The Villa Philmonte (photo by "the third dream" on Flickr)

At Philmont Training Center’s Region Weeks, you’ll learn with Scouters who speak your language

Here’s a great chance for y’all, yinz, you guys and you-uns to get top-level training alongside people who speak your language.

I’m talking about this summer’s Region Weeks at the Philmont Training Center.

Yes, you’ll gather with folks who can agree on whether that sweetened carbonated beverage you’re drinking is a soda, a pop, a Coke or a soft drink.

But more importantly, you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with Scouters who know the unique challenges facing your region and can offer solutions you can take home and use right away.

Let’s face it: You don’t recruit Scouts in Portland, Ore., the same way you do in Portland, Maine. And retention strategies that work in Austin, Texas, might fail in Austin, Minn.

That’s why these Region Weeks are so brilliant. Interested? I’ve got lots more info for all y’all from the Central, Northeast, Southern or Western regions after the jump. Continue reading


10 things I learned staffing Wood Badge at Philmont

Just like your favorite film, Wood Badge is even better the second time around.

Last month, I served as a Troop Guide for Wood Badge course S2-571-13-3, known within the Dallas-based Circle Ten Council simply as Wood Badge 106.

Loyal blog readers will remember I had a mountaintop experience as a participant of Wood Badge 102 last summer at Philmont Scout Ranch. (Read my five-part recap here, and send to those who haven’t yet taken Wood Badge but should.)

But this time I was a Wood Badge staffer, again at a course held at Philmont. And this time I learned even more. Staffing Wood Badge is like having a backstage pass. From that new vantage point, you know what’s going to happen, how it happens and why it happens at that exact moment. That new perspective comes with a greater appreciation for why this is Scouting’s top training course for leaders.

I learned a lot more than I could put into one blog post, but I thought I’d share 10 lessons I learned staffing Wood Badge. If you’ve staffed, please share your own takeaways by leaving a comment.  Continue reading


Philmont’s 2015 registration period opens Oct. 29; watch this new promo video while you wait

It seems like just about everyone wants to go (or go back) to Philmont.

And so when it comes to the hiking mecca’s 12-day and seven-day summer expeditions, demand far exceeds supply.

That’s why Philmont Scout Ranch has in place a lottery system, giving interested Scout troops and Venturing crews a fair shot at scoring a spot at the New Mexico high-adventure base.

Mark your calendar now for when the 2015 lottery opens on Oct. 29, 2013. Entries will be taken online into November, and a random draw takes place in early December. You’ll find a registration packet online at Philmont’s official website by mid-October.

In the meantime, check out this terrific new promotional video, which features testimonials from Scouts, Scouters and Venturers fresh off a Philmont trek. The common theme in their comments: “This was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Take a look: Continue reading

No Philmont landmark is more identifiable than the rugged Tooth of Time. (Photo by Phil Romans on Flickr)

One Scout dad’s quest to lose 75 pounds and hike with his son at Philmont

Kent, before his Philmont-inspired transformation.

Kent, before his Philmont-inspired transformation. See the after photo after the jump.

Sometimes to gain, you have to lose.

Kent Cantrell, a Scouter from the Houston suburb of Bellaire, knows that all too well.

Kent wanted nothing more than to hike at Philmont with Luke, his Life Scout son.

One problem: At 297 pounds, Kent knew he wouldn’t meet the BSA’s height and weight restrictions for high-adventure bases.

But rather than complain or consider Philmont a fleeting fantasy, Kent took action. From December to June, he walked around his neighborhood, logging an average of 14 miles a day while shedding pounds and gaining endurance for his dream trek with Luke.

And what happened when he stepped on the scales at Philmont in July?  Continue reading

The Villa Philmonte (photo by "the third dream" on Flickr)

Bring the family to Philmont Training Center in 2014

PTC-patchForget everything you think you know about conferences.

Forget the long lines at the buffet, the windowless meeting rooms at hotels, the boring PowerPoints, and the awkward social gatherings.

Conferences at the Philmont Training Center, Scouting’s paradise in the mountains of New Mexico, are anything but typical.

Spend a week there and you’ll never forget the picturesque mountain backdrop, engaging sessions guaranteed to improve your Scout unit, enjoyable cracker barrels with like-minded Scouters, and deer grazing near your tent.

And did I mention you can bring your spouse and kids? Philmont has a week of fun planned for spouses and kids of all ages — all for a fraction of what you’d spend for a week at Disney World.

