Before they are allowed to start their hike, some tasks will have
to be completed. Philmont Headquarters is a staffed location, with
rangers that the young men will meet and work with in the future.
To go on the hike, the Scouts, as well as their adult leaders, have
been advised to condition themselves for what lies ahead. They have
been required to have a physical exam and to bring that exam report
with them to camp.
One big event today will be their weigh-in for youth as well as the
adults. As an example, a five-feet-tall Scout should weigh between
97 and 138 pounds. The maximum weight that will be permitted is 166
pounds. A six-feet-tall scout’s optimum weight should be between 140
and 199 pounds. The maximum acceptable weight shall be no more than
239 pounds. For members under the age of 21, the camp physicians may
make exceptions to the weight restrictions depending on their
professional opinion of the hiker’s health and the level of
difficulty in the itinerary.
For the adults age 21 and over, there are no exceptions. If any of
the five in attendance from Troop 102 exceed their weight-to-height
ratio, they will not be permitted to hike.
In order to be in shape for this trip, members of Troop 102 have
been working out and hiking for the past six months, as recommended
Scout Blake Hermes noted that he had walked with a full backpack
several miles a day, every day to be prepared. Carter McCraith said
he prepared by swimming over the winter, playing tennis and running
this spring. He also noted that the troop went on a 20-mile practice
hike in April. Zachary Craig also hiked with a loaded backpack, plus
he chose to participate in a workout routine at Anytime Fitness in
The adult leaders also spent plenty of time getting prepared
physically. Leader David Smith noted what he did to prepare. “I
started walking four miles a day over a year ago and pushing myself
to walk at a four mile per hour pace and to be as active as
possible. Late winter this year I began to backpack and worked over
a month carrying a 50-pound pack and pushed myself to a 3 1/2 mph
pace. Over the last month, I have gone out to the Lincoln Rec Center
and worked out on the Stair Climbers and the Elliptical and pushed
myself hard on a cardio workout.”
Even though the members are
physically fit, they will still face some physical challenges. Not
the least of these will be the change in altitude. Lincoln is
recorded as 590 feet above sea level. According to the camp
itinerary, the lowest elevation the scouts will be at in New Mexico
is 7,100 feet above sea level at the Base Camp. Therefore, on day
one, some of them will notice the change in how they breathe, and
they will fatigue at a quicker pace than here at home.
For Friday, in addition to meeting the physical requirements for the
trip, the scout will meet the rangers who work at the camp. The
Philmont guide book explains the role of the ranger in the success
of the troop hike:
“Trail wise and well
versed in the latest camping and hiking techniques and Philmont
lore, these hardy young men, and women play a vital role in helping
your crew be successful on the trail. Rangers are trained to show
respect to the Advisors - they deserve the same as they coach the
Crew Leader and crew on Philmont’s backcountry hiking and camping
procedures. They come from some of the best Scout Troops and
Venturing Crews in America. A mark of a well prepared crew is when
the Ranger can stay in the background while assisting the crew. Your
Ranger will be a great friend and mentor. He or she will remain with
the crew for the first three days at Philmont.”
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There will also be mandatory meetings for the Advisors or adult
leaders, the Crew Leader, Chaplain’s Aide, and the Wilderness Pledge
Guia (Spanish for Guide). The guide book states:
“The Advisors get
last minute information (all adults should attend the advisors
orientation); the Crew Leader learns crew organization skills; the
Chaplain’s Aide becomes the crew motivator, and the Wilderness
Pledge Guia learns responsibilities for helping the crew achieve
wilderness ethics standards.
“By 6:45 p.m., everyone is back together and off to Chapel Services
conducted each evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Catholic, Jewish,
Protestant, and LDS traditions. The Tooth of Time Traders and all
Base Camp functions close so as not to interfere with religious
The troop will also learn about the Wilderness Pledge, and one
member of the crew will become the Wilderness Pledge Guia. As such,
that scout will assure that the crew maintains safe practices that
do not harm the environment, and will show respect for future hikers
by leaving the land as they found it.
The pledge is very specific:
The Wilderness Pledge
LITTER and GRAFFITI — Each camper should make sure that all trails
and campsites are left neat and clean. Camping Headquarters should
be left in a like manner.
WILDLIFE — Respect Philmont's wildlife, including livestock. Follow
all guidelines regarding food handling and trash disposal. Never
feed or harass wild animals.
WATER — You are in a land where water is scarce and very precious.
Conservation and wise use of water has been practiced since the
first man entered this land. You must continue this proper use. You
should never bathe, do laundry, or dishes in or near springs or
streams. Everyone needs water, and you should always leave springs
and streams as clean as you found them.
TRAILS — Pledge yourself to respect all trails of Philmont. Do not
cut green boughs or trees, or mark on them. Do not cut across
switchbacks and do not alter or change trail signs.
CAMPSITES — Camp only in sites designated with a numbered wood block
sign. Each crew is responsible for leaving a neat and orderly
campsite, whether it is in Camping Headquarters, staffed camps, or
trail camps. Your campsite must be left litter free with its latrine
and sumps clean. Carry out all trash. Fires must be left DEAD OUT
and then cleaned of debris before you depart. Leave a courtesy
woodpile when possible. You should respect the feelings of those
crews camping near you and those that will come after you.
Leave No Trace camping is practiced on Philmont and all neighboring
properties utilized by Philmont. These techniques along with the
Wilderness Pledge keep Philmont pristine and natural.
At the end of the day, the troop will join other scouts from around
the country who are at Philmont for the Opening Campfire event.
[Nila Smith / Photo taken from