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

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

“He jumped for joy when he cleared the medical check at base camp,” his Troop 222 colleague David Falloure told me. “He was the most fit guy on the trek, and he continues walking each day even though the trip is over.”

Kent (left) reached the summit of his Philmont dream with his son Luke.

Weeks after returning from that unforgettable trek, Kent is now down to 211 pounds — “and counting,” adds David.

How did Kent do it? His story can serve as a model to other Scouters looking to slim down for Philmont, Northern Tier, the Summit or any other once-in-a-lifetime Scouting adventure.

It was “pure dedication,” David says. “He began walking in December. Very quickly he adapted to an extended route that took him 14-plus miles every day.”

Seeing the same man take daily walks around the neighborhood didn’t go unnoticed.

We live in a small community inside Houston,” David says. “Kent became the talk of the town because residents always saw him walking his route. And by March or April, the visible signs of weight loss were clear.”

Kent didn’t change his diet, David says. The weight-loss secret was simply a dedication to daily exercise.

“Rain or shine he walked,” David says. “Hot or cold he walked.”

As Kent racked up the miles (more than 900 of them) David was recovering from a March auto-pedestrian accident that put his spot on the Philmont trek in jeopardy. But David wasn’t going to let Kent have all the fun.

“The injuries almost kept me from going,” he says. “But we mutually encouraged one another and — voila — Kent lost the weight. When he came out of the medical check at base camp, he was lit up like a kid.

“He hugged all of the adult advisors of our crew. And then, 10 days later, he stood on the Tooth of Time with his son, having fulfilled a promise to go to Philmont with him.”


  1. Good golly, at an average pace, wouldn’t that be 4 hours of walking a day? Kudos to him for finding that chunk of time. The goal was definitely worth the effort.

  2. Great story! Of all the statistics we’ve seen on the recent Jamboree, I’d like to see the total weight lost by Scouters so they could serve on staff. I would be willing to bet it’s in the tens of thousands, if not more.

    • Lisa,
      I lost 49.7 pounds before going to the Summit as a Scoutmaster for our contingent. I was 2 pounds over the maximum allowed on Jan 21st. I changed my diet and completed P90X and also Insanity. I got up at 5 am each day to exercise and them went to bed at 9pm. Walking and hiking at the Summit was simple for me. I had to wait often on others as I walked too fast for the Scouts and the other leaders.

      • Good for you Ed! Just goes to show you can do it, if you want to badly enough. I had done my weight loss earlier (no, I’m not posting the number!), but had stepped up my daily walking routine before the Summit. I thought I was prepared, but it was still more walking than I expected (120 miles+). The good news is my “hard” routine before I left is now easy, and we just have to keep it up until 2017!

  3. Taking the Scout Oath seriously. I wish more Scouters would see “physically strong” as equally important to the Oath as “morally straight.” Obesity and it’s health risks are the number one medical condition in the U.S. BSA lead the way! Great work Kent! Wonderful inspiration.

  4. Congrats, Kent! I’ve just started the same process so I’ll be in good shape to go to Northern Tier with my son in a couple of years. Taking a long canoe trip with my son has been a dream of mine since before he was born.

  5. I had a similar experience back in 2001. I wanted to return to Philmont and hike it with my son (my youth trip was back in 1967). Although at age 48 and 6′ 3″ in height I was within 10 lbs of my high school football playing weight, I went from 310 down to 238 lbs in a 7 month period to meet the height/weight matix of the time. My plan was daily walks & biking, daily stair climbing at my office parking garage and strict diet. My base camp physical wasn’t as jubilant as my blood pressure at camp was too high for the practitioner who kindly asked me to rest on the couch and each subsequent reading was higher than the previous reading. I have a history of “white coat syndrome” and my base camp physical was the most anticipated medical exam of my life. The white coat and quick altitude change (24 hours) from 200′ home elevation all probably contributed to the higher bp readings. The supervising physician interviewed me and compared my previous year Class 1 physical (310 lb) vs. the current physical at 238 lbs and asked me to drop by after lunch for another bp reading. The later reading was more in line and he released me for the trek with a stern warning for me (and the crew) to watch for any signs of heart stress. I did fine on the trek and treasure the photo of my son and myself at the top of Baldy.

  6. What a great story! Instead of complaining about “being excluded” from scouting events (per the recent media coverage), this committed Dad took responsibility for himself and got serious about his commitments! Great job, Kent! BTW, my husband made the same commitment to get in shape and he and our son just had “the experience of a lifetime” together in Philmont! I honor and thank all Dads who commit to this and assure you, your sons will cherish these memories forever and share them with generations to come! Isn’t that just fantastic?

  7. Get story and well done Kent. Back in 2008 I went to Philmont with my son, I never had the chance to go as a youth. Prior to the trip, I lost 46 pounds by a combination of diet and exercise. The day we stepped on to the trail, my pack weighed in at 46 pounds, the same amount that I had lost. Picking up the pack and strapping in on my back, it was hard to believe that I had been carrying that weight before.

  8. Congratulations, Kent! I had a similar journey this past year to make the weight for Philmont. As soon as I left the medical re-check, I called my wife to tell her the news. All the late nights at the gym in the months leading up to the trek had paid off and I was going to be on the trail with my son! She was ecstatic to hear the good news. I was even ten pounds less than the weight on my physical at the medical re-check! Now, I need to continue the quest so I can go with my other son!

