The original BSA national high adventure base, the rugged ranch land surrounding oilman Waite Phillips’ “Villa Philmonte” was offered to the Scouts starting in 1938. And what a gift it was! Over the years, the land available to the Scouts has grown to encompass 219 square miles of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico. In addition, the Scouts have access to adjoining private, state and federal lands. In other words, no shortage of room to explore!
Our Troop sent three crews of Scouts with adult advisors into the wilderness, all wearing custom-designed blue shirts proudly displaying our pride in our home city. That’s a total of 27 Chicagoans! Each crew selected their own itinerary, ranging from 55 to nearly 80 miles of backpacking over 10 days in the back country.
Philmont is more than a forced march, with many camps along the way which showcase the regional flavor. From petroglyphs left behind by the indigenous people who once inhabited the land, to mining ruins from the prospectors who came in search of riches, there was plenty of history to sample.
And yes, there was hiking too. Covering terrain that varied from scrubby chapparal to alpine zone above 12,000 feet, the Scouts camped in the backcountry every night on trail. A few days into the trip, they got pretty good at hanging the bear bags, finding water and cooking another scrumptious meal of dehydrated food. Pizza seemed to be on everyone’s mind by the halfway point.
More than a vacation, Philmont is a strenuous but incredibly rewarding experience for Scouts that are prepared!
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[PHOTO] Philmont Crew 723-C @philmont