- Sep 4, 2018 at 4:44 am #3554449
Without any hesitation he said: “Philmont”.
Context is everything isn’t it? :) What is the frame of reference? What is the scout’s other wilderness experience (if any)?
I personally know several scouts (many of them Eagle scouts) who have been to the Holy Land of Scouting (aka Philmont) and came away quite underwhelmed by the “experience”. Many if not most of these scouts had been on other backpacking trips in the Sierra or other places.
In order to get the Philmont patch, one must participate in a little bit of trail service.
In order to attain almost any such patch (the 50-miler patch for example), a Scout must have performed such service. Nothing unique to Philmont per se. In fact the Eagle project is a service project. Scouting tries to incorporate service to others in all aspects of the program.
I know several scouts who participated in the OA Trail Crew program at Philmont (some multiple times) which is briefly described as:
Join a crew of Arrowmen dedicated to cheerful service on this 14-day adventure. Experienced Philmont Conservation Department staff with strong OA backgrounds will lead participants on the two-week program. The first week focuses on leaving a tangible legacy through trail construction and maintenance. The second week is a seven-day backpacking trek through Philmont’s backcountry, designed by participants. Prepare to be challenged mentally, physically, and spiritually.
More at: http://www.philmontscoutranch.org/oatc.aspx
The scouts who participated in OATC thought they got a lot out of the trail work part of the experience – less from the backpacking trip.Sep 6, 2018 at 4:26 am #3554746
Matt DirksenBPL Member
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
“Context is everything isn’t it? :) What is the frame of reference? What is the scout’s other wilderness experience (if any)?”
Agreed. While my son has a good deal of experience, I can certainly imagine Scouts from troops who are always backpacking in the Sierra’s or Rockies might not experience Philmont the same way as Scouts from other parts of the country. But as others have said, Philmont is not just about backpacking over pretty mountains.
But there are certainly kids out there who come home from Philmont with a sour taste in their mouth. But for every one unhappy scout, I’d bet there ten others feeling deeply satisfied. If I recall in my son’s crew, there were two boys in particular that came home feeling “meh” about the trip. Having been an adviser on the trip, I could easily speculate as to why. But when I saw them a few months later, they thought a lot different. They had reflected more on the trip and felt like they actually “missed” being there.
Regarding the service requirement, I certainly understand that service is “not unique” to Scouting as a whole, but I brought that up because the Philmont Arrowhead patch is “earned”, and crews must do some service work to earn it. I don’t know if NT, Sea Base, or Bechtel have similar requirements for their patches, but I don’t think they do.
And thanks for mentioning the OA Trail Crew. As a veteran Service Corps participant from the 80’s, I found it to be a wonderful way to give back to my Council’s summer camp.
Philmont’s OA Trail Crew appears to be a great way for Scouts to both Serve, and enjoy all that Philmont has to offer.
MattSep 8, 2018 at 3:11 am #3554997
M BBPL Member
My son went to philmont, as an experienced UL backpacker with hundreds of miles of long distance hikes under his shoes. The shortest day he ever did with me…was 14 miles. And that was at 11 yr old.
He was frustrated with the SLOW pace, ridiculous heavy packs others had, but especially…..the poor shape of a few leaders and poor abilities of the bad choice of crew leader to manage the crew efficiently.
But mostly, he found philmonts approach to be….juvenile and immature. the songs, skits, and general approach was suited for younger boys, Not 14+.
On this point i agree. This stuff is why when boys get to a certain age, few cool kids are in scouts anymore. Theres an image problem. At 14, it becomes very important to most what girls think.
Activities, especially rock climbing was a favorite of all.Sep 9, 2018 at 1:05 am #3555134
Bob ShuffBPL Member
This is turning into a why Philmont sucks (and we don’t) thread. I’ll repeat my plea, you guys cancel your 2019 adventures and then we can take our crews that were supposed to go this year.Sep 9, 2018 at 1:40 am #3555140
The title of the thread is “What makes Philmont unique?” NOT “What makes Philmont awesome?”
