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Poll: Ever been to Philmont Scout Ranch?


If "yes", what activity was the "highlight of highlights" of the trip?

I was there in the early 70s. Order of the Arrow, silence camp for a week. We wore a lil block of wood around our necks, if we said anything part of it was cut away. Highlight of highlights was probably when we earned our badges showing we passed from Eagle Scouts to Order of the Arrow.

Have always wanted to go bak and see the place again.

Been there several times. Best time was probably at the annual Climbing Directors Conference. We get to scramble all over the various rocks around 'Cito and put up new routes - much more interesting and challenging than what the youth get to do there for the "normal" rock climbing activity.

Young Son was a Ranger there 3 or 4 years after he was there on a standard "expedition". He remembers that as one of the best summers of his life.

Nope, haven't been.

I didn't become active with BSA until after I finished school.

I currently help out with the local troop by teaching simple things like how to pack a pack, how to filter water, etc. For me the most fun is to go on overnight trips with them to the mountains, I enjoy loaning gear to the boys who are just getting started!

Yes went in the mid 90's. The whole trip was a highlight for me, but if I had to choose one moment it would be standing on top of Baldy mountain as the highlight. We woke up early that morning from our camp and went up the mountain. We had lunch there and read some of the notes left in the wind walls, left one of our own, then headed back to camp. The 10 mile hike the rest of the day was long after that hike up the mountain, but what an amazing experience it was!


Were you not allowed to do Order of the Arrow before you achive Eagle by your troop? I actually did my OA at Camp Old Indian in Greenville, SC. I was a star or life scout at that point though.

Yes. I was there in '76 and '78. I hope to return again when my son is old enough.

The most memorable part of the first trip was sharing our beef stroganoff lunch with a mama bear and her two young cubs. We were going to camp that night at the Tooth of Time (which is a dry camp), so we stopped where there was water to cook our dinner meal for lunch and then eat our lunch meal for dinner at the campsite. We had just started to eat our food when mama and her two cubs came over the hill behind us and finished it off for us. She then took the trash bag and left the same way they came. There were no leftovers to clean up.

The view from Baldy is pretty good. At the top, we met a group of Rangers on their training trek who had hiked up one side in full pack and were preparing to go down the other side with 15 more miles to go. We were amazed that they could make it up there let alone keep on going that far. It was tough enough getting up there without a pack.

Every Scout should get a chance to experience Philmont.


I share jmcwatty's puzzlement. OA is supposed to be election by your peers in the troop, based on your being an "outstanding" camper (which includes service to others, particularly teaching younger scouts camping skills during overnight backpacks). The requirement is a certain number of overnights, of which a certain number are to be in the past year (to show you are currently actively camping). There is no rank requirement per se. As it happens, I was "pushed out" while I was a junior counselor at our Council's summer camp, because my troop was not really participating in OA ("Push Out" is currently forbidden, because some of the "pushes" were pretty forceful. It is now "Tap Out", signalled by a light tap in the campfire ceremony).

-- Bill (Wachtschu Achpamsin)

Okay, so, sounds like Mt. Baldy is one highlight. Excuse me if we leave the up-close-and-personal with the bears for someone else.

A crew from our troop is going to Philmont in July, and we'll be selecting our "trek" in late March, I think. Lots of options, with lots of different activities available.

We'll be restricting our choice to those of the less-challenging sort, since some of our Scouts are less experienced than others. Even the least challenging will be plenty.

We're really looking forward to the trip.

Perry, no matter what trek you guys choose, I can promise you it will be one of those experiences that you will never forget. There are multiple different activities to do at the different "base camps." I remember on our tenth of twelve nights, we went it to a camp where they had root beer for sale for like 25 cents a mug. I don't like root beer nor have I drank it since then. However after ten days of pretty much nothing but water to drink. Well yo get the idea... It was the best stuff on earth!

