The morning of July 30, 2015, was just like any other morning atop Philmont’s Tooth of Time. Until it wasn’t.
The sun had just cracked the horizon, and the view from that rocky 9,003-foot summit extended for miles.
Then came something unexpected: two blasts from a kudu horn, the musical instrument used to signal the start of a Wood Badge beading ceremony.
Kreg Schnell (wearing red shoulder loops), an Eagle Scout and Scouter in the Transatlantic Council, was the honoree on this day. The leader with Troop 303 out of Hohenfels, Germany, had taken Wood Badge in 2014 and completed his fifth ticket item in 2015. (To finish Wood Badge, Scouters must complete their ticket — five tasks that give back to Scouting in a meaningful way.)
Schnell had dreamed up this magical location for his beading ceremony a while back. He and his friend Teo Perez, a Scoutmaster from The Hague, Netherlands, knew they’d be taking a Philmont trek together with another adult leader and nine Scouts from troops all over Europe. What better place for the ceremony than atop the rugged Tooth of Time at Philmont?
This was to be the Philmont crew’s final climb on the final day of their trek — a fitting end to two challenging journeys: the 75-mile Philmont trek and Wood Badge.
Perez, in a testament to his friendship with Schnell, carried with him all the Wood Badge paraphernalia needed for a beading ceremony. That’s 75 miles of hiking with the kudu horn, Wood Badge beads, Wood Badge neckerchief, leather woggle, and even an ax and log. Each item has a special significance that gets explained in the ceremony.
Schnell’s ceremony included a tribute from his son, Marius. The Scout said his father was his hero. In a touching moment, Marius went through the Scout Law point by point, outlining the 12 ways his dad embodies those key values.
It was a special moment in a special spot. A true mountaintop experience.
Images via Dano Lister. Story idea via Bryan Hayek/Philmont and Vince Cozzone/Transatlantic Council.