Be Philmont Prepared.
Prepare your crew (and yourself) for the adventure of a lifetime! The following are a plethora of resources you can use to learn about what to expect while on the trail, how to bring the right equipment, and foster strong teamwork before you even leave home.
These broadcasts are designed to offer you and your crew supplemental information to best prepare you for your upcoming trek. They are approximately one hour in length and hosted as a Zoom webinar. All live sessions will also include a Q & A portion open to all attendees.
2023-24 Schedule: Save the Date! All seminars begin at 6:30 p.m. MT. Add these to your calendar today:
Oct. 19: Season overview & introduction to Philmont Preparedness! Nov. 16: Gear – What you need for a trek at Philmont Dec. 7: Cavalcade – Specific needs for Cavalcade treks Dec. 14: Itineraries & Crew Leadership– How to select the best itinerary for your crew and understand key youth leadership roles Jan. 18: Health & Safety – Medical forms, first aid kids, medical conditions, and support from the Philmont Infirmary Feb. 15: Food and Cooking – How cooking, trail food, and replacement meals work at Philmont
- Feb. 29 : Individual Treks – Specific information to help participants succeed!
- Mar. 14 : Base Camp Procedures – Expectations for you crew’s first and last day and how to ensure it goes smoothly
- Apr. 18 – Review and Final Updates
We look forward to seeing you soon! A link will be emailed to you as well as posted on our social media channels the day of the event. If you can’t make it, please know that all content will be uploaded at the link below within a week of each event.
View last summer’s Preparedness Seminars here
Please note: Some requirements and details may have changed from the previous season. Watch the current year’s livestreams for the latest details.
Countdown to the start of the 2024 summer season!
Basic Backcountry Skills
All participants preparing for a trek should already have a strong foundational understanding of First Class Scout skills. The following are meant to supplement your previous Scouting experience with what you will learn from a Philmont Ranger.
Before you begin hiking, always remember to check your map. To do this effectively, you must first orient your map. Orienting the map involves using a compass to align the map with true north. To find true north, you must account for declination (the angle difference between true and magnetic north). Declination changes depending on where you are on the globe; here is a map showing the degrees of declination for the lower 48 states:
The declination at Philmont is right around 10o east which means we set our compass at 350.
Once the dial is set to 350, align a straight edge of the compass with a grid line on the map so that the compass, not the compass needle, is aligned with north on the map’s compass rose (Figure 1). Then rotate the map (with the compass lying on it) so that the compass needle is pointing toward the N on your compass dial (Figure 2; known as “red in the shed”). Now the map is oriented, and you can accurately decide which trail to take to your destination.
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates are very helpful when using a map, compass, or GPS. UTMs are based off a metric grid system and allow you to accurately pinpoint your current location or the location of a distant goal. In North America, we use eastings and northings. Think of them like an X, Y axis. The eastings are your X and the northings are your Y. Always read out the eastings first and the northings second. Make sure to always orient your map before working with UTMs. At Philmont, UTM trail signs are used so that you can accurately pinpoint your location on the map then decide which trail to take. Becoming familiar with UTM coordinates and how to read them will greatly assist your crew in route finding on your trek. Use the exercise below to practice using UTMs:
Triangulation is another skill that can be useful in the backcountry. To triangulate, orient the map then find recognizable landmarks on the map that you can see from your current location. Shoot a bearing to your first recognizable landmark and rotate the dial so that the “shed” is over the red end of the needle. Place the corner of the compass on the landmark on the map and pivot the compass around that landmark until the red needle is in the “shed”. Use a pencil to draw a straight line along the edge of the compass and continue to the edge of the map. If you are on a trail, then the line should intersect the trail that you are on and your position is at that intersection. Find two other landmarks and repeat the process: you are somewhere in the triangle formed by these three lines. To be more accurate, take more bearings and trace them onto the map.
The navigator should set a hiking pace that is comfortable for each crew member. Good communication between the back and front of the crew will help keep the crew hiking at a comfortable pace without getting separated. Crew members should be spaced out approximately every 8-10 ft. but a crew should never split up. Before a crew begins hiking, the navigator should ask the question: “Is anybody not ready?” The reason we phrase the question this way rather than, “Is everybody ready?” is because with the latter question all you would hear would be 11 voices saying “yes” and the one “no” would be drowned out.
Pace – Your crew should choose a pace that keeps the crew together and allows the crew to hike for extended amounts of time without needing to stop and take a break. If one crew member is significantly slower than the rest of the crew, have them hike near the front of the crew so that they can easily communicate with the navigator/pace setter.
Spacing – It is common for crew members to hike too close together at Philmont and as a result, crew members are not able to see the views and wildlife all around them. It is recommended that crew members are spaced out about 8-10 ft. to allow them to look around and enjoy the views as well as stop in time if the person in front of them were to suddenly stop on the trail. The reason why you do not
want your crew to be too spaced out is that part of the crew may go the wrong way at a trail junction, causing a search and rescue operation because the group was not hiking together as a solidary crew.
Breaks – Crews should take breaks when needed and anyone in the crew should feel comfortable calling for a break. There are two kinds of breaks: a five-minute or less break and a 20-minute or more break. The reason for the two different breaks is the lactic acid buildup that will occur in your muscles after resting for more than five minutes. Lactic acid will leave your muscles feeling sluggish and you will exert much more energy if you hike during lactic acid buildup. After 20 minutes, the lactic acid will dissipate, and your muscles will be able to move unrestricted. Additionally, make sure to never step on the critical edge of the trail, especially when taking breaks. The critical edge is the outside (or downhill) edge of the trail and stepping on it will weaken it and lead to the erosion of the trail.
Passing a Crew – If you encounter another crew heading in the same direction you are hiking, take a five-minute break. If you approach them again, take another five-minute break. If you approach them a third time, ask if you may pass. If you do pass the other crew, do not stop for at least 45 minutes to prevent the two crews from leapfrogging one another.
Another Crew Passes You – As stated earlier, a crew hiking behind you will probably ask if they can pass you. If they do, let them hike in front since you may not have seen them the other two times they approached you. Once passed, taking a five-minute break is a good idea just to give the two crews spacing.
Right of Way – When two crews meet on a hill and are hiking opposite directions, the crew hiking uphill has the right of way and the crew hiking downhill should step off the trail allowing the other crew to pass. The reason for this is that it is harder to get your momentum going uphill than downhill.
Pack Animals – Cavalcade crews or crews with a burro always have the right of way. Listen to the directions of the Horseman or Wrangler for which side of the trail to move to.
Stream Crossings – Cross streams and bridges one person at a time. Unbuckle your hip belt and sternum strap so that if you fall in, you can quickly escape your pack and avoid drowning. The navigator should continue about 30 ft. up the trail and wait for the rest of the crew. When the last person crosses the stream, they should call out “All across” then the navigator will ask the question: “Is anybody not ready?” before hiking on.
Trekking Poles – If you decide to use trekking poles on your trek, make sure to use rubber tips to save our trails from erosion. Trekking poles can reduce the impact on your knees by up to 25% while backpacking but we have found that trails erode much quicker when the sharp tip of the poles are exposed.
There are seven principles of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. Here are the principles and
some tips to ensure they are met while on your trek:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare – Knowing the rules and regulations outlined in this guide is a good start to being prepared for your trek. Each night as you are waiting for the water to boil for dinner, it is a good idea to start looking over the map for the next day’s hike. Look for which trails to take, elevation gain, water availability, which camps you will pass through, etc. to get a clear picture of what the day should look like. Proper preparation will allow your crew to get to camp quickly while optimizing your time and program opportunities along the way.
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – Philmont practices concentrated impact camping and has roughly 360 miles of maintained trails, 36 staffed camps, and 86 trail (unstaffed) camps. Hiking and camping on our established trails and campsites (except where they do not exist in the Valle Vidal of the Carson National Forest) allows us to preserve the 99% of land we do not impact. Please follow switchbacks and avoid creating social trails through meadows or riparian areas.
3. Dispose of Waste Properly – Every staff camp other than Black Mountain and Crooked Creek accepts consolidated trash. They also collect plastic meal bags, shiny food wrappers (Terracycle), and paperboard. For additional resources on navigation, refer to the BSA Fieldbook and Orienteering Merit Badge Book. Liquid food waste should be poured down the sump and solid food waste should be packed out as trash. Human waste is concentrated into pit-style latrines.
