Posts Tagged ‘camping’


Greg, our ranger,  left our crew today, August 7, 1986. Before he left he had us sit along the ridge line that overlooked the valley and talked to us about how Philmont is able to stay beautiful and bountiful. He described some of the ways the camp staff preserves the wilderness for future crews to enjoy. He told us of what we must do to preserve the beauty and splendor of the Philmont wilderness, and not mess it up for the others who would follow our tracks. Then, he had us take the Philmont Wilderness Pledge. The pledge states:

Through good Scout camping, I pledge to preserve the beauty and splendor of the Philmont wilderness.  I commit to: a litter free Philmont; and absence of graffiti; conservation and proper use of water; respect for trails and trail signs; proper use of campfires.

After the crew reviewed the pledge, and understood what each of the parts meant, we accepted it. Greg signed the pledge cards as our ranger, and gave them to us to sign and keep. He then left us to experience the rest of the trek on our own.

That was over 23 years ago. I have returned to Philmont four more times since that first trek, the latest in 2004. I am amazed each time how little the country has changed, even though tens of thousands of campers hike the backcountry every year. The Philmont Wilderness Pledge works very well.

Now, if we could get everyone who attend our national parks to follow the same guidelines…

The time has come to announce the winner of the $25.00 Coleman gift card. (Drum roll please…) The winner is Kevin, known as scoutdude on Twitter. Congratulations Kevin. I will need you to write me with your address so that Coleman can mail the gift card to you.

I would like to once again thank Christina and the folks at Coleman for making this give-away possible. And I would like to thank those of you who took the time to enter the contest.

I am missing Philmont and starting to think it is time to go back to Scouting’s paradise. Here is a short excerpt from my 1992 Philmont journal:

Harlan Camp is a welcome site. My right foot has just joined the left in protest. We will be doing shotgun shooting at 3:00 and burro racing at 7:00. Advisor’s coffee will begin at 7:00 also. It this a hint as to what we will be watching?

Our campsite for the night is a nice one. It has tall trees and a few big rocks to climb on. It is also fairly flat. We should get a good night’s sleep tonight. The only drawback is that it is a way away from the program areas. As we finish lunch cleanup I hear Tim singing the Christmas song, Merry Christmas. Did he forget where he was? Did he forget what time of year is was? Did he give me a fantastic idea for something to do tonight? You bet. I talk to Tim about having Christmas at Philmont tonight. We can decorate a tree with rope for tinsel and sierra cups as ornaments. We could sing carols around the fire and have a gift exchange. Tim likes the idea. Josh thinks it sounds like fun. So do most of the others. Tom kind of crinkles his nose at the idea. Ross is not too enthusiastic about it either. I don’t get a chance to talk to Al about it until later.

Shortly before 3:00 most of the crew heads of to shot the shotguns. Ross, Josh, Nathan, Paul and I stay behind. We want to take it easy. The guys that did go had a great time.

Josh decided to go up 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.

Al and I both went to advisor’s coffee which began at 7:00. The porch has a swing on it. Al and I claim it for our own as we visit with the advisors and staff. There we discovered that our friends who were with us at the beginning of our trek are back with us after a short split apart. These leaders are the ones who were so sick at the start of their trek.

The burro races, tonight’s activity, are set to begin at 7:30. A few of the older scouts were not very excited about participating in this event. Yet, when the group arrives the whole crew is present. I am glad to see that. They head down to the corral which is just a bit downhill from where we advisors are drinking our coffee and hot chocolate. The races will be held in the open area in front of us. We will not even have to leave the porch.

The crews choose their own burros from the selection in the corral. The first heat, in which two burros will race, does not include us. The second heat does. The gang chose a donkey with the name of Big Louie. According to the odds posted on the lodge the odds on Big Louie are three to one. Not bad. The race consists of three scouts ‘leading’ the burro down the raceway. One scout holds on to his reins while the other two make noise and try to coax the critter along. At mid point three other boys take over and bring the animal back to the starting point which is now the finish line.

We won our fist race, but not because of our amazing speed and animal handling skills. The other team lost control of their burro, providing us with the chance to pass them and win. The third heat had all four teams involved. This will be the championship race. We have Daryl as our steed, four to one odds. Josh, Nathan and Ross will guide the animal through the first half. Tim, Jason, and Corey will lead Daryl through the last half. Tom and I are standing on the sidelines with our cameras to capture the thrill of the event.

