The Amtrak portion of the trip will take approximately 15 hours
with the scouts arriving in Raton, New Mexico at approximately 11
a.m. on Thursday.
This will be the first and last “easy day” the young men have for
the next twelve. The scouts will be trekking through the wild, most
of it in mountainous terrain, for a total of 67 miles.
For those 12 days the boys will work together as a team to navigate
the hike. They will learn just how strong they are, how capable they
are, and how resilient they are when faced with difficult situations
and unexpected twists in their itineraries.
Most days they will be on their own, with their adult leaders they
will spend their nights in campsites they create with no access to
modern amenities, or even any form of civilization. They will be
self-reliant and co-dependent upon one another as a team.
They will hike several miles each day, in all weather conditions.
They will experience hot days, and cold nights, as they set up camps
at elevations that are far above anything they encounter in central
Each scout will carry a fully loaded backpack with all the gear they
need to survive the 12-day experience. On certain days they will
start out in the morning knowing that when they camp for the night,
they will be in a location with no access to water. To prepare, each
scout will add to the load they carry approximately 8 liters of
water, to get them thru the current day and the next.
Though they have conditioned themselves for this big trip, at the
end of the day they will be tired, with sore muscles, and more than
likely a few bumps and scratches. For most of them, this will be the
hardest thing they have ever done.
So, why would they go? According to Scout leader Chris Graue, who is
making this trek for the third time, what the young men will gain
far outweighs the hardships. Graue said that for many, this will be
a life-changing experience. He said it would show them who they are
in a deeper sense, and just what they are capable of doing as an
individual, and also as part of a team.
“For most of the scouts, this could be the first time they have been
away from home for longer than three or four days. No internet, no
WIFI, no X-Box.” Graue said, “We will encounter some type of
difficulty on the hike that will cause us to alter course, change
our routine. Weather, injury of a participant, something will
happen. This is an incredible confidence builder for not only the
boys, but for adults as well. The boys and the adults will be doing
some things that they have never done before and may never do
The Scouts going on the trip include Elijah Burton, Zachary Craig, Evan
Derrick, Jack Graue, Blake Hermes, Caleb Jackson, Carter McCraith,
David Papach, Carter Robison, Zach Smith and William Trent. The
adults accompanying the scouts will be Chris Graue, Dr. Steve
Kottemann, Tim McCraith, Edmund Robison and David Smith.
Among the adults going on the hike is Dr. Steve Kottemann. Dr.
Kottemann is a well-known local family physician, now retired from
practice. In the scout manual for this trip, it states that there
must be members who are trained and certified in first aid. Dr.
Kottemann was asked if he was going on the trip as the team’s medic.
He said that he would certainly help if needed, but that he was
going on the trip, mainly for the experience. He said that he has a
great friendship with the Graue family, and Chris has known for a
while that the doctor was interested in going along. This year, it
was made possible.
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Dr. Kottemann said that as a young Boy Scout, he went on a
comparable trip with his brother. It created memories that he still
enjoys today. He also noted that getting ready to depart was a long
time coming. He noted that those going started months ago training
and preparing for the trip, and those who were organizing, also
spent several hours getting everything together just as it should
Wednesday as the boys arrived at the parking lot of the First
United Methodist Church, they were accompanied by parents and
siblings, and even a few girlfriends, there to see them off.
At 12:15 p.m. Pastor Michael Paulson of the Methodist Church arrived
to send the group off with a prayer. Before he asked for bowed heads
he noted that in the minds of the participants, they were men, but
in the eyes of their parents, they are still little boys. The
parents would be concerned for them, would miss them, and of course,
would pray for their safe return as would the church.
In his prayer, Pastor Paulson asked for safe journeys, but also
noted that the boys would face challenges and uncertainty on some
days. He asked that God lead them in their decisions, and protect
them in their journey.
Then it was time to load up the Boy Scout Bus and head toward
Galesburg. As the boys climbed aboard, those there to send them off
shouted goodbyes, and a few tears were shed, but over-all there was
a great deal of optimism, excitement, pride and support for these
While the boys are gone, LDN will bring daily updates about where
the boys should be on their hike and what they will be doing. While
on the hike, there will be no access to internet or cell phones, so
the kids will not be able to update us, nor will they be able to
Before leaving on the trip, several of the boys were available to
answer questions about the trip, what they have done to prepare, and
what their expectations are. They were asked what they were looking
forward to and what day they find the most intimidating.
In each of the upcoming articles, LDN will include quotes from the
boys about the various aspects of this trip.
Opened in 1939 and originally called the Philburn Rocky Mount Scout
Camp, Philmont Scout Ranch is located in northern New Mexico in the
Sangre de Cristo (Spanish for Blood of Christ) Mountains.
Located on 215 square miles of mountain terrain, elevations
throughout the hike will range from 7,400 feet to 11,650 feet.
During the twelve day experience, the Scouts will spend their nights
at five staffed camps, five trail camps and two “dry camps” with no
access to potable water.
To learn more about the Philmont Camp, view this YouTube video: