Archive for the ‘Philmont’ Category


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…)

Thanks for Sharing!

    The last few times I attended a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch the crew had tee shirt printed to wear during the adventure. Most of these stated the crew number on the front with a map of the trek on the back. Nothing too special, but a nice souvenir. I still wear a couple of them since I have not wore them out yet. They are quite comfortable.

    I recently was cleaning out my email box of old messages when I came across one from a Philmont forum I belonged to that talked about humorous Philmont tee shirt slogans.

    One writer wrote of a shirt he saw that read,
    “I hiked ’till my heart raced and my muscles burned, And then I hiked some more. Philmont 2006.”

    Another shirt stated,
    “Another day,
    Another dozen miles,
    Same socks.
    Philmont 2006″

    My favorite one had this printed on the back of the shirt:
    “IF YOU CAN READ THIS SHIRT, I’VE LOST MY PACK !!

    Did your crew have a great saying on its shirt? Leave a comment here and share it with us.

    (BTW: The picture is one of the many shirt designs available at ClassB.com.)

    Thanks for Sharing!

      Josh decided to go to the top of Deer Lake Mesa. It is a side hike that we had talked about doing when we were planning things back in Melrose. No one shows any interest in going along with him so he tries to go off by himself. I put a stop to that idea very quickly. At least three people will have to go. I would prefer four. We need to practice the buddy system out here. There is no telling what could happen, although it should be a safe enough hike.

      Even though I was not planning to go up to the mesa at first I decide to go along with Josh. I was looking forward to side hiking this mesa when I looked over our agenda back home. Tim also expresses interest but backs out for some reason. Pete and Corey finally decide to join us. We grab our rain gear, canteens, and a map and compass. It is cloudy and looks as if it may rain. If it does we will turn around and come right back. If not, we plan to be back at 6:00 p.m.

      It is close to a two kilometer hike to the mesa. Two thirds of it is on a four wheel drive trail. This trail is in extremely poor condition and is very steep. I wander how often a vehicle even comes up this way. By the condition of the ‘road’ I would say not very. The storm clouds above us threaten to soak us the entire journey.

      The mesa takes our breath away as we reach the top. It is a fantastic site, an elevation at over 8200 feet. Kinda reminds me of Shangrala. The mesa is actually slightly concave. The perimeter is lined with a hardy stand of trees that block out most of the view of the mountains that surround us. In the center is a small lake. Seventeen cattle graze in the grassland across the pond. For a while the four of us just stand there and try to absorb the scenery. It is the closest thing to Minnesota that I have seen since we arrived in Philmont.

      Unfortunately, the storm clouds still threaten to drench us so we do not stay more then fifteen minutes. If we are lucky we can make it back to camp before it rains. We all agree that we should have come up sooner. It would have been great to lie back in the grass and take it easy, watching the cattle graze and the birds fly by. We are treated to a spectacular view of Cimarron on the way back.

      We arrive back at camp at 5:45 p.m., fifteen minutes sooner then we thought we would. It still has not rained. The four of us play Frisbee as Ross, Jason, and Al prepare supper. Nathan is sleeping in his tent about twenty feet from us. The flap is partly open. We take turns trying to throw the Frisbee into the tent but are not very successful. Greg comes by as states that he can do it. We do not believe him but let him try. He does it on his first throw. That ends the game.

      Supper is delicious. There is very little mash potatoes, gravy, beef, or lemon pie left over when the group finishes.

      (This was an excerpt of my journal of Troop 68′s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in 1992.)

      Thanks for Sharing!

        I know there have been quite a few books written about that magical place we Scouters know as Philmont Scout Ranch. I own a few of them. Four to be precise. Here is a quick description of each of them.

        Return To The Summit Of Scouting is “A Scouter’s midlife journey back to Philmont” written by William F Cass. It follows Mr. Cass’ return to Philmont as an advisor and father after having left the ranch as a summer staffer over two decades earlier. Not only does the book follow the expedition of him and his son, but it also gives great nice in-depth outlook from the staff and rangers point of view. This book was first printed in April, 1993.

        Head For The High Country was written by David L. Caffey and published in 1973. Mr. Caffey was a member of the Philmont Scout Ranch staff for several seasons. He is also an Eagle Scout and has received the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow. The book covers the five years he spent working on the staff in various camps around the ranch.

        The oldest Philmont-themed book in the collection is The Tooth Of Time, A Philmont Adventure, written by the radio scoutmaster the 1940′s, Gray Sterling. This book was published in 1955. I picked up my copy at a used book store which must have received it from a library because it still has the sign out card on the back cover. I have not read it yet but when I skimmed it for this article I noticed it may be a fictional account of a Scout crew’s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. I also noticed one more thing today. The book appears to have the author’s signature on the first page of the book, under his picture. Cool.

        Beyond The Hills, The Journey of Waite Phillips, written by Michael Wallis, is really not about Philmont Scout Ranch. It is about the life of Waite Phillips, the man who donated to land to the Boy Scouts of America. It is a fascinating book that belongs in any collection of Philmont-themed books. This book does contain a lot of photos.