I speak from experience. As you can see in the pictures below, Continue reading


Keeping an eye on the fires near Philmont Scout Ranch

When summertime fires break out in northern New Mexico or southern Colorado, there’s understandable concern within the Scouting community about Philmont Scout Ranch, located in northeastern New Mexico.

First, the good news: There are no fires on Philmont property or on areas hiked by crews at Philmont.

But the 1,300-acre Whites Peak Fire is burning about 3 miles south of Philmont’s southern property line. As of Sunday, the fire was about 10 percent contained, so Philmont has relocated staff in the southern part of the property and has rerouted crews scheduled to hike in that area.

Philmont also has its eye on four other fires located 100 to 400 miles from the property. You can keep track of all five fires and what they might mean for your crew headed to New Mexico this summer at the Philmont Fire Information page, updated regularly.

But know this: Philmont staffers train for this type of emergency, so your trek won’t be in any danger.


Where are Scouts going this summer?

Update June 7, 11:12 a.m.: We stand at an impressive 683 pins! Keep commenting with the location you’re visiting (be as specific as possible) and your unit number. I’ll update the map regularly.

Perhaps the better question would’ve been where are Scouts not going this summer?

Earlier today on our Facebook page, I asked where packs, troops, teams, and crews are headed for their summer adventures. More than 175 responses later, the answer is “far and wide.”

There’s Venturing Crew 505′s trip to Alaska’s Denali National Park, several units visiting the Florida Sea Base, a Transatlantic Council visit to the U.K., and pretty much everywhere in between.

I’ve compiled it all in an interactive, searchable Google map. You can click each marker to see which Scout unit is visiting that location. You can zoom in close. And you can uncheck Boy Scouts and Venturers if, for example, you’re only interested in seeing Cub Scout packs. Speaking of, the blue markers indicate Cub Scout packs, green markers represent Venturing crews, and red markers are for Boy Scout troops.

Several units are headed to Philmont, Northern Tier, Sea Base, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve, so I spread those markers out a little to make every submission visible.

Want to put your unit’s summer adventure on the map? It’s not too late.  Continue reading


Visual Storytelling Workshops back in action this summer

Who doesn’t love a good sequel?

After last summer’s successful premiere of the BSA’s Visual Storytelling Workshops in Atlanta and at Philmont, the return engagement is almost upon us.

Two more workshops are scheduled for 2013, including one set for this weekend — May 3 to 5 — in St. Louis. If you hurry, there may still be spots available.

But there’s certainly time to register for the second workshop, held Aug. 4 to 10 at the Philmont Training Center in Cimarron, N.M.

Participants will learn the basics of editing photos with audio to create compelling Scouting stories to share via social media. You’ll leave ready to build an army of Scouting storytellers and get the word about our great movement to those who haven’t yet come aboard.

Go to this site for more information or to register for either workshop.

Photo by Greg Crenshaw


Shameless plug: Join me at Wood Badge this summer at Philmont


Wood Badge + Philmont = Happy Land

I interrupt my regular blog programming for this important Wood Badge Wednesdays announcement…

I’m staffing Wood Badge this summer at Philmont Scout Ranch, and there’s a spot on our course for you and your Scouting friends.

The course, officially called S2-571-13-3 but known here as Wood Badge 106, is held August 19 to 24 at Philmont. It’s hosted by Circle Ten Council but is open to Scouters from any council in the country.

When I took Wood Badge as a participant last summer, I had no idea the level of planning that the staffers underwent to make our week so life-changing. But now that I’m on staff and have attended two all-day staff-development sessions and a few evening meetings with my fellow troop guides, I’m seeing first-hand just how much work goes into a typical course.  Continue reading


What’s the most positive decision your Scouts could make?

For teens, it just might be saying no — to tobacco, to drugs, and to alcohol.

And now, courageous Scouts and Venturers who pledge to remain tobacco-, drug- and alcohol-free have the opportunity to to win an all-expenses-paid trip to any of the BSA’s high-adventure bases: Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier, or Florida Sea Base. Everything is included — roundtrip flights, ground transportation, program fees — for an enviable prize valued at $3,000.

The sweepstakes is brought to you by Boys’ Life. In other words, sorry, but adults aren’t eligible to enter. It’s solely for registered Boy Scouts or Venturers between the ages of 14 and 17 at time of entry.

So, leaders, send your Scouts to the Trail of Courage contest page to enter. All they do is take the pledge and submit their contact information. It’s simple, but hurry — the contest ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on March 31.

The drawing will yield just one randomly selected winner, but I think all would agree that any Scout or Venturer who takes the pledge to steer clear of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol is winning at life.