When Joe Gibson, a longtime Scout leader in the San Angelo, Texas, area died last January, his family thought long and hard about the best way to memorialize his life.
Then, it came to them: a scholarship to help send Texas Southwest Council Scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch.
“It just fit,” says Monty Gibson, one of Joe’s three Eagle Scout sons. “We realized this is exactly what he would want us to do.”
That’s because sending kids to Philmont was one of Joe’s biggest passions. As a leader of Troop 332, Joe made sure all three of his boys, along with many other kids from both his and nearby troops, got to experience Philmont, often by focusing on fundraising opportunities to make sure no Scout got left behind.
Later last year, Monty, an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Cleveland Browns, had an opportunity to participate in the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative. And again, he found the perfect fit.
Monty designed a pair of shoes that he wore during an NFL game. They featured the image of a trail map resembling those used to navigate around Philmont. Those shoes are now up for auction, with the proceeds going to the Joe A. Gibson scholarship fund.
NFL coaches and players who participate in My Cause My Cleats are given the opportunity to record a video to speak about their cause. Monty had no problem writing his own script, speaking passionately about what Philmont meant to his dad, and to him.
Monty remembers a lot of things about his first trip to Philmont Scout Ranch — the preparation, the scenery and of course the adventure.
But mostly, he remembers the joy of experiencing it with his dad, a former Scout who had never gone to Philmont as a youth.
“He was just enamored with it, and I was having a blast,” says Monty. “So much that I kept going back.”
So did his dad.
Joe was an assistant Scoutmaster for that first trip to Philmont in 1985. He would later become Scoutmaster and bring Monty’s two younger brothers to Philmont as well.
After all of his boys aged out of Scouting, the elder Gibson continued to help kids get to Philmont, often focusing on the fundraising and preparation that would give kids the chance to get there who might otherwise never go.
“When we got off the trail, he said, ‘You’re different boys now than you were when you started,’ ” Monty says. “The camaraderie … the sense of accomplishment … he really valued that. He enjoyed seeing that. And he wanted to make sure other kids got that same opportunity.”
A good cause
Monty developed an interest in weight training when he was in high school. It was another thing he and his dad could do together.
He spent 18 years on the strength and conditioning staff at Texas A&M, where, in addition to working with the football team, he was responsible for overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for the Aggie track and field men’s and women’s sprints and mid-distance runners, as well as the equestrian and men’s tennis teams. He took the job in Cleveland five years ago.
In addition to serving as a Scout leader, Joe Gibson was a policeman, working as a patrolman, detective, internal affairs officer and, eventually, chief of the San Angelo police department.
The scholarship fund helped a couple of Texas Scouts get to Philmont last season. With the added exposure of My Cause My Cleats, they’re hoping to send more next summer, and beyond.
“When I’m back in town, we’ll run into some guys who will say, ‘Hey your daddy did this,’ ” says Monty. “He realized there were some young guys who couldn’t have that adventure. He felt like those 12 days would stick with them forever.”
For Monty, recording that video was an emotional release. He jokes that it’s a good thing he was alone when he watched it for the first time.
“It was a hard year,” he says. “Daddy was such a blessing to us in so many ways. He was my hero in every sense of the word.
“Recording that video was healing. I just thought, ‘Dad we did it. We got it done.’ ”