10 reasons why you simply won’t want to miss the 2019 National Outdoor Conference

Boy Scouts of America volunteers and professionals are relentless in their pursuit of outdoor programs that are exhilarating, enriching and safe.

That explains the popularity of the National Outdoor Conference, held every other year at Philmont Scout Ranch. This September, volunteers and professionals from across the country will travel to the mountains of New Mexico to discover the latest methods for delivering unforgettable outdoor experiences.

They’ll select from more than 100 elective sessions, hear inspiring keynote speakers, check out the latest outdoor gear, connect with fellow Scouters, and return home equipped and energized.

And they’ll do it all at an ideal location. Philmont Scout Ranch, the legendary Scouting paradise in New Mexico, proudly calls itself the “world’s largest camp.”

So why consider attending the 2019 National Outdoor Conference? I’ve narrowed the list of compelling reasons down to 10.

But before the “why,” let’s quickly cover the “what,” “when,” “where” and “who’s invited.”

What: 2019 National Outdoor Conference

When: The conference opens at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, and ends after breakfast on Sunday, Sept. 29. That’s three-and-a-half days and four nights.

Where: Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, which proudly calls itself the “world’s largest camp.”

Who’s invited: Anyone involved in outdoor program delivery at any level of the program. That means Scout executives, directors of support services, program directors, rangers, camp directors, council presidents and council program vice presidents. Anyone who chairs a committee on council and district camping, conservation, aquatics or COPE/climbing should also plan to be there, as should properties chairpersons and other volunteers or professionals responsible for delivery of outdoor programs.

1. You can customize everything.

Attendees will select up to 12 workshop sessions from a list of more than 100 options — all taught by subject matter experts.

You won’t need to preregister for individual sessions. Simply show up and get the knowledge you crave.

See the list of options in this conference flyer.

2. There’s something for everyone.

No matter which “Scouting hats” you’ll wear this year, you’ll find dozens of sessions that directly apply to you.

Sessions are divided into one of seven “trails.” (Note: You can mix and match, selecting sessions from more than one trail.)

  • Enterprise Risk Management Trail
  • Facility Management Trail
  • Human Resources Trail
  • Management and Administration Trail
  • Marketing and Promotions Trail
  • National Adventures Trail
  • Program Administration Trail

3. You can geek out on the details.

Don’t expect a superficial overview of outdoor programs. Each workshop session will dive deep to give you practical tips for solving your council’s toughest challenges.

Learn how to better manage the paperwork for your seasonal staff. Discover why zero-impact hammock camping could be right for your camp. See how a better fishing program could help you recruit and retain more Scouts.

In the outdoors, the details matter.

4. You’ll learn from experts.

National- and council-level experts teach the elective workshops, with many bringing decades of experience to their sessions.

At the three general sessions, all attendees will be inspired and enlightened by the 2019 National Outdoor Conference keynote speakers:

  • Michael Surbaugh: Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America
  • Dr. Deborah Gilboa: Parenting expert who will deliver a talk called “Why Camp Makes People Stressed and How Camp Can Help”
  • Tom Rosenberg: CEO of the American Camp Association

5. You’ll learn from other Scouters.

At conferences I’ve attended, I find myself learning as much from my fellow attendees as I do from the sessions themselves.

High-quality presenters attract high-quality attendees.

The same will be true at the National Outdoor Conference, where your fellow volunteers and professionals will be eager to listen to your ideas and share their own.

Additionally, the conference will offer an area for councils to share literature and materials with others. You can show off your council’s best program ideas and pick up something new from another council.

6. There’s an app.

A conference app, new for 2019, will help attendees keep track of their schedule and find their way around using their smartphones.

Now that’s smart.

7. You’ll get to enjoy Philmont’s backcountry.

No trip to Philmont is complete without some time in Philmont’s backcountry.

That’s why organizers cleared the schedule after lunch on Saturday to give attendees an afternoon of fun.

More than a dozen options are available. Explore Philmont’s trails on a mountain bike, hike to Lover’s Leap or take a driving tour of Philmont’s backcountry camps.

As with everything else at the conference, the choice is yours.

8. You can test the latest gear.

Exhibits are open Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning for attendees to check out the latest products and services from some of the world’s best outdoor companies.

Test the latest gear before making purchase recommendations to your council.

9. You can add on preconference courses.

Maximize your time at Philmont by adding on a preconference course. Add on a course like advanced photography, chain saw training or the marketing boot camp.

This extra time is certain to be time well spent.

10. It’s at Philmont.

This cannot be emphasized enough. You should take any excuse you can get to spend time at Philmont, a signature Scouting destination.

September’s a great time to be there, with crisp nights and warm days expected.

Register for the 2019 National Outdoor Conference today

Use this link to learn more, and follow this link to register.

If you’re planning to attend, consider registering soon. Thanks to the National Outdoor Conference’s “daybreaker” deal, any attendee who signs up by June 30 will receive a special vest.

This incentive ends at 12:01 a.m. on July 1.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.