Snow Goose,

I remember going up on that loose stone you would take one step up and slide three steps back if not carefull. So worth it though.

For a crew with first-timers, the more fun activities at the staffed camps depend somewhat on their interests. When I was adult advisor (and please, please, please remember that the adult advisors are supposed to be advisors, not running the expedition - it is supposed to be youth-led, with the adults as a "last resort safety"), some of the youth thought the fly-tying and fishing was just great, while others were not very interested - actually bored is the word. The gold panning bombed, though the "mine tour" on the same day was a big hit. On the other hand, they all thought the Indian Village, with arrowhead making (flint napping) was great, as was the Mountain Man stop, the horseback riding at Beaubien, the rock climbing at Cimmaroncito (though Young Son and one other who were already good climbers thought this was pretty mild), and the hike up Trail Peak (exploring the wreck of the B-25, plus the traditional standing on the wing "ceremony"). The real super-highlight was the hike to arrive at the top of the Tooth of Time to view the dawn and sunrise coming up over the plains. That involved a couple hours hike in the dark from the dry camp of the night before.

The itinerary the youth chose had this as the start of the last day back into Base Camp. The Scout in the photo was the Crew Leader (and one of the best SPLs during the time I was SM of the troop).

The youth really got into the 2 conservation projects we did (each crew is supposed to do a service project during the trek). In some ways, this was a bit of a surprise, though a very happy one for me personally. And all the youth on that particular trek did conservation or environmental projects for their Eagle projects over the next 2 years (all 8 finished their Eagle).

Our itenarary did not allow us to go by the tooth of time. I would love to go back and see it up close


The (two) adults that will be on the trek will be there primarily to (a) recommend safe procedures (as necessary) for what the boys choose to do, and (b) pick up the pieces when the boys don't do (a). [Not saying we'll just let 'em decide to climb unsafely and "learn from their mistakes" by plummeting to their deaths, just that we'll let 'em learn from mistakes within some reasonable bounds.]

Everyone with whom I've spoken has volunteered that a Philmont trip is a lifetime highlight, and we're hoping that proves to be the case. The boys are working on conditioning already (some more than others, of course, but that's to be expected; we're actively encouraging them weekly in this), and we've got some "shake down" activities coming up that will work out some kinks, we hope.

We have consciously decided not to seek much in the way of "extra" challenge beyond the basic itinerary profile until we get there and are in action, assessing as we go. More is NOT better is more or less our credo. Similar to the notion of tackling only a few sites one really wants to see when visiting a new city instead of seeing how much can be crammed in, just to say we saw it/did it. I will brook no counsel stating after the fact that we "certainly should've done X", or are "insane for not doing Y" while we were there. We'll be trying to let the boys make the best choices (with some modest guidance if necessary) they can make, recognizing that perfection is unattainable.

Now, that all said, I'm obviously looking for suggestions/guidance from you guys who've been there, such that I can give the best possible input to the Scouts come their decision time. So much thanks to all for same.

Perry, Although, I cant remeber the exact route we took when we went out there, I do remember good knowledge of map and compass use was almost a must. We did however go into what I think is the Barker wildlife area(which had just been opened up for use by Philmont) so there were no real trails. But, if my memeory serves me correctly we had to do quite a bit of orienting within the ranch itself.

MAN, I NEED TO GO BACK! you got me pulling out the old map and everything.

I will see if I can get in touch with my SM. He still takes groups out there every couple years. He may be able to give me some ideas to pass along to you.

Have I ever been to Philmont? Three Times!

The highlight for me was finally doing something I always wanted to do as a youth, and taking my son there at the same time.

This Summer I may be on STAFF!

Visit my website: PHILMONT PhilSongs Songbook
HOmE page:

The songs listed in the Philmont Songbooks contain ALL the lyrics from the CD’s produced for the Philmont Scout Ranch.