4. Leave What You Find – From elk sheds to wildflowers to artifacts; a typical crew will find a variety of items left by the people and animals that have made their home at Philmont over the years. You must only photograph these items and leave them for other crews to enjoy. Anything made by humans that is over 50 years old is considered an artifact and should be left undisturbed. Report anything noteworthy to the next staffed camp you
hike through and give them the UTM coordinates so that we may look at it for further investigation.
5. Minimize Campfire Impact – As mentioned in Part 1 of this guide, campfires should be kept small. Sticks used as
fuel should be no wider than your wrist and no longer than your forearm. Always keep a full pot of water near the fire ring when a campfire is burning. Stir up the coals with a stick and pour water over the coals to ensure the fire is “out cold” before going to bed. When campfires are allowed at Philmont, it is important to dispose of the ashes properly. In the morning as you are ready to leave your campsite, pack the ashes into an empty meal
bag and hike them 30 minutes outside of camp then spread the ashes 100 ft. off the trail. This keeps our campsites clean and ready to use for the next crew.
6. Respect Wildlife – Philmont’s fauna is varied and includes black bears, mule deer, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, hawks, elk, falcons, cutthroat trout, chipmunks, hummingbirds, raccoons, bighorn sheep, and porcupines, just to name a few. We need to respect these animals by never approaching, throwing rocks, or feeding them. Simply give them distance and let them go about their way. Always hang your smellables up in the bear bags and never leave smellables unattended. Remember, it is common for the quietest crews to see the most wildlife.
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors – With 4,500 people in Philmont’s backcountry at any one time, it is very important to remain respectful towards those around you. This includes not yelling or singing loud songs along the trail or in camp, not writing graffiti, not talking on the cell phone on the summit of mountains, etc. Additionally, highlighter-colored shirts are frowned upon in the backcountry setting, as the bright colors are an eyesore and distraction from the beautiful scenery you will encounter.
Health, Safety, and Risk Management
A Scout is clean. It is extremely important that backpackers stay clean and healthy in the backcountry. The dirtier you become, the more likely it is that you will become sick, get an infection, or sustain an injury. The best ways to stay clean on the trail include: changing clothes regularly (especially socks and underwear), brushing your teeth, taking showers whenever possible, washing clothes whenever possible, washing your hands after using a latrine, washing and sanitizing your hands before each meal, and properly washing, rinsing, and sanitizing your dishes. Although a few backcountry camps have showers, you can have a “bandana bath” at any campsite. Simply get a wet bandana and a drop of Campsuds and wash yourself off at the sump. Remain clothed at all times to keep in compliance with youth protection and make sure to dispose of all waste water at the sump. To help your crew stay clean and healthy, Philmont now approves the use of clotheslines during daylight hours so that you can efficiently dry your clothes after you wash them. Remember to remove the clotheslines at dusk to prevent someone from walking into them at night. It is important to regularly wash clothes that touch the skin, i.e. socks, underwear, and shirts. Wearing the same dirty clothes day after day can lead to serious problems. For example, if you wear the same socks four days straight, your chances of getting a severe blister are much greater, making your trek much more difficult.
Prevent: Drink plenty of water and sports drinks during strenuous hiking and hot/dry weather – a hiker will need to drink several liters a day. Alternating between water and sports drinks will help to replace important electrolytes as well as fluids lost during strenuous hiking.
Recognize: Headache, fatigue, and nausea are early signs of dehydration. More severe signs of dehydration may include dizziness, vision changes, difficulty walking and altered level of consciousness. If a patient is unable to keep down adequate amounts of fluid, then advanced medical care may be
Treatment: It is important to begin treating dehydration as soon as you recognize the symptoms. Prevent the dehydration from becoming worse by resting and staying out of the heat. Rehydrate with water or half-strength sports drink; full strength sports drinks may cause upset stomach in an already nauseated patient, but a half strength sports drinks will still provide needed electrolytes for the dehydrated patient.
Prevent: Blisters are caused by the heat resulting from friction and rubbing between the shoe and the foot. Wearing well broken in boots and good fitting, clean hiking socks will prevent friction and blisters. Hikers should recognize a “hot spot” and take steps to treat them before they become blisters.
Recognize: Blisters are areas of irritated and painful skin, where fluid and blood begins to collect and can be very painful.
