Special Needs Programs

Philmont Scout Ranch offers programs for Scouts with disabilities or special needs. These programs are designed for Scouts, along with their parents and caregivers, to provide personalized adventures with supportive leaders.

Philmont is proud to partner with the Boy Scouts of America Special Needs Committee. Together, we ensure that Philmont programs, staff, and facilities are prepared and meet the needs of our families.   

Philmont uses the Zia name for the indigenous Zia people, whose symbol is on the New Mexico state flag, reflecting Philmont’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibile experiences for all Scouts.

Program Descriptions

The Adaptive Special Needs Conference is designed for volunteers and professional Scouters to learn how to make every aspect of scouting accessible to individuals with disabilities. It covers important topics such as dietary and medication safety, program and facilities management, and the latest adaptive programs like horsemanship, COPE, and hiking.

June 23-29, Conference Attendees, $395 plus housing.

Click Here to Register

The Zia Experience at Philmont Scout Ranch is a specialized program under the BSA Family Adventure Camp designed to provide an adaptive high-adventure experience for Scouts with disabilities or special needs, along with their families. It is a highly supported and personalized program that caters to a wide range of functioning levels, including those with physical, intellectual, emotional, and/or hidden disabilities.

Participants in the Zia Experience engage in various activities offered at Philmont. The program has two program sessions daily, in the morning and afternoon. Program areas use adaptive equipment to ensure that all Scouts, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy activities such as hiking, horseback riding, shooting sports and C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) course. Other activities include the craft center, museum tours, conservation projects, fishing, and a host of fun and engaging evening events. 

The Zia Family Experience is part of Philmont’s broader efforts to make scouting accessible to all, providing Scouts with disabilities and their families the opportunity to experience high adventure and create lasting memories.

The Zia Experience is only open to youth with special needs and their family members. Please start the registration by adding the Zia Participant, then add the parent/caregiver and any additional family member who wish to attend this program.

June 23-29, $425 Zia Participant, $425 Zia Caregiver plus housing. Additional Adults 18+ $480, Youth 11-17 $450, Child 6-10 $380, and Infants 0-5 $210.

Click Here to Register

This is a new program for 2024. Philmont is hosting an inaugural “Supported” 7-day backcountry trek designed for Scouts with special needs. This trek requires a parent or caregiver to attend. This customized experience is designed to meet the Scouts abilities and is supported by trained staff and volunteers. The trek is limited to a 12 person crew; 6 Scouts and 6 parents/caregivers. 

Interested families must complete a pre-screening form. Each family will then participate in an interview to ensure that the family understands trek requirements and potential constraints. After approval, the family will be able to register online.

The 2024 Trek is Full.


Resources for Trek Participants

2024 Sample Itinerary

2024 Trek Preparedness Guide

Trek Preparedness Seminars (We highly recommend that participants watch these videos. There is new one added each month. If you sign into the guest book link in the video description you will be able to earn a patch when you arrive if you watch all of the videos.)

Video 1 (Overview): https://youtu.be/HgWjDP0b7oY?si=UOW4YeTCW1ZaJK4D

Video 2 ( Gear):  https://youtu.be/vZ3QG4Q0sxw?si=iBQDoVZgSUifQ6kU

Video 3 (Cavalcade): https://youtu.be/j7TNSl-phoY?si=deTwfYEKjPq7qHmi

Video 4 (Itineraries): https://youtu.be/OB3axigQ40k?si=2LBMCbGUmN19xrkZ

Video 5 (Health and Safety): https://youtu.be/lyLGvKfBgEA?si=svhjpR2TGrCljTL6

Video 6 (Trail Food and Cooking): https://youtu.be/w0fXikodJuk?si=UdjR2PeK3Gph4t0s



Philmont Scout Ranch and the Philmont Training Center are committed to providing a safe environment for all guests. Listed below are ways Philmont is delivering accomodations to meet the needs of families with special needs or disabilities. 

Philmont Scout Ranch offers both wheelchair-accessible tents and a limited amount of ADA roofed housing.

The Terrace Canvas Tent is a wheelchair-accessible option that can accommodate two people and is placed on a concrete platform. It contains amenities such as chairs, a locker, an electric outlet, and a light. The Showerhouse with lockable, ADA compliant private rooms are accessible via the concrete sidewalks. 

Additionally, the ranch provides ADA roofed housing, which is similar to a hotel room, and contains one open room with twin beds, a futon, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a private bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. This accommodation is available in different styles, with varying sleeping capacities.

These options cater to individuals with accessibility needs, ensuring that everyone can enjoy their stay at the Philmont Scout Ranch.

The Training Center has some adaptive equipment that families may request to use.

  • Action Track Chair: Built for rugged terrain and backcountry trails. Provides freedom and independance to experince Philmont.
  • Portable Commode Chair with adjustable heights.
  • Shower Chair. Allows individuals to access a broader range of shower faciulities on property.
  • Wireless Hearing Device connecting an individual with sound systems for large group gatherings.

Please contact the training center to reserve equipment before arriving at the ranch.

Philmont employs a full-time chief medical officer who oversees a world-class medical faciity (Infirmary) licensed by the State of New Mexico. During the summer, the Infimary is supported by professional doctors, nurses and medical students that ensure the well-being of all guests and handle critical medical issues as needed. Philmont is a key partner in providing emergency care for Cimarron and other local communities.

During the Zia Experience and Zia Trek, additional health care volunteers provide support to ensure the health and safety of our Zia guests. 

Philmont provides adapative equipment to make our adventures more inclusive. Program areas such as climbing, horseback riding, and shooting sports use equipment that gives every youth an oportunity to participate. 

The program bowl has a section for wheeelchairs. 

All buildings are easily accessible using built in ramps and wide doors. The only building that may be difficult for individuals with limited mobility is the Villa Philmonte.

Philmont is able to accomodate most dietary needs. Please let the training center know before you arrive if an individual has food alleries, dietary restrictions, or needs special accomodations for meals.

The dining hall is accessible and tables can be lifted to accomodate  wheelchairs.

The training center has a variety of housing units that can accomodate individuals and families with special needs. Families staying in terrace or deluxe tents can use our beautiful showerhouses.

Each shower building has individual, locking rooms with both bathroom and shower. Each showerhouse has four handicap accessible rooms with accessible showers. Families can also request portable potty and shower chairs if needed.

Philmont does not provide accessible transportation. Access to a variety of our program areas is via a school bus. However, we do work with families to provide appropriate transport where  needed. Depending on the situation, families may need to provide their own transportaion to program areas.

For More Information

Please contact the Philmont Training Center at Philmont.trainingcenter@scouting.org or call 575-376-2281.