* Philsongs - Remembered Days
* Rod Taylor - Ridin' Down the Canyon
* A Philmont Collection by Rod Taylor
* The Tobasco Donkeys - Sawin' on the Strings
* Live From the Tooth - Philsongs II
* The Rifters
* The D.O.B.T. - The Tennessee Boys
* Tobasco Donkeys - 'The Yarn Sessions' album, order at
* Coming SOON: The Rayado Ruffians

All downloadable song lyrics are found on the 'Lyrics Download' page and nicely formatted for printing.

There now is a copy of the 1988 Philmont Songbook on my website, it is a PDF version.

Go ahead and download a copy of any of the songbooks and print them out for your self.

On the Scouting Fun Page:
There are also some other goodies...
that I have either Created,
Made Major Improvements To...
or Completely Misappropriated.

David Lagesse ~ ~ pineapplefish56

Visit me on facebook and MySpace

Thanksgiving, 1974. Made a nice loop up to Baldy, probably the coldest night I've ever spend.

Was at PSR in 2008. Baldy is, indeed, a highlight. When choosing treks, give thought to one that allows you to summit Baldy from a camp in Copper Canyon. This is a longer, but more easily climbed route with great views along the approach. It gives the scouts a better sense of where they are going. Plus, depending on the time of year, there are nice snow fields along the way. It also affords photo ops of the crew with Baldy in the immediate background. The alternative is to summit from Baldy Town. This is an arduous route in terms of steepness, lacks views, and the boys can't see how close or how far they are from the summit. Enjoy your trek...

Yes, the entire trip was exciting. The hike up to Baldy was awesome. The most memorable part of the trip was when the scouts got a little turned around and they had to figure out their mistakes and correct them and by the time we made it to camp that night at approximately 10:00. It was so great to see the boys use the skills they had learned and make it to the camp. The lessons learned have benefitted all of them to this day.

Someday I really hope to go back with maybe my son again.


My comment about "youth-led" was not aimed at you, but a more general caution/advisory. When my son was a Ranger, he observed some crews that were ruled with an iron hand by the adults (and guess what? those crews somehow did not have as much fun!) and some where the adults seemed completely disinterested to the point that the youth were at a fair amount of risk (and guess what? they had a bunch of scared kids who were ready to bail). Your philosophy sounds right - the youth will make mistakes. That's how they learn after all. If the adults provide advice and backup (and a safety net to keep physical injuries to scratches and minor bruises), the kids will come out at the end as more mature young men (and women, for the Venturing Crews). Most of the crews seem to do it pretty much this way. But for the few who don't, I will again beg - please remember it is supposed to be "youth-led" with the adults as "advisors" and safety net. You will all have more fun.

The only bad comments Young Son got as a Ranger were from 2 adult advisors (same crew) who felt he was out of line suggesting that the youth should be leading. This came out of the initial on-trail Ranger briefing where your Ranger will talk to the whole group of youth with specific comments and advice given to the youth who is Crew Leader, with the adults invited to sit on the periphery and observe (these two adults felt they should be getting a private briefing out of earshot of the youth).

In the end, it comes down to "Who is this trip for, anyway?" I would contend that it is for the whole group, but primarily for the youth. It really should not be "dad is taking his son hiking in Philmont."

And I think, Perry, your idea that it should be about the activities and not the miles is exactly right on.


Just wanted to echo what you said, and indicate our approach to same. Thanks for emphasizing, though; I, too, think it's important.


Map & compass skills are something I'm harping on pretty much all the time. I'm pretty comfortable with same, and we'll be doing some work with the boys again on the topic before we go. Thanks for the reminder, though. Never hurts.


Sounds like Baldy is the most popular highlight. (Reminds me: I gotta get a haircut....) We'll likely be trying to set up a trek that allows for a day hike up to the summit of same. The boys haven't yet indicated much in the way of preferences for the trip, but I'm sure that such will start coming out as we look at the specific opportunities available on various itineraries.

