Why does Philmont call its groups ‘crews’ and not ‘patrols’?

expertlogo1At Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, groups of seven to 12 individuals unite to take on the challenging adventures awaiting them in the backcountry.

But first thing’s first. What do we call them?

These groups at Philmont are called crews, a fact that made Wakefield, Mass., assistant Scoutmaster Jeff Crump a little curious. He writes:

Hi Bryan,

I just got back from an amazing trip to Philmont, but something is puzzling me. At Philmont, they refer to each group of people that goes out on the trail at Philmont as a “crew” and not “patrol.” Yes, it’s trivial, but I’m curious as to why that terminology was chosen.


Jeff Crump
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 701

It’s an interesting question and one I hadn’t thought to ask. Until now.

I went to the wise and smartly named Bryan Hayek, Philmont’s marketing manager.

Here’s what Bryan had to say:

While crews and patrols behave similarly, their makeup is quite different.

The Patrol

This information comes straight from the BSA website:

The patrol is a group of Scouts who belong to a troop and who are probably similar in age, development and interests. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in a small group outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success. A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be. Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.

Patrol size depends upon a troop’s enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is eight Scouts. Patrols with fewer than eight Scouts should try to recruit new members to get their patrol size up to the ideal number.

The Crew

Participants at Philmont, Northern Tier and Florida Sea Base all form crews before beginning their adventure. Each High Adventure crew is required to have a minimum of two adults and all youth must be at least 14 or 13 and have completed the 8th grade. At Philmont, crews consist of seven to 12 individuals. Northern Tier and Florida Sea Base crew sizes fluctuate slightly depending on the type of program. Scouting units may form crews on their own but it’s also possible to join a contingent crew hosted by a council. Contingent crews make it possible for smaller units to band together and form complete crews.

Once formulated, High Adventure crews behave similar to a patrol. Each crew has a crew leader that helps the crew share duties and make good decisions through out their adventure. Adult advisors are available to offer additional guidance and mentorship if necessary.

So patrols and crews share some similarities, but the manner in which they’re formed and their functions differ. Hope that clears it up!

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Photo from Philmont’s Facebook page

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.