Treatment: If a blister forms, do not pop or drain it. Use moleskin to create a cushion to protect the blister by cutting a hole in the middle of the pad slightly larger than the blister. Place the moleskin over the affected area so that the blister is surrounded by the bandage but not covered. This will reduce the friction between the blister and the sock, preventing the blister from getting any larger. If the blister pops on its own, make sure that the area stays clean and covered and watch for signs of infection
Prevent: Philmont’s dry desert climate can reach temperatures above 100o F, and drop close to freezing temperatures at night in higher elevations. It is important that hikers at Philmont be prepared with appropriate equipment and anticipate the potential for extreme temperatures. When high heat is anticipated avoid hiking in the heat of the day, and take frequent breaks, avoid wearing dark or tight
fitting clothing, and stay hydrated.
Recognize: Signs of heat illness can vary widely from profuse sweating, red skin, elevated temperature, and irritability, to more severe symptoms such as altered level of consciousness, and seizures.
Treatment: Sit down in shade and hydrate with half-strength sports drink to replenish fluids and electrolytes. If heat exhaustion is treated appropriately, heat stroke will not occur. Heat stroke, a life threatening condition, is when a person’s body temperature gets too high and the body can no longer cool itself. Heat stroke patients may exhibit an altered level of consciousness, have seizures, and die if not treated quickly.
Prevent: Philmont Scout Ranch is located at elevations between 6,500 and 12,500 feet. This is a higher elevation than most of the U.S. and it is not uncommon for participants to feel the effects of altitude in their first few days at Philmont. Altitude symptoms can be prevented by ascending to altitude slowly. Participants traveling from low elevations may benefit by spending an extra day at altitude (Colorado Springs for example) on the way to Philmont. It is important to stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, and get plenty of rest to allow your body to adjust to the altitude.
Recognize: Symptoms of acute mountain sickness can vary but generally consist of a headache, nausea, and feeling lethargic. Some people report insomnia and loss of appetite. In more severe cases of altitude illness, patients may experience shortness of breath at rest or change in level of consciousness.
Treatment: The best treatment for altitude illness is descending to a lower altitude and allowing time to adjust. Symptoms may also be treated by staying hydrated and taking an over the counter pain medication.
Prevent: Philmont trails are often rough and rocky. It can be easy to slip, fall, and injure an ankle or a knee when carrying a large backpack. When hiking, it is important to watch where you are going, avoid horseplay, and wear mid- to high-top boots that provide ankle support.
Recognize: It is not uncommon for a hiker’s ankles and knees to be sore after a long day of hiking, but it is important to recognize when it is more than soreness and may be an injury. Signs of a possible injury include deformity, swelling, discoloration, and an inability to take more than four steps without severe pain.
Treatment: For the treatment of most ankle and knee injuries remember the acronym R.I.C.E. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Following the R.I.C.E. method helps to reduce pain and swelling of the injury. If the ankle is injured, keep the boot on to help prevent swelling and splint the ankle to immobilize it. For a knee injury, splint the leg from the thigh to the calf, in the most comfortable position for the patient.
Philmont experiences different weather patterns depending on the time of year. In June, we normally receive very little precipitation and daytime highs can reach as high as 100o F with single-digit humidity. The monsoon season hits northeast New Mexico between late-June and early-July and will stay until early-August most years. The monsoon season is characterized by large thunderstorms that build throughout the morning and bring rain, hail, and lightning in the afternoon. Usually the rain, hail, and lightning last anywhere between 45 minutes and two hours then the skies clear up and temperatures rise again. Regardless of the time of year of your trek, it is recommended that crews always bring adequate rain jackets and rain pants, a good fleece jacket, and a stocking cap. Staying well hydrated is another key to having a successful trek, even in colder, rainy weather when hikers often forget to keep drinking water.
From Philmont’s lowest elevations (6,500 ft.) to approximately 7,500 ft.
This area is easily recognizable by the abundance of native grasses, scrub oak, sage brush, yucca plants, cottonwood trees, and the occasional ponderosa pine.
During the summer, daytime highs can get into the upper 90’s/low 100’s and overnight lows can drop to the mid 50’s.
Water and shade can be scarce in this region. It is highly recommended that crews wake up early and hike to their destination before the heat of the day sets in.
From 7,500 ft. to 8,500 ft.
Characterized by large ponderosa pine forests with scrub oak underbrush.
