A long way from home

Photographed by Alex Cenci. 

Before dawn, a string of headlamps illuminated the trail from Upper Greenwood. 

The Scouts walked sleepily over rocks as an orange-pink glow crept on to the horizon. Above them loomed the rocky peak of Baldy, still hours away but closer than ever before. 

Crew 721-CC’s journey to Philmont has been months in the making. They prepared by climbing pointed peaks 6,000 miles away near their hometown in Japan. After a 14-hour flight, the Scouts finally caught their first glimpse of the Backcountry. 

“There is no place like Philmont in Japan,” Crew Leader Totokinosuke Suzuki said. 

Suzuki and the other crew members all started scouting when they were 10 or 11 years old. They’re part of the Aichi Scout Council in Japan, which is celebrating its 70 year anniversary in 2019. The crew had special patches made to commemorate their trip to Philmont. 

Each patch displays both the trademark purple flowers of their council in Japan and the outline of the Tooth of Time. In the background, the American flag and the Japanese flag meet under the Scouting emblem.

Photographed by Alex Cenci. 

Photographed by Alex Cenci. 

One of the crew advisors, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, brought the patches with him to give to rangers and other Philmont staff. 

Kobayashi has been to Philmont two times and was eager to climb Badly with his crew. He woke the Scouts at 4 a.m. to pack up their gear before hitting the trail.

By mid-morning the crew was crossing the ridge up to Baldy, taking in the stunning views and wildflowers. When they reached the summit each Scout grabbed a corner of the Japanese flag and held it up proudly. 

The crew plans on putting their Philmont experience to good use when they return to Japan. 

“Scouting teaches important skills like reading a map,” Suzuki said. “We want to teach younger Scouts the things we learned at Philmont.”

Picture of Emily Adams

Emily Adams

Emily is a senior majoring in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri. She enjoys rock climbing, hiking and backpacking and is excited to tell Philmont's story.