Yes, I was there with my son in '07 and will go with my other son this year.

The highlight of the first trip- there were many. The best was watching the boys go from inexperienced youth hikers to much more accomplished and self-sufficient by the end of the trek. The trip was 95+miles over 10 days and culminated in a Baldy Mt. summit.

I was at Philmont in August 2007. Its funny that I found this thread i was just talking about Philmont with one of crew mates today. Having just received my Eagle scout, and the end of my youth scouting, I have to say that Philmont was THE defining moment of my scouting career. From the way it sounds i can tell you and your son are going to have a great time. Honestly, the parts of PSR i remember the most are the things you couldn't have planned for. for Example getting caught in a squall during lunch and walking the rest of the day soaking wet. (it basically rains every day around 3 during the later summer months) It may not sound fun but that really brought our crew together. As far as recommended activities i would go to a campfire skit (crater lake for south country i don't know where the north is). Get your boots branded, you will regret it if you don't. Mt. Baldy. As far as other activities its up to your crew to decide what they like to do and how athletic/ in shape they are. My only regret was that my crew did a longer distance hike and we didn't get to experience all of what PSR had to offer. We were sorta rushed through a lot of activities but even that had its benefits. we had more time on the trail so we got to see more of the reservation than most people. In short its all about what you like to do. In Philmont its hard not to have a good time.

Now see, there we go! Boot branding! I just knew someone was gonna come up with something I'd not anticipated!


Sorry I forgot to mention Boot Branding (and hat and leather knife sheath, and whatever else you feel like). A warning, though - only brand real leather! If you have fabric boots or boots with a large plastic surface and are not very very careful, you can put a hole right through, ruining the boots for the rest of the trip. I branded my "sun hat", intending to only scorch it, but ended with large "PS" (Bar P Crazy S, the cattle brand) and "/S" (Slash Crazy S, the horse brand) holes in the brim. The camps with branding are Beaubien (I recommend an itinerary with this camp very strongly), Clark's Fork, and Ponil. The "PS" of the cattle brand stands for Philmont Scout Ranch, and the "Crazy S" of the horse brand stands for "Scouts". "Philmont", of course, is short for Waite Phillips ranch in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The Phillips family made their fortune in oil in Oklahoma (Phillips 66). Waite's twin brother was named Wiate (pronounced Wyatt, while Waite is pronounced Wait). One of the conditions of Phillips donations of the land for Philmont Scout Ranch was that it continue to be a working cattle ranch. So at the staffed "western" camps, one of the big features is the barbecue featuring Philmont beef (along with the cowboy chuckwagon show).

This is the Philmont cattle brand on a knife sheath about 4 inches long, the branding done at Beaubien in 1994.

Pretty cool, Bill, thanks. I also like the story about the hat. I'd simply assumed we were talking of branding only leather items, but I can see the temptation to try it on all sorts of things: hats, jeans, packs--you name it, I suppose.

I'll also keep in mind the Beaubien recommendation. Cool name, at least.

I have been to Philmont twice. My first time was on a R.O.C.S (roving outdoor conservation school) trip. Which I highly recommend if anyone's kids are interested in going but there troop cannot get a spot. There are almost always available spots on the crews and it is so much fun. I was 16 and got to spend 3 weeks strait on the trail. I wish I could still swing that kind of vacation time. The second time I was there I was on staff at Cimarancito in 2005. It certainly gave me a different view of the ranch and opened up a lot more hiking possibilities that are not available to normal crew members. My favorite moment was while I was working my friend Teck and I got off work one night after evening program and started out on the trail. we only hiked about 2 miles but we got to a spot east of 'cito. (I can't remember the name now) We crashed on top of a rock for the night and were well rewarded by my favorite sunrise of all time. We had to book it around the rest of the loop to be back on time for work the next day. Totally worth getting chewed out for being late Ha! I want to go back to Philmont!

December 1, 2020
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