We win easily. The guys are riding high as we walk back to camp. Tonight’s Christmas party should be a good one since everyone is in such a good mood. Al has stayed behind to wash out our cups. When he arrived back at camp Al informs the group to go back up to the lodge. It seems that the group which wins gets more then just recognition. There is a prize waiting for us. Spirits soar as we parade to the lodge once again. The staff tries to make a bit of a ceremony out of it as they present Josh with a package of…pinto beans! Ha ha! Josh hands them to Jason as the staff hands over the real prize … a half gallon of cold, fresh milk! It could have been a bottle of champagne as far as the group was concerned. We had not had any milk since we left tent city a week ago.

The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 recently spent a weekend at Parker Scout Reservation, the Central Minnesota Council’s camp. One of the highlights of the weekend was a tour of the newest building on the site, the Miller Castle.

The castle was built with Cub Scout camps in mind. The building really does give the impression of a medieval castle nestled in the woods. It features a grassy courtyard surrounded by a 15 foot high masonry wall, complete with an outer catwalk. Inside, the medieval theme continues with banners hanging from the walls, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and suits of armor placed around the great meeting hall. The meeting hall also contains a small stage that is accessible for interior and exterior programs.

The castle was built for year round use. Unlike some of the camp’s buildings, this one includes heating and air conditioning, insulated walls, and insulated windows. There are separate restrooms facilities for boys and girls, and also separate shower facilities for men and women. The two large bunk rooms can sleep 32 Scouts each. There are separate sleeping quarters for the adults. A large modern kitchen is found off the great meeting hall.

When the Melrose Boy Scouts walked up to the castle’s outer walls I could tell they were impressed. As they entered the courtyard the stood and looked around in awe. When they entered the great meeting hall their imaginations were flowing. “We need to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons in here”, they remarked.

I took a few pictures of the boys touring the Miller Castle which I plan to post to the troop’s website in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can check out the photos at the council’s website found at http://www.bsacmc.org/ under Camp Parker.

The summer has been busy with Scouting and family activities but I finally felt it was time to add another episode to the Around The Scouting Campfire podcast.

The show begins with Buttons arriving home from an overnight camping trip. A very wet overnight camping trip. He talks with Scoutmaster Steve about a couple of the things he and his troop did during the damp outing. Then, get out your earplugs because Steve tries singing “Scout Wetspers”, a song about being flooded when camping. The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 join us for their rendition of a campfire favorite, Singing In The Rain. Buttons talks about when you know you are a real Boy Scout. As the campfire comes to a close Steve’s scout leader’s minute reminds us about being loyal, and why we are involved in the Scouting program.
Steve and Buttons would like to thank PTC Media ( http://www.ptcmedia.net ) for allowing this program to be a part of their family of Scouting related podcasts. We would also like to thank the Boy Scout Store ( http://boyscoutstore.com ) for sponsoring this show.
And finally, we would like to thank you, the listeners, for downloading Around The Scouting Campfire and sending us your emails. You can contact Buttons at buttonst68@yahoo.com. You may contact Scoutmaster Steve at stevejb68@yahoo.com.
Please rate the show and/or leave a comment at the iTunes store or at PTC Media forums.
Download episode by clicking HERE.

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This podcast is found on iTunes at
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=307979159
and is a member of the family of Scouting themed podcasts at PTC Media found at
http://www.ptcmedia.net/

Show notes:
Song For The Wet Campsite – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/2007/07/song-for-wet-campsite.html

Singing In The Rain video – Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast #30
You KNow You Are A Boy Scout When video – Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast #21

I think you will really get a chuckle out of this. I was reading the the latest post to the Lone Star Scouter blog by buffaloeagle. He listed comments left by campers to the U.S. Forest Service in 1996. Here is a sampling. You can read the rest of the seventeen comments at his website.

  • “A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call.”
  • “Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.”
  • “Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness.”
  • “Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.”
  • “Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals.”

After reading these, and giggling a little, I started thinking about how self-centered, and stupid, that people can be. I really wish that more people would get involved with Scouting and similar programs so that more of the population would appreciate what the outdoors and nature have to offer us. It is time that most Americans get off of their butts, away from their televisions and computers, leave the shopping malls behind, and enjoy nature at its finest. (Of course, I am writing this while sitting in front of a computer monitor in an air conditioned room. Ironic, isn’t it?)