Archive for the ‘Philmont’ Category


patchescspIt is inevitable. If you are in the Scouting program for several years you will start collecting something. It could be activity patches. Maybe it will be council shoulder patches (csp’s) or Order of the Arrow lodge flaps. It might be coffee mugs or bolo ties. Would handbooks or fieldbooks be more to your liking? What do I collect? All of the above.

When I went to the Philmont Training Center in June I brought along some Central Minnesota Council shoulder patches to trade with Scouters from around the country. The first time I was introduced to patch trading was at the Philmont Training Center in 1984, and I was not prepared to do any trading. I have tried not to make that mistake anymore whenever I leave the council.

I brought 19 csp’s with me to trade at Philmont this year. Trading was to take place Monday evening that week. I was going to be ready.

I was a bit disappointed to see that only a half dozen people show up to trade patches at the South Tent City activity building, but I was able to do some trading. I was also able to trade a couple patches during the rest of the week. I went back to Minnesota with ten new council strips and one Order of the Arrow patch. I did well. I was happy.

There was one patch for trade that night that I really wanted for my collection. It was a Far East Council should patch that featured James E. West, the first Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. The young Scouter (a possible staff member?) that had the patch did not want to trade one for one. He wanted more. I did not want to give up any of my new patches so I prepared to leave without it. But than another young Scouter arrived and he had the same patch to trade. He was willing to trade one for one. I was able to add James E. West to my collection.

There was one patch that eluded my trading. National Commissioner Tico Perez was in attendance during the week I was at the training center. I tried to trade csp’s with him a couple of times but each time he did not have any patches with him to trade. He did however have his special red “National Commissioner Tico Perez” patch which he gave me. To tell the truth, I was more excited to add this rare patch to my collection than his council patch.

What do you collect? How many items do you have in your collection?

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    Philmont PatchToday is the day! Today marks the one millionth camper at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. That is a lot of Scouts! To commemorate this milestone a new patch has gone on sale at the Tooth Of Time Traders website. What do you think of this patch?

    I wanted to buy this patch last month when I was at the Philmont Training Center but they were not selling them yet. The Philmont decision makers decided to wait until this date to release the patch for sale. I did get to see the patch while I was there. They had already given them out to the staff members and one of them showed me his patch as we hiked one afternoon to see the T-Rex footprint. I will admit I was a little envious, but I got over it.

    Bob and I will now have to go to the website to place our order, which can be found at the Tooth of Time Traders site listed below.  http://www.toothoftimetraders.com/2014-Adventure-Patch/PABAADJPFCJOEKNF/Product .

    Do you plan to buy this patch and add it to your collection?

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      Philmont Wagon 1984

      Philmont!  I attended a week long session at the Philmont Training Center (PTC) this month and on the way back from the trip to New Mexico Bob and I looked at the pictures I had taken of my trip to the facility in 1984, which also happened to be the first time I visited Philmont Scout Ranch. It was interesting to see what had changed over the last three decades, and also what had stayed the same. If you have been to the ranch a few times over the decades you will know what I mean.

      I thought those of you who have been to training center years ago might enjoy seeing this slideshow of my 1984 trip posted to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. Even those of you who have been there recently will enjoy seeing the new buildings and other changes to both the training center and the base camp from which the Boy Scouts leave on their 12 day treks into the backcountry. You will notice that one of the biggest and best changes has been the new Welcome Center at the base camp.

      By the way, three of the songs used in the video are song by members of the Philmont staff over thirty years ago. They are from a cassette tape I bought in 1984 at the base camp trading post. The album is called Philsongs: Remembered Days. I checked the store this month and did not see this available to buy anymore, is cassette or cd formats. I converted the cassette to mp3′s several years ago so I could listen to the songs on my iPod.

      Video Information: 640×360, time 10:31, 108.9 MB. m4v format.

      Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
      Subscribe to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
      or through iTunes  (and rate the show).
      Don’t forget to leave a comment below, or at the iTunes store. It is great to read what you think of these videos.

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        Philmont Sunset 0871aA few things came to mind as I took a late evening walk around Melrose tonight that was different from taking a walk at Philmont Scout Ranch:
        1) It is a lot more humid in Minnesota then it is in New Mexico.
        2) It stays lighter about an hour later in central Minnesota than it does at Philmont.
        3) There are a lot more mosquitoes in Minnesota than Philmont, which reminds me that MN is where skeeters are raised and then exported to the rest of the country.
        4) There is a lot more traffic in Melrose than at Philmont Scout ranch.
        5) I already miss those late night Philmont walks with Scouting friends that would take us to the Base Camp trading post for an ice cream cone before heading back to PTC.

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          PTCdeerWell, the week is now a part of history. Last week I spent my vacation at the Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was awesome! Sunny every day. Not a drop of rain. Great Scouters and instructors everywhere. And only one mosquito bit me. (Several dozen would bite me during a weekend outing in Minnesota.) And to top it off, I actually learned a few things about advancement, which is saying something after spending 30 years as a scoutmaster.

