Astronauts Train at Philmont Before Landing on the Moon

Apollo astronauts pose for a group photo at Philmont Scout Ranch during a geology field trip in June of 1964. Pictured from left to right: From left to right, they are: Pete Conrad, Buzz Aldrin, Dick Gordon, Ted Freeman, Charlie Bassett, Walt Cunningham, Neil Armstrong, Donn Eisele, Rusty Schweikhart (behind Eisele), Jim Lovell, Mike Collins (partly hidden behind Lovell), Elliot See, Gene Cernan (behind See), Ed White, Roger Chaffee, Gordon Cooper, C.C. Williams (behind Cooper), Bill Anders, Dave Scott, Al Bean.

On this day in 1969, history was made when Apollo 11 blasted off for the moon. But about five years earlier those astronauts were preparing for the historic day at Philmont Scout Ranch.

Beginning in March 1964, NASA sent these astronauts on geology field trips to introduce them to geologic concepts they might find on the Moon.

The image above shows the group standing in what is now the medical re-check building at the Philmont. Every backcountry participant enters through the same doors and can stand in the same spot as Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and so many other incredible people went through before them. 

A banner hangs in the building that says “Half of the Astronauts who walked on the moon, walked through these doors. What will your legacy be?”

Amid the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, NASA and Scouting will cross paths once again as astronaut and assistant Scoutmaster Drew Morgan prepares to launch to the International Space Station. Morgan is set to chat live from space with Scouts at the World Scout Jamboree on July 24th from 12:30 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. Central Time. Visit to watch it live.

Every backcountry participant goes through medical recheck before hitting the trail for their trek. Astronauts training for the Apollo missions trained at Philmont in 1964 and took a group photo in this building, which now hangs on the fireplace.
USGS geophysicist Marty Kane, astronauts Alan Bean, Neil Armstrong, and Bill Anders (in suspenders), NASA geologist Uel Clanton (in hat, hidden behind Chaffee), astronaut Roger Chaffee, and USGS geophysicist Joel Watkins (cut off at right edge).
This banner hangs in the medical recheck building, encouraging crews to follow in the footsteps of fellow Scouts and Astronauts who have entered this building before them and have left a significant impact on the world.

Information for this post is courtesy of archives, the National Scouting Museum, Mark Stinnett, and Philmont archives.

8 responses to “Astronauts Train at Philmont Before Landing on the Moon”

  1. TC 619. Now 54 yrs old and ScoutMaster for troop 312 Lincoln Land Council – Springfield Ill
    ” The things I learned on this day July 16th , 2019″

  2. Awesome to learn this. Yes it is a tough place to explore and a good place for endurance training.

  3. What’s so ironic is that a scout from our own troop was telling us all about his trip to Philmont just last night 😀

  4. Always a good remembrance – Philmont August 1963. We rode in a bus and stayed at Air Force bases along the route from Michigan. I remember vividly seeing an H43 Husky helicopter at one of the bases (McConnell ?). I had built one as a model. Six years later I was working on and flying in H43’s at Laredo, Texas!

  5. I had the good fortune to be the Warehouse Manager at Philmont the summer of 1964. Just before they left, we opened up the main trading post for them to do some shopping. I can’t believe that I interacted with half the men who would one day go to the moon. We gave each of them the iconic Philmont jacket, which I packed, noting their names, but not recognizing anyone but Gordon Cooper. We were given copies of this photograph as a memento of the occasion.

  6. 1976 and 1983 were my treks at Philmont. I still have vivid memories of each trip. I can only say to all scouts, if you have a chance to go through a high-adventure program, do it, the experience will be with you for the rest of your life.

  7. I was attending the Conservation Training Camp the day day that they walked on the Moon. We all met with the JLT group and watched on a TV in the hall. A first time event including a Buffalo steak. What an incredible experience, what incredible lifetime memories. Scouting and Philmont… everyone should enjoy these experiences…. they truly stay with you for a lifetime.