Daytime highs in the mid 90’s and overnight lows into the high 40’s are possible in the summer months.
Water becomes easier to find than in the high desert plains, but you should still fill up all of your water capacity whenever you have the chance.
From approximately 8,500 ft. to 10,000 ft.Recognized by the abundance of wildflowers, streams, Douglas fir, blue spruce, and aspen trees.
During the summer, daytime highs will approach the upper 80’s and overnight lows will drop to the mid 40’s.
Since most of this region is located on the east side of the Cimarron Range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and since storms almost always move in from the west, it can be difficult to see weather patterns coming in over the mountains until the system is right above you.
Longer periods of rain (up to a week) can engulf this region especially during the monsoon season from late-June/early-July to early-August. Good rain gear and a fleece jacket will help with staying dry and warm during these weather patterns.
Recognized by a decrease in tall vegetation.
Other than grasses, the only substantial plants that grow in this zone are Bristlecone Pines and Limber
Daytime highs in the low 80’s to overnight lows in the upper 30’s can be common in the sub-alpine zone.
Storm systems form quickly and water can be scarce because of the elevation. If camping at a trail camp in this zone, most crews cook their dinner meal for lunch at a lower elevation and eat their dry lunch for dinner to save on water.
From 11,500 ft. up.
This region is recognized by a significant decrease in the amount of vegetation. Grasses are typically the only plants that grow in this zone although the occasional bristlecone pine can be spotted above treeline.
Daytime highs in the mid 60’s to overnight lows in the low 30’s are typical for this region in the summer.
Weather systems can form extremely quickly and often times without warning in this zone. It is highly recommended that crews wake up early and hike through alpine areas by noon to avoid getting caught in a lightning storm without the protection of trees.
As mentioned earlier, the lightning danger is very high at Philmont. A crew should count the amount of time that passes between when lightning is seen and thunder is heard. If the time is 30 seconds or less, you should already be in safer terrain. If you determine that the safest thing for your crew to do is to go into the lightning position, first space out 30 feet between crew members so that if someone on one side of the crew is struck, someone from the other side can come over to perform CPR. Once you have spaced out, keep your feet together to minimize the risk of being affected by ground current. Then crouch down (while keeping your feet together) to minimize the chances of a direct strike. Lastly, if you feel that a strike is imminent, cover your ears and close your eyes. Remember to keep an eye on the rest of your crew, stay in wooded areas, and never stand near the tallest object.
Crew & Personal Gear
Gear is an essential preparation item to ensure you have enjoyable experience on the trail. A complete list of items that Scouts and their crew will need to prepare for prior to a Philmont summer trek can be found here. You may find specific details about items on the Philmont packing list in the Guidebook To Adventure. If you have any questions regarding any items on the equipment list, please contact Philmont’s Tooth of Time Traders at 575-376-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Internal frame packs are highly functional and most commonly used. The pack needs to have a padded hip belt. Anything between a 65-85 liter carrying capacity will fit personal gear, crew gear, food, and water. To properly pack an internal frame backpack, place the heavy gear along the spine and close to the hiker’s back to keep the center of gravity forward and low. Lighter gear should be packed at the top of the backpack and on the outer edges of the main compartment. Sleeping bags usually fit at the bottom of the pack. Avoid having loose/dangling gear, as it is more likely to get caught in vegetation and requires you to exert more energy to offset its swaying motion. Backpacks are available for rent from Outfitting Services in Base Camp for $30 (this includes a pack cover as well). This is a great option for youth who you know will outgrow a pack in a year or two.
Mid to high top boots are highly recommended for ankle support on rocky, uneven trails. Boots should be well broken in before a Philmont trek. Waterproof boots are recommended: keeping your feet dry is one of the biggest keys to a successful trek.
Philmont requires closed-walled tents to prevent rodents, snakes, scorpions, and spiders from entering your sleeping facility. Two-person tents are required, as it is often difficult to find a spot to set up a larger tent in forested campsites. Mountain Safety Research (MSR) partnered with Philmont in 2012 and developed the Thunder Ridge tent specifically for use at Philmont. The MSR Thunder Ridge is a two-person, three-season tent and is available for crews to use free of charge while on their Philmont trek. Each MSR Thunder Ridge tent is washed using Nikwax Tech Wash® upon returning to Base Camp to ensure all Philmont-issued tents are clean and waterproof. Ground cloths (not provided) are required for use with the MSR Thunder Ridge tents and the dimensions of the tent are 88” x 54”. Lightweight materials such as Tyvek work great as ground cloths and are affordable if purchased in bulk for the crew.
Philmont requires all crews to have at least two pots. Both pots must be at least eight-quarts in size. The purpose of having the second pot is for the dishwashing process which requires one pot for washing and one pot for rinsing. All utensils will be sanitized in the early stages of the following meal’s preparation process. The full dishwashing process (wash, rinse, and sanitize) is very important in the backcountry in order to prevent sickness on the trail. Eight-quart pots are available for crews to use from Outfitting Services in Base Camp free of charge.
White gas stoves are most commonly used at Philmont. Models such as the MSR WhisperLite, MSR DragonFly, and the Optimus Nova are great stoves for a Philmont backpacking trek. White gas stoves are preferred by most crews because they are more efficient at higher elevations and colder temperatures and the fuel bottles are refillable, making them more environmentally friendly than canister stoves. Canister stoves such as the MSR WhisperLite Universal and Optimus Vega are acceptable stoves for a Philmont trek due to their design of separating the canister from the stove, making it much more stable and safer than a typical canister stove that screws on directly above the fuel canister. Although they should not be used for cooking meals, canister stoves such as the MSR PocketRocket, Optimus Crux, and Jetboils work great for small items like boiling water for coffee. (It is important to never use a windscreen with one of these stoves due to the fact that the heat source and fuel are both in the same enclosed space, making it highly combustible.) Backcountry commissary camps can refill white gas and have canister fuel available for purchase. It is recommended that a crew has approximately 6 oz. of white gas carrying capacity per person. Open flame stoves without a shutoff valve like BioLite stoves or alcohol stoves are not allowed at Philmont for safety reasons and wildfire risk.
Philmont requires crews to use two bear ropes measuring 100’ in length and ¼”
in diameter to hang all smellables (A smellable is anything that might attract a bear. For a more detailed list, see
the “Setting Up Camp” section). Bear ropes and bear bags are available for crews to check out from Outfitting
Services in Base Camp free of charge. Crews are allowed to bring their own bear ropes and bags but the ropes
must be the same dimensions as Philmont’s (100’ x ¼”) and the bags must be able to be tied or clipped to the
rope. Pulley systems are not allowed for use at Philmont due to their tendency to get jammed, their weight, and
their lack of having two tie-off points. Two tie-off points are required so that if a bear cuts one line, the bags will
still be suspended by the second line.
Crew Dynamics and Leadership
Every crew undergoes a transformation during their trek as they move through the four stages of group dynamics: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Some crews move through these stages quicker than others: just because a crew is at a certain stage does not mean the crew cannot revert back to a previous stage. The key to anything relating to group dynamics is communication. Doing Roses, Thorns, and Buds every night before bed is a great way to hear everyone out and discover crew issues to address before they blow up out of control.
Forming – The first stage, recognizable by excitement and the hidden fears of crew members not knowing what
comes next. Crew members may still be getting to know one another and people will be hesitant to come out of
their shell. The members within a crew should ask their p basic “get to know you” questions in order to find
similarities and common ground. This is especially true for crews consisting of youth from multiple home units.
Storming – The second stage, occurring when people begin to come out of their shell and do not sugar coat any
communication as they did in the forming stage. Different personalities begin to clash and conflict usually arises.
For some crews this stage takes about a half hour to get through, for others it can take days. The best way to
learn from this stage and move on to the norming stage is through good and honest communication. The basic
“get to know you” questions from the forming stage can be vital to the transformation in this storming stage
because the crew can find similarities amongst themselves and can build off of that rather than be torn apart by
Norming – Once the crew gets all the kinks out of the system, they move on to the norming stage and begin to
set the groundwork for the rest of the trek. Personal goals that may have been chosen earlier in the trek need to
be revisited now that everyone has a clearer picture of what their trek is like. Once everyone’s personal goals
are set, the crew needs to determine crew goals that meet the expectations of every crew member and how
they will work towards them. It is best to come to a consensus when determining crew goals since people
generally support ideas they helped create.
