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Hi, I understand when going to Philmont that we need to assign a Trail Chief? Is that correct and is that what they call it?? .... also are there other boy leaders we should assign in the troop specifically for the Philmont trip..... We have 9 scouts and 3 adults going....

Thanks Dave

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My Philmont crew was set up as such


9 youth

3 adults


1 Crew Chief (rather than trail chief but same difference)

1 assistant Crew Chief

1 Navigator

1 assistant navigator

1 Chaplain's aide

2 "cooks"

2 "camp organizers"


Those last 2, i just made up the name now, because I can't remember what we called them. Everyone had a job. Job's at Philmont are important, it helps everyone to know what has to be done, and to make sure that someone is always responsible for making sure it happens. Whether that is making the big decisions, figuring out which way is North and South, prepping and cleaning up the meals, hanging the bear bags...whatever.


My crew decided to assign people to jobs around the campsite on a permeant basis for our trip. ie, the cooks/cleaners and camp organizers. We had considered the