A week at Philmont is the ultimate family vacation

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

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

My first visit to Philmont was for one of the training center’s stellar family programs. It wasn’t my last.

During that week there, I met new friends, hiked in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and became inspired to return to Philmont again and again.

While my mom, older sister, and I enjoyed separate programs designed for our age group, my dad participated in one of the Training Center’s innovative conference sessions.

Looking back now, I’m grateful that my dad decided to bring the whole gang to Philmont. It was one of our best family vacations.

And besides, why should Dad get to have all the fun?

This year, the Philmont Training Center’s family programs are back for another fun-filled summer. So if you’re registered for a summer conference, don’t forget to bring your family.

The family programs are for everyone—from infants to spouses—and are led by trained, experienced staff members.

The fees for the family programs are more than reasonable and include conference materials, meals, and lodging:

  • Conference attendees, $470
  • Spouses, $340
  • Kids 14-20, $285
  • Kids 6-13, $225
  • Kids 5 and under, $180
  • Mountain trek, $345
  • NAYLE, $355

Compare those prices to a week at Disney World, for example, and you’ll see that it’s a great deal. And as an added bonus: You won’t find hourlong lines or crowded buses at Philmont.

Ready to sign up? Go to MyScouting and click on the “Events Reservation” tab. For more information, check out the PTC Web site or give them a call at 575-376-2281.


Memorabilia Monday: He visited Philmont at 14 and can’t stay away

One song from my time as a Scout stands out among all others.

I have forgotten most of the words as time has passed, but I still remember the song’s tune and its key lyric: “I want to go back to Philmont.”

There’s truth to that line. It’s the exact thought that every man or woman, young or old, has as they leave Philmont and take one final glance at the Tooth of Time over their shoulder.

Don’t believe me?

Then ask Steve Skinner, executive board member for the Alamo Area Council in Texas. His most prized possession is the Philmont patch he wears on his right pocket (see a photo at left).

But it doesn’t stop there, as Steve tells it:

This Philmont patch was so special to me when I went as a 14-year-old in 1970 that I used my skills from the Leatherworking merit badge to create a permanent holder to keep it protected on my uniform (I still wear it very proudly today).

Little did I know then that I would go on the trails at Philmont nine more times during my 45-year Scouting career. I have the others framed.

You can see Steve’s framed collection above, which I’m grateful he took the time to show us.

That said, I have a hunch that Steve isn’t the only one with some Scouting memorabilia he’s proud of.

Send me yours for a future edition of Memorabilia Monday. Find out how after the jump.

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BSA retail stores, Philmont’s Tooth of Time Traders gain national recognition

Retailer of the YearA tip of my official, BSA-licensed hat goes to the excellent National Supply Group and Philmont’s Tooth of Time Traders.

That’s because SNEWS and Backpacker magazine recently honored both retail operations for their quality work in the field of outdoor gear sales.

The Supply Group, which operates the BSA’s retail stores and scoutstuff.org, won “Best in Youth Involvement,” while the Tooth of Time Traders snagged the award for “Best in Growth of Outdoor Sports.” Impressive.

This marked the first time the BSA had been a finalist for the awards, which were handed out at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market event in Salt Lake City last month.

To me, the awards are a sign that the BSA’s status in the outdoor industry is strengthening. That’s great news for the organization and its members.

In fact, Frank Reigelman, director of outdoor programs for the BSA, recently discussed his role as “bridge builder” between Scouting and the outdoor industry.

In an interview with the Outdoor Retailer Daily, he said: “The reception from the outdoor industry toward the Boy Scouts of America has been very positive. I am amazed at how many formers Scouts and Eagle Scouts have approached me to express interest in our organization and our participation in the outdoor retail industry. … While these relationships are in the early stages, I am confident that great opportunities will evolve.”

The complete interview contains even more great insight from Reigelman. Click here to open the magazine, and then turn to Page 57.

Philmont’s ROCS program offers hands-on conservation experience

Twenty-one days in the beautiful Philmont backcountry? That’s the kind of vacation that us working folk daydream about.

