. No reason was given over the phone to cause me any alarm.

              Dave and Chris met me by the garage when I arrived. Dave informed me that Chris would not be attending the trek and could no longer hold the office of senior patrol leader. In fact, Chris would probably be dropping from the Scout troop. He then let Chris tell me why. All he said was, “I got caught shoplifting.”

              I didn’t know what to say. I agreed with Dave that Chris should step down as senior patrol leader. I was undecided as to whether we should kick him out the the troop or not. I would have to think about it. As for Chris going along to Philmont? I felt that was something the family would have to decide. Besides, at that moment I agreed with Chris’ father.

              Our group was done to six, five Scouts and myself. (Keep in mind that this was before the BSA had instituted the two deep leadership policy that they now have.) Our transportation was arranged. Our fees were paid. It looked like we were ready to go. We had one meeting to check over the gear and one to discover what it would be like to climb up hills with full packs.

              All we had left to do was wait. We could handle that.

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                Philmont Group 1986In 1986, The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for the first time, but it was a trip that almost did not happen. Here is part 1 of what happened and the problems that needed to be overcome. (Taken from my journal of the adventure.)

                Why Philmont? Why now? These were two important questions. Both were considered when the Melrose Troop 68 committee and I began to plan for a high adventure trek for the Scouts of our troop.

                It was the spring of 1985 when we become serious about giving the Scouts the opportunity to go to one of the high adventure bases. Several boys had been in the troop for a number of years. The regular program was becoming a bit stale for them. We needed something exciting for them to look forward to. Something for just the older Scouts.

                I had been to Philmont Scout Ranch in June, 1994, for a one week scoutmaster training course. While I was there I was captured by the spell of the place. I knew that someday I would have to go back to participate in a trek through the mountain wilderness with the Scouts of my troop.

                When the opportunity came for a high adventure trip I strongly suggested Philmont. It was challenging. It was rugged. It was Scouting. And it was reasonably priced. A thirteen day, twelve night stay, would cost each boy only one hundred seventy five dollars. If we had at least five boys attend an adult leader would be able to go along free of charge.

                We agreed to commit ourselves to this project. We chose the month of August for three reasons. August was supposed to be the drying of the three months that Philmont was open. It would not interfere with our summer camp plans. And last, I wanted to go in August. But before we could make a definite commitment there were two things that needed to be taken care of. The first was to see if I could get the time off from work. We all knew, though no one really said it, that if I didn’t go neither would the kids. There would be a very slim chance of any of the fathers being able or willing to take the boys on a journey of this magnitude.

                I asked my boss about it. It took several days to get a firm answer. There were several things he had to consider. August happened to be the busy season at the lumberyard at which I worked. Would they be able to manage for a couple of weeks without their draftsman and estimator?

                Another consideration for me was from looking at the two week period from another angle. I would be gone to Hawaii for the first few days of the year to attend my brother’s wedding. In July I would be gone for a week as I took the Scouts to Wisconsin for summer camp. This, of course, does not include all the weekend camp outs during the course of the year. Within a one year period I would be gone for four weeks. I only received one week of paid vacation during the year.

                It was my turn to think about it. Did I want to take all this time off work, time during which I would not be receiving a paycheck? It did not take me long to answer that question. As soon as I received permission from my boss, the committee received my commitment.

                It was time to work on the second problem. Did we have enough scouts who wanted to go to Philmont? No, change that. How many Scouts were qualified and wanted to attend?

                What were the qualifications? Philmont requires that any Scout who participates in a trek must be thirteen years old by January first of the year the trek is to be made. The committee and I added one more requirement. A Scout must be at least First Class Rank to participate. These two requirements eliminated about two thirds of the troop membership. How many of the remaining Scouts would want to go?

                Five boys were both able and willing to go on the trip. They were Scott, Jeff, Robert, Chris and Gerry. Chris was not yet a First Class Scout but we gave him until February, 1986, to earn it.

                Things were starting to look good. We sent in our reservation and were approved for arrival on August 4, 1986.

                The fall of 1985 saw the collapse of our neighboring troop in Freeport. We extended an invitation to those Scouts to join our troop, but only two Scouts took us up on the offer. One of these boys, Brian, joined the list of Scouts going to Philmont.

                Nothing much happened during the winter, but as spring approached the wheels began to spin once again. Every Scout had now earned his First Class Rank. The first half of the fee had been sent to Philmont. We had received the information packet for the 1986 season.

                It was time to choose an itinerary of programs that we wished to partake in while we would be on our trek. The choice of itineraries began with fifty mile hikes and ended with a 109 mile hike.I held a meeting with the Scouts and they chose some of the things they wanted to do. These choices included panning for gold, blacksmithing, burro packing, a trip to the cantina, a chuck wagon dinner, rock climbing, and something called the Dean’s Challenge. They then had to decide on how rugged and long of a hike they wanted to partake in while there. They almost immediately turned down all the hikes between the 50-60 mile range.”Those would be too easy,” they said. A hike of over eighty miles would leave us little time for programs and resting. They decided that a 65-70 mile hike should be about right.

                Itinerary #15 was their first choice. It was a 66 mile hike that included everything they wanted plus a side hike of the Tooth of Time and Mount Baldy. Their second choice was itinerary #17 which would was pretty much the same as #15 except that the camps would be different ones. We mailed our card with with our five chosen itineraries. A short time later I received a post card from New Mexico stating that we had been given our second choice, #17.

                (To be continued…)

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