In order for each participant, whether camper or advisor, to receive the Arrowhead Award and patch, they must complete three hours of conservation work under the supervision of a Philmont conservationist. There are an average of six sites across the Ranch each summer. The projects at these sites can include trail-building, erosion control, timber stand improvement and even habitat restoration.
But what exactly gets accomplished in those three hours?
When a crew first arrives at the conservation site for their scheduled three-hour slot, they meet up with the Conservationist staff of that site. The staff begins with a project introduction, which includes staff, introductions, overall area information, project goals, and a brief over view of the work to be preformed. Then, the staff reviews safety equipment, communication and general and site-specific tool safety. These talks are generally referred to as “Tool Talks.” The “Tool Talk” then leads into a “Trail Talk,” or “Work Talk,” which covers the specific work to be done, the reason behind it and proper safety.
The purpose behind the three-hour session that the crews must participate in is to not just work and give back to the ranch, but also learn about how trails are built, how fragile ecosystems are and how humans can enjoy nature without causing damage. The “Tool Talks” or “Trail Talks” are integral parts of the sessions because they educate and inform as well as ensure the participants work safely.
The work done at the sites is physically demanding, but can also be fun! Participants will have the opportunity to use tools such as bow saw, pick mattock, sledgehammer, and McLeods. Participants will cut trees, smash rocks, build rock walls or rough cut trails.