You’ll have to forgive me for being jealous of the lucky 16- to 20-year-olds who will spend three weeks this summer at ROCS, Philmont’s Roving Outdoor Conservation School.

I did two 10-day Philmont treks during my time in Scouting. And by the 10th day on each trek, I had just one thought: “It’s over already?”

For participants of ROCS, the fun isn’t even halfway done by the 10th day.

Designed for Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers with an interest in natural resource management, ROCS is a combination high-adventure trek and conservation course.

Participants spend six of their 21 days building new trails and rebuilding existing trails in the 137,493-acre ranch.

Check out the YouTube video above to hear a first-hand telling of the ROCS experience.

Here are some other details you’ll need:

  • The program is open to registered BSA members who are at least 16 by the time their session begins but haven’t turned 21 by the time it ends.
  • The cost for the 2011 program is $465. That increases by $10 in 2012.
  • The three-week sessions run concurrently with new sessions starting every week from June 16 to July 14.
  • The June 30 to July 21 session is for females only.
  • As of this writing, 47 spaces remain for the 2011 ROCS sessions.
  • Find more information by clicking here.

Read about other Philmont individual treks here. They’re a great way for Scouts to experience Philmont outside of the normal crew made up of members of their troop.

Secure your spot for a summer session at Philmont Training Center

It’s still January, but if you’re already thinking about your summer vacation, you’re not alone. We hear ya!

Now’s the time to start planning your family’s summer getaway, and many Scouters are heading to Philmont for a week at the Philmont Training Center, the BSA’s national training facility since 1950.

There are 10 weeks of conferences for you, whether you’re a new Scouter, veteran, or somewhere in between. More than 80 weeklong courses are available, and courses like “Connecting Children and Nature,” “Working With Scouts With Special Needs,” and “Putting More Outing in Scouting” will educate and inspire you.

Conferences are coordinated by the Volunteer Development Team and feature a faculty of experienced Scouters from across the country.

So you’ll attend one of these exceptional courses, but what will the rest of the fam be up to?

Plenty. There is literally something for everyone. So bring your infant, your tween, your teen, and/or your spouse because they’ll enjoy a variety of activities that include horse rides, hikes, crafts, games, nature walks, archery, and much more. In addition to scheduled activities, there is plenty of time for families to spend time together and enjoy the beauty of the area.

When you consider all that you’re getting for this family vacation and the training center’s location in the foothills of the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northeastern New Mexico, the fees are more than reasonable:

Conference attendees, $470; spouses, $340; kids, $180-$285; mountain trek, $345; and NAYLE, $355. Those amounts include conference materials, meals, and lodging.

Ready to sign up? There is still space available in most conferences, the first of which begins June 5. Participants must register at least a week before their conference, assuming space is still available.

To register, go to MyScouting and click on the “Events Reservation” tab. For more information check out the PTC Web site or give them a call at 575-376-2281.

Take the Philmont Field Guide along on your next trek

PhilmontfieldguideThere are two parts of a Philmont trek—the destination and the journey—and both are important. Reaching the destination means that you and your Scouts accomplished an impressive goal that you'll all remember for a lifetime.

And the journey? That's all about you and your crew enjoying 137,000 acres worth of flora and fauna and experiencing the rich natural and cultural history of the area. 

To better appreciate the journey, you'll want to grab The Philmont Field Guide, on sale today for $14.95. The 264-page, full-color book will answer Scouts' questions like "What's that flower over there?" or "What animal was that?"

So if you spot a wood lily, yellow lady's slipper, elk, black bear, Bullock's Oriole, or anything else on the trail, grab the spiral-bound book and find out what you're seeing.

In all, 122 wildflowers, 23 trees, and most species of wildlife found at Philmont are in the book. You can find even more wildflowers and information on the field guide's official Web site.

The volume, which is small and lightweight enough to carry along on a trek, contains these 11 chapters:

  • Understanding Nature
  • Flora
  • Fauna
  • Weather
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Cultural History
  • Human Impacts
  • Fire Management
  • Leave No Trace
  • Serving Future Generations


Philmont documentary offers complete look at Scouting’s premier hiking destination

It’s hard to put into words the experience that awaits anyone who visits Philmont Scout Ranch. You pretty much have to check it out for yourself.