It’s fine to start a Philmont fanboy thread……this is not that thread. ;)
But I do get your frustration that many people might think Philmont sucks…….for THEM.Sep 9, 2018 at 4:47 pm #3555196
Brad PBPL Member
We’ll have to look for treks that minimize songs and skits. We’re not a songs and skits troop. :)Sep 9, 2018 at 5:13 pm #3555197
Bob ShuffBPL Member
Good point about not just looking for fan boy posts. There’s certainly a library of posts that take issue with the Philmont cooking method, tent requirements, bear-bagging, to name a few. Mostly unique to Philmont, but not new territory for anyone subscribing to the Philmont post threads.
I spent a lot of time thinking about Philmont over the last year for our July 2018 adventure, but have never been there because this year was cancelled. As I’ve said, I would go in a heartbeat. I’m jealous of those going next year, because we have a group of boys (including my son) that have not had the chance to go with our troop during their entire scouting career, and never will as a “scout” – that’s on our troop, not anyone else; it’s just a fact of life from where we are today.
Still, I think there is so much positive to consider when deciding to do a Philmont trek. Brad P – you might be keeping it light, but in all seriousness there are few scouts of this age that are comfortable with songs and skits. Many more would want to show off their huge miles or peaks summitted. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I worry that only doing those kinds of treks are short sighted. These scouts are still kids in many regards, and they can still have a blast doing songs and skits and things some of their classmastes at school think are dorky. It has to be an environment where a scout can feel safe having fun without solely a challenge of strength and adversity.
Philmont seems to me first and foremost a place to have fun. Like summer camp for younger scouts. My son and his friends have plenty of merit badges and are bored at most summer camps they attended as younger scouts. Philmont has a few songs and skits, and also challenge you physically and let you shot off some guns or throw some tomahawks. Philmont may not be unique on any one thing, but it’s got all that in 2 weeks or less. I’m sure some scouts won’t dig everything, but given the right crew, and a focus on the fun more and the miles/speed less, most will have a memorable experience they will recall fondly for decades.Sep 9, 2018 at 5:16 pm #3555198
M BBPL Member
Then avoid basecamp activities, and the philmont hymn song:
Silver on the sage,
Starlit skies above,
Aspen covered hills,
Country that I love.
Philmont, here’s to thee,
Out in God’s country, tonight
Wind in whispering pines,
Eagles soaring high,
Purple mountains rise,
Against an azure sky.
Philmont, here’s to thee,
Out in God’s country, tonight.
Not bashing philmont, really, it is what it is.
But the more experience a troop or scout has hiking in mountains, the less the philmont hiking experience has to offer. Since most have exactly zero……it suits most very well.
Philmont does offer better programs, like Rayado for those interested.Sep 18, 2018 at 2:22 pm #3556341
David YBPL Member
@moonshineLocale: Mid Tenn
Philmont is not just a backpacking trip, it is wide and varied outdoor experiences you backpack through. Every trek passes through Staffed Camps that have Program Features i.e. shotgun, black powder or 30-06 rifle loading and shooting, rock climbing & rappelling, spar pole climbing & tie lumber cutting, gold panning & mine tour, blacksmithing, homesteading, archaeology, borrow packing or racing, Chuckwagon dinner and campfire songs & entertainment, native southwest history, etc. and a conservation or trail building project. These are skills and activities many Scout would otherwise never experience.
You can pick the level of challenge you want to undertake. Treks are 11 days and 10 nights of at least 50 miles in length and range up to 110 miles. Every trek has some Staffed Camps, Trail Camps and one Dry Camp. The more difficult the challenge the more altitude and peaks you will climb and the less Staffed Camps and the more Trail Camps on your trek.
Boy Scouting’s goals and methods are emphasized and reinforced. Boys and adults become better Scouts for the adventure. Boys mature and become young adults from the challenge.
Philmont is the best thing that could have happened to reinforce and enhance Scouting, thank you Waite Phillips, the Philmont leadership and God.Sep 19, 2018 at 12:55 am #3556445
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I wanted to highlight one theme in this thread that is implied perhaps but needs to be explicated more emphatically.
The training for BSA high adventure leaders stresses that the leader should allow Scouts to choose their own adventure. And standard best practice in outdoor leadershipof any group is to match the trek to the experience, abilities (and commitment) of the group. There will be some Scouts and some crews for whom Philmont is not enough “High” Adventure. For many though, Philmont is just right.
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