          The food was fantastic. I had lost 25 pounds before going to Philmont, from 193 to 168. Yes, I hit my goal, but I knew that going on vacation to PTC it would be hard to keep up the diet. So I didn’t. The food prepared in the dining hall by the PTC staff was great. I never went away hungry. If you did not like the main course, you could fix something at the hot bar. If that did not meet your taste buds you could always fix yourself a salad or a sandwich of your choice. And if those did not suit your mood, well, fix yourself a bowl of cereal. I was a little worried when I stepped on the scale this morning. I guess all that walking while at PTC paid off. I only gained  four pounds back. I should have that gone by the end of next week or sooner.

          My camera and iPad were busy during the trip. I usually took a few hundred photos when I was at Philmont in the past. I really outdid myself this year thanks to digital technology. In fact, I set a record not only for my trips to Philmont, but for any vacation I have ever taken. I have 907 photos of the trip between the two cameras. I also have 33 videos taken of various events through the week, including a talk given to my my class by  the National Commissioner Tico Perez. Photos and videos came to over 14 GB. Do you think I might have overdone it a bit?

          Yep, it was a great trip, made better by sharing it with Bob, my district executive from the Central Minnesota Council. Keep a watch on this blog during the next few weeks as I share more stories, photos, and videos from the trip.

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            PhilmontPTCpatrol1984My first trip to the Philmont Training Center (PTC) was shortly before my 24th birthday in 1984. It was my first trip on a plane. It was my first trip away from Minnesota on my own. In fact, it was my first trip anywhere on my own. Yes, I was quite nervous. Was it worth it? Yeah sure, you betcha!

            That training course was “Boy Scout Skills For Scoutmasters”. Scoutmasters from around the country came to learn about doing a great job in the role they held. The instructors were Carl Nelson and Jim Boeger. They did a fantastic job of leading the conference and made it both fun and enjoyable. I was even able to get Jim Boeger to sign a copy of his book The Scoutmaster.

            The course participants were divided into patrols, just like a Boy Scout troop. I was a member of the Daniel Boone Patrol. I think the age of the members of our patrol spanned forty years, but it did not matter. We were all there to learn new skills and have fun. And we did. (pictures of this trip can be seen in my Flickr album at
            https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejb68/sets/72157622517598000/

            It will be thirty years to the month, this month, when I travel to PTC for a second training conference. Bob, my district executive, and I will be taking a new course for 2014, “Increasing Advancement By Delivering Excellence”. According to the brochure:

            It has long been said in the BSA that the best advancement comes through participation in exciting activities. Units presenting programs with “built-in” opportunities to fulfill advancement requirements not only retain youth through the rewards of recognition and develop confidence through advancement, but they retain youth because every meeting, every outing, every adventure, leaves them wanting more. How is such programming planned and promoted? What is the responsibility of the council and district advancement committees? What can commissioners, trainers, and members of camping committees do? If you are a unit leader, a volunteer involved in the advancement program, a commissioner, a trainer, or anyone else connected with district operations that is interested in building the rate of advancement through excellence in program delivery, then join us at Philmont!

            Bob and I are looking forward to this conference and bringing back new ideas for our troops and district. I also look forward to meeting Scouters from around the country. I hope to get a little patch trading done while I am there. I was not prepared for trading council strips when I first attended in 1984. In fact, now that I think about it, things could be a bit different this time around. After all, in 1984 there were no home computers, iPhones, iPads, or digital photography. I thought I took quite a few pictures last time. That will be a small number compared to what I plan to take this time.

            If you are there during this time I invite you to look me up. Let’s trade patches!

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              Philmont SMT19840008I had been a scoutmaster for only two and a half years when I received a letter in the mail inviting me to attend the Philmont Training Center (PTC) for the Scoutmaster Fundamentals course. I had always wanted to go to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico so I jumped at the opportunity. The troop committee thought it was a good idea and agreed to fund a portion of the trip. The Melrose business community provided most of the rest of the funds. So, in 1984 this 23 year old scoutmaster received his first experience at the ranch.

              I have returned to Philmont five times to participate in backcountry hiking treks, but I have never returned to the PTC for another training training course. The last time I was at Philmont was in 2004 when I was an advisor for a trek crew. As the years slipped by I began to think that would be my last trip to the ranch. I was beginning to miss the place.

              I received an invitation to attend the training of my choice at PTC early this year. I was thrilled to receive the letter but also a little skeptical since I had stepped down as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 two years ago. Yes, I remain active with the troop and serve on the committee but why would the council recommend me for training at Philmont Scout Ranch? No particular course was recommended this time. I would be allowed to sign up for whatever interested me.

              I called Bob, our district executive, and asked him what was up with this. He replied, nothing special, no particular reason. The council thought I might be interested, that’s all. We chatted a few times about this over the course of the next few weeks. Before I knew it we had both registered to take a course in June, this month.

              I am thrilled to be going back to Philmont. The course is just the carrot on the stick for me. I am really looking forward to seeing the silver on the sage, starlight skies above, and aspen covered hills once again. Philmont truly is a Scouting paradise. And a great place to have a training center.

              I wonder if the old stagecoach is still there.

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                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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