Performing – All the crew members are comfortable around each other and know their specific role within the
crew. Everyone knows the crew goals and how to achieve them. Trust is exhibited throughout the crew and
efficiency is at its peak. Constant communication and a servant leadership demeanor are demonstrated by all
members within the crew.
Crew leadership positions should be determined well in advance of your trip to Philmont. Each role plays a critical element in helping the crew to succeed. You may want to hold a meeting to determine who in the crew will be the best fit for each position. Those who are selected will receive an additional element of training the night before they hit the trail.
Responsible for organizing the crew, assigning duties, making decisions, and recognizing the capabilities of each crew member. He/she leads by example and practices servant leadership to allow the crew to have an enjoyable and successful trek. The Crew Leader should have leadership capabilities that are respected by everyone and should be selected prior to the first shakedown hike. Successful Crew Leaders exhibit the following traits: positive attitude, attentiveness to all crew members’ needs, and the ability to identify and resolve conflicts before they develop into larger issues.
Responsible for leading the crew in following the 12th point of the Scout Law. They help the crew earn the Duty to God Award and lead daily devotionals from the Eagles Soaring High Booklet as well as facilitating Roses, Thorns, and Buds each night. The Chaplain’s Aide should be selected by the crew prior to the first shakedown hike. On the shakedown hikes, it is a great time to start Roses, Thorns, and Buds with the crew. During Roses, Thorns, and Buds each crew member will say their rose (something they liked about the day, thorn (something they disliked about the day), and bud (what they are looking forward to tomorrow or in the near future). Each crew member should be allowed to talk uninterrupted to allow this exercise to facilitate crew bonding.
Responsible for helping the crew understand and follow the principles of the Philmont Wilderness Pledge and Leave No Trace. They help the crew earn the Wilderness Pledge Achievement Award with the help of the Ranger. They also help enforce Philmont’s bear procedures. The Philmont Wilderness Pledge
reads as follows:
Through good Scout camping, I pledge to preserve the beauty
and splendor of the Philmont wilderness. I commit myself to:
1. An absence of litter and graffiti
2. Respect for wildlife
3. Conservation and proper use of water
4. Respect for trails and trail signs
5. Proper use of campsites
The seven principles of Leave No Trace are:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
The Wilderness Pledge Guia should be selected by the crew prior to the first shakedown hike and should help the crew follow these two wilderness ethics both at home and at Philmont.
The Lead Advisor is the principal Advisor responsible for coordinating a successful Philmont experience for each member of the crew. All adults support the Lead Advisor in accomplishing the duties of the Advisor. Advisors’ main role is to coach, mentor, and support the Crew Leader, Chaplain’s Aide, and Wilderness Pledge Guia. By doing this, the youth leaders will gain leadership experience throughout the trek and will be able to help all members of the crew develop into a strong team. The second primary role of the Advisors is to ensure the safety and well-being of each crew member:
“First aid treatment; Administration of required medications; Proper water purification; Any time a stove is in use; Guidance and support of the crew through emergency situations.”
Advisors also help foster positive crew dynamics, help settle disputes between members of the crew, assist with administering proper discipline if required, and ensure that the crew operates following all youth protection guidelines.
Trail Food and Cooking
As mentioned above, crews are required to use two pots in the backcountry. The eight-quart pot is used for boiling water and re hydrating food while the second pot is for dishwashing. Turkey bags or other bags used as a barrier between the cooking pot and the food are not allowed at Philmont due to the amount of extra trash created, which in turn requires extra use of gasoline for backcountry trash pickups. The purpose of the patrol cooking method is to give Scouts the opportunity to lead the cooking and cleaning processes during a meal in the backcountry by practicing servant leadership. By utilizing the crew duty roster, a Scout will be the assistant cook/dishwasher one night then the lead cook/dishwasher the following night.
Katadyn Micropur® tablets are issued to purify untreated water at Philmont. These tablets are lightweight, pack down to almost nothing, and are provided for free. They kill protozoa, bacteria, and viruses whereas filters are only effective against protozoa and bacteria. You may bring water filters if you would like but it is not necessary due to the Micropur tablets you will receive in Base Camp.
