Troop 102

Where in the wild is Troop 102?
Day three

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[July 01, 2016]  LINCOLN - Today is Friday, June 17th. It is the third calendar day Troop 102 has been on their great adventure to New Mexico. On their itinerary, this is the first official day of their 12-day hike. Members of Troop 102 arrived at the Philmont Scout Ranch Base Camp yesterday, and their first night was an easy one. They began today with some preliminary work before they take off on the first stint of the 67-mile hike tomorrow (Saturday).

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 by Philmont.

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 Lincoln.

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 services.”

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 internet]

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