        The final two books, The Scoutmaster and The Scoutmaster II, are not actually books about Philmont. They are written by scoutmaster Jim Boeger who was one of two excellent instructors for Scoutmaster’s Fundamentals, a course I took at the Philmont Training Center in 1984. The books are about Mr. Boeger’s experiences as a scoutmaster. (By the way, he is 6′-9″ tall, which brings some unique experiences to the Scouting table.) The first chapter about his first experience going on a camping trip with a troop of Boy Scouts had me laughing out loud. Mr. Boeger did sign my copy of The Scoutmaster before I left Philmont.

        What Philmont-themed books do have own? Do you have any suggestions for us. or a special book perhaps? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

        100 Days of Scouting: Day 84.

        Thanks for Sharing!

          And now, it is time for a little musical number from a place known as Philmont Scout Ranch in a land called New Mexico. Let us watch and listen to a group of minstrels that go by the name of the Rayado Ruffians as they play the little tune, “Cindy”.

          (This tune was posted to Youtube in 2009 by TheMrRayado.) 696

          100 Days of Scouting: Day 71.

          Thanks for Sharing!

            Cubmaster Chris and I are co-hosts of a little audio podcast called The Leaders Campfire. We love having guests on our show to talk about Scouting. Last month, we were able to interview Larry McLaughlin, the producer and director of the recently released The Philmont Documentary Collection, which is available on both DVD and BluRay. I asked a lot of questions during the 45 minute interview, including why he took on this very ambitious project, what kind of challenges he faced following a crew at Philmont, and the kind of pressures he felt while creating this collection.

            If you have not seen or bought this dvd yet so really should check it out. The movie can be purchased at the Philmont Movie website. http://www.philmontmovie.com/

            Be sure to listen to The Leaders Campfire interview (episode #83) which can be found at http://www.ptcmedia.net/the-leaders-campfire/ or through iTunes in the Kids and Family listing ( http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-leaders-campfire-podcast/id204547473 ).

            100 Days of Scouting: Day 3

            Thanks for Sharing!

              Cub Scouts like BB guns. Boy Scouts like rifles and shotguns. Check out the shooting ranges at Scout camps if you do not believe me. They are usually very busy places. Boys enjoy shooting at targets.

              If you are a registered Cub Scout or Boy Scout leader you receive Scouting Magazine, an official magazine of the BSA. It is loaded with articles to help adult leaders and stories of interest. Recently, some advertisements have caught my attention. A few gun manufacturers have been busy creating Boy Scouts of America commemorative rifles. Here are a few of them.

              Henry Repeating Arms has created a 22 rifle to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the B.S.A. This special rifle features the Scouts Oath, Scouts Law, scrollwork and traditional Boy Scouts of America logo embellishing the receiver, as well as a 100 Years of Scouting logo and Centennial Edition gold filled etchings in the buttstock and forearm. It can be seen at their website.

              Henry Repeating Arms has also created a special edition Philmont Scout Ranch Rifle. The website states “This Henry Frontier Lever .22 is offered with the Philmont® Black Bull logo embellished with 18 kt. gold plate on the right side of the dark receiver cover. Into the right side of the American walnut stock is laser etched and hand painted in multiple colors a rendering of Philmont’s iconic Tooth of Time, a 9,003 foot molar in the sky with the words TOOTH OF TIME blazoned underneath the mountain’s slope. On the forearm is the Philmont® scripted emblem bracketed by the Slash backwards S horse brand and the Bar P backwards S cattle brand burned into the wood.”

              The final rifle I would like to highlight is the Ruger Boy Scout 10/22 Rifle. The website states “Saluting the Boy Scouts of America in a manner befitting their heritage and spirit of adventure.The officially licensed Ruger model number 1255 features precision laser embellishment on a classically rich walnut stock and a special factory serial number.”

              I do not own a rifle. I thought it would be great to add one or two of these guns to my Scouting collection. Until I saw the price. I did not realize that rifles could be so pricey. These guns have a MSRP of $480 to $600. That is a little pricey for me. But it sure would be fun to bring one to camp (if allowed) and show it off to the boys and the staff.

              Have any of you bought a special Scouting commemorative rifle? Have you shot it? Leave a comment, along with a picture.

              Thanks for Sharing!

                We are in the final week of the Christmas season. This time of year always reminds me of one evening in August of 1992 when I was with my troop on a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch. We decided to spend an evening around the campfire celebrating Christmas and singing songs. Yes, it was odd, but it was also a lot of fun. During the fun each of the twelve of us took one verse and made a new version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I have written this to the blog during a previous year, but I thought it might be fun to look at it once again.

                .
                .

                The Philmont Twelve Days of Christmas.
                On the twelfth day at Philmont my ranger gave to me;
                twelve meal packs (Tom)
                eleven Sierra cups (Tim)
                ten hikers hiking (Josh)
                nine bottles of iodine (Nathan)
                eight backpackers packing (Ross)
                seven teriyaki helpings (Corey)
                six good meals (Paul)
                a five mile hike (Jason)
                four hot showers (Al)
                three dirty socks (Peter)
                two Powerbars (Greg)
                and one pemmican bar. (Steve)

                Have you been on a Philmont trek? What would you have added as a verse to the song?

                You can read more about our evening of Christmas at Philmont at
                http://www.melrosetroop68.org/High%20Adventure%20Journals/Philmont92part6.html

                Thanks for Sharing!