It is crucial to successful individual and crew experiences that hikers are in strong physical condition for their Philmont trek. In order to get into physical shape that is appropriate for a Philmont trek, crew members need to start exercising at least eight months in advance. The most important aspects to focus on are aerobic/cardiovascular and lower body strength. Here are some activity suggestions for getting in shape:
• Go to your local high school football stadium and run/walk up the bleachers for an hour-long session twice a week. Turn it into a crew experience and have every crew member join, ensuring that everyone is in great shape. Once this activity becomes easy for you, bring your fully loaded backpack with you to get an idea of how your pack will feel, allowing you to tinker with your pack and figure out which settings work best.
• Go cycling twice a week. The distance is up to you: the leg workout combined with the cardiovascular aspect makes cycling a great preparation activity for backpacking.
• Keep track of your exercises by recording a logbook and post the activities you did over the past week on a crew-wide board at each troop meeting. This will let others know how dedicated you are to your trek and your crew and it will keep everyone accountable for getting into shape.
In addition to physical activity, eating right will go a long way in helping you get in shape for Philmont. A balanced diet is essential to healthy living and as Scouts we have all pledged to keep ourselves physically strong. It is crucial that all crew members – youth and advisors – be in excellent physical condition for their trek: the crew will be able to get to camp faster and have more time for program opportunities such as rock climbing, shooting, horseback riding, etc. while also having more energy in general. The hard work put into exercising now will pay off tenfold by the time of your trek.
First Day at Philmont
- The first day of your trek is very busy with many Base Camp stops to ensure you are all set and ready for the backcountry. The general order of the first day is as follows:
Arrive at the Welcome Center
- The earlier the better. Typically, crews that arrive before 10:00am get through the Base Camp
procedures in one day.
- Crew Leader and Lead Advisor check-in and receive tent assignments.
Meet your Ranger
- Your Ranger will be waiting for you at the Welcome Center and they will meet your crew right after you
are done getting checked in.
- Your Ranger will be with you the entire day, guiding you through the Base Camp process to ensure you
are ready to hit the trail the following day.
- He or she will go out into the backcountry with you for two nights and teach you everything you will
need to know about having a safe and enjoyable Philmont trek.
Drop off gear at your tents
- Your Ranger will instruct everyone to bring water, raingear, and prescription medications with them
through the rest of the stops in Base Camp.
- The Lead Advisor needs to bring the crew roster, medical forms, payment paperwork, and Wilderness
First Aid and CPR certifications with them.
- The Crew Leader needs to bring an unmarked overall map and their Crew Leader Fieldbook with them.
- Extra photos can be purchased in the Camping Registration office.
- Can be taken in field uniforms or crew t-shirts.
- Ranger and Lead Advisor go inside while the rest of the crew waits outside the building.
- Any outstanding payments are made, and certifications are checked.
- The crew roster is turned in.
- Receive gear such as tents, bear bags, bear rope, pots, dining fly, etc.
- Receive food for first few days of the trek.
- Purchase fuel needed for the trek.
- All crew members review their medical forms with Philmont Infirmary staff member.
- Bring all prescriptions in their original containers to be reviewed at medical recheck for expiration date and dosing, this includes emergency medications such as EpiPens® and inhalers.
- Any gear that was shipped ahead of time can be picked up.
- Your Ranger will run through a gear shakedown with your crew ensuring all necessary gear is taken on
trail and all non-essential gear is stored in Base Camp.
Logistics Trip Plan
- Crew Leader and Lead Advisor will be called into Logistics and will receive information about campsites,
trails, program opportunities, water availability, horse rides, etc.
- The Crew Leader needs to bring an unmarked overall map and their Crew Leader Fieldbook with them.
- Receive lockers if crew did not use personal vehicles for transportation.
- Take a tour of the Villa Philmonte, Kit Carson/Rayado, and the Historic Chase Ranch.
- Sign up at the Philmont Museum and Seton Memorial Library.
- Lunch is at 11:30am
- Dinner is at 4:45pm
- Breakfast the following morning is at 6:30am
Crew Leadership Meetings
- The Crew Leader, Chaplain’s Aide, Wilderness Pledge Guia, and Advisors all meet at the Hardesty Casa
Central at 5:45pm for their respective meetings.
- Begin at 7:00pm
- Meet at the Welcome Center at 8:15pm.
Depart Base Camp
- The first buses leave for the backcountry at 8:00am and the last buses leave Base Camp at 3:00pm.
Typically, a crew departs for the backcountry approximately 24 hours after they arrive at Philmont. The earlier you can arrive, the easier the first few days will be.