    Hugh Hughes

  9. Congratulations, Kent!! Now the hard work- to keep up a healthy lifestyle. My daughter invited me on the Philmont Staff Association celebration trek this year. It would be my 7th time on the Philmont trails. However, since 2009 (my last trek) my weight had gone up to 225-230 pounds and I am only 5’8″ Starting in early spring, I dieted and walked (not 14 miles like you but about an hour daily) and by my physical I was under 200 on my scale but 203 on doctor’s (more clothes). But under the 5’7″ weight limit (Doctor never gets 5’8″ any more – always 5’7 and a fraction). I am still at it and am now down to 184. Shooting for 175. I plan to start running and hope to do a marathon in 2014. (maybe another Trek, too). Lifestyle change (particularly Diet) will be key to sustaining the weight loss. I was inspired by a leader in the Effective RTs course at PTC with me who lost over 100 pounds!!!

    Dave Lyons
    2013 – 713 – PS2 trek

  10. Weight loss is actually dangling in my mind (despite the joy of finding clearance uniform shirts). My first step is going to be easy (I hope, but I know I’m fooling myself). Swap out all my sodas and super sweet southern tea for water. I have a few years before I must be ready (my son is only a Wolf Cub) but I’m already dreaming of Philmont and a Jamboree with my son.

    • I would definitely recommend starting now Leanna!! I thought I had time, and it flew by! My son is now a Webelos 2 and bridges to Boy Scouts in 8 months. My journey begins NOW, 90 lbs for me to be at a fighting weight but I do not want to get left behind on all the fun! Good luck to you! 🙂

  11. Perhaps the BSA should have that for a future theme for a year, “Physically fit – both youth and adults”. But then again what would the media have to bash the BSA. They would have to find something else new to complain about.

  12. I applaud the dad. Last year, I lost over 50 lbs so I could attend a Philmont Trek in 2012 with my Scout Troop. The effort was totally worth it and having a goal makes it much easier.

  13. I dropped 65 lbs to go to Philmont from 295 to 230. I did this in 18 months and the trip was worth the effort.

  14. Way to go! A great accomplishment

    If only more of our adult Scouters took on a challenge to exemplify “physically strong” to our youth.

  15. My son is a webelos 2 now, and I know he is already planning to do high adventure. So, I figured I better start now. I’m 6’3″. I started on Christmas at 360 and right now I’m 272. I am hoping to be down in the 230’s before the end of the year. So – I’ll have 4 yrs or so to get myself in even better shape.

    I joined a gym which I go to just about every day and changed my eating habits to healthier and more wholistic foods.

    Thanks for the story!

  16. For my first Philmont trek in 2010, I was 50 years old and I was proud that I got my 5’8″ body down to 185 lbs. I thought I was in decent shape — but that altitude, and the fast pace of those teenagers, was tough than I thought it would be. So over the next four years, I kept at it, and did our 2014 trek a couple of weeks ago with two sons at 150 lbs!! It was much easier for me at 54 years old than it was at 50!

  17. My son went to Philmont. Our Troop informed me they had enough leaders and added another adult after my request. Politics! In the last 11 months I went from morib obese at 310 pounds to under 200. Over 120 pounds in a year. My son did NAYLE and during his graduation the Course Director was so impressed by my success that he invited me to be part of 720 PLC 2014 Contingent.

    It was the best experience. We were the first PLC Contingent to use the new Rayado Ridge and also Zastro. We were in the company of walking legends, literally. Including staff from the original Walking Wood Badge Course. It is a honor to be part of Philmont history and see stories like this one.


    • Awesome achievement Alan. Scouts (and scouters) can always use a positive example of how to lose weight effectively and safely. If I did the math right, you lost an average of just over 2.3 lbs weekly. From what I’ve read that’s a safe amount. Without prying much, was that diet and exercise?

  18. Great job Kent. I too used a big trip (2015 World Jamboree) as motivation to get in better shape. While I started within the weight limit, I lost 45 pounds in the past 18 months to get fit so I wouldn’t be a drag on the contingent and could fully experience Japan. Walking, twice-weekly strength training, and taking time to eat better. I should have done it 20 years ago.

  19. I’m just a mom but I wanted to be more fit so I COULD accompany my scout son on family events instead of sitting in the shade waiting for everyone’s return. I’ve lost 9 pounds by eliminating things like fries and getting just the sandwich and water with fast food. ( I travel for work and can’t cook or take lunch. ) Eating fresh fruit in lieu of chips has helped, too.

    • It can be done, but you probably shouldn’t hold yourself to the standards in this article. Frankly the math doesn’t add up in the story so I’d take it as more inspirational than practical for generalized weight loss. It sounds like you’re on the right track. I’ve been told “you can’t outrun your fork in this calorie dense age” so the battle begins in the kitchen or at the (fast-food) counter. Doesn’t mean you can’t jump in on the less strenuous activities (including walking part of a trail instead of none) and work your way up. Best of luck!

  20. Awesome story! We leave for our trek on August 10 and since last year I am down 38 lbs. Half of what this guy did, but more than enough to make weight. I walk two miles a day at lunch, watch what I eat, and do Cross Fit regularly. The motivation was not to go to Philmont, but to go to Philmont with my son.

  21. Only issue I have is their weights are bogus limits. I’m 74 inches and weigh 280, run 20 miles a week and weight lift 5 days a week.
    This weight is only 30lbs more than when I was jumping out of planes for uncle sam at 19 years old and hadn’t fully grown up yet.
    They need new/better standards. Body weight isn’t a good gauge of fitness.

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