But a new documentary about Philmont succeeds at what once seemed impossible: It takes you inside the BSA’s preeminent hiking destination from the comfort of your living room.

The film’s target audience consists of two main groups: Scouts and Scouters who want to revisit their Philmont memories, and people who haven’t yet been to Philmont but want to see what their friends are raving about.

Oh, and did we mention it’s in high-definition? After all, you need an HD camera to fully capture the majestic beauty of Philmont’s 138,000 acres.

The 93-minute film, created by Larry McLaughlin, begins with the story of Philmont’s origins, taking viewers through the early days of the sprawling Cimarron, N.M., ranch. It tracks the progress as Philmont becomes one of the BSA’s three (soon to be four) national high-adventure bases.

Later in the film, viewers follow a modern crew as it experiences the “peaks and valleys of a trek.” Along the way, you’ll traverse across land that’s rugged but welcoming. You’ll meet staff, from seasoned pros to first-timers, who share a contagious enthusiasm. And you’ll see what drives Scouts and Scouters back to Philmont year after year.

Mike K., whose comments were posted on the documentary’s official Web site, sums up his thoughts about the Philmont film:

“Ten years since I last left Philmont … this brought me back, got me excited, captivated me, got me to remember people and places I haven’t thought about in years,” he writes. “This film goes a long way for someone who has never been to show the way Philmont touches your soul, and for someone who has been, it brings it all back.”

The documentary is available on DVD for $25 or Blu-ray for $27. You can place an order on the official Web site or at the Tooth of Time Traders, Philmont Scout Ranch’s official store.

Track the progress of Philmont construction


The busy summer season at Philmont Scout Ranch has ended. Though the high-adventure base remains open year-round to host conferences and fall and winter programs, this could be considered a slow time.

That makes it the perfect time for new renovation projects at Philmont, such as the camping dining hall kitchen, seen above. And now it's possible to track the progress of those projects online.

A new Philmont Construction Projects page is regularly updated with photos and information about ongoing projects. You can see several more pictures of the dining hall renovation, scheduled to be completed in April 2011, and you can view the remodeled staff cabin at Sawmill Camp, which is expected to be ready in November of this year.

After you're done checking out the photos, learn more about all of the BSA's high-adventure bases.

Philmont is accepting applications for 2011 staff


Believe it or not, they actually pay people to work at Philmont. And it gets better: They're hiring.

Now's the time for anyone 18 or older to submit an application for next summer. Technically, they accept applications any time of the year, but officials say that applying by Oct. 1 will give applicants the best chance to snag a key position.

That gives you or anyone you know who's interested in working at Philmont about three weeks to get in an application.

The majority of Philmont's 1,000-plus staff members work from late May to mid-August each year. That's the heavy season at Philmont, when crews of Scouts hit the trails for high-adventure fun. To be eligible to apply, you need to be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America (or agree to register before you start working).

Jobs include on-trail rangers, trading post staff, gardeners, training center staff, conservation workers, and many more.

Find the application, a complete list of requirements, detailed job descriptions, and pretty much everything you'll need at the official "Working at Philmont" page on the Philmont site.

Philmont Scout Ranch debuts new-look Web site


One way to beat the workday blues is daydreaming about spending a week at one of the Boy Scouts of America’s three (and soon four) excellent high-adventure bases.

If it’s Philmont Scout Ranch that fills your daydreams, today is your lucky day. That’s because Philmont has just debuted a completely redesigned Web site that makes it easier than ever to register for activities, apply for jobs, watch videos, and get more information about Scouting’s premier hiking destination.

For those who crave the open water, whether it’s an ocean or a lake, you’ll want to add the Florida Sea Base and Northern Tier Web sites to your browser’s bookmark list, as well.

Having these sites available will make things much easier for your Scouts at their next program planning session.

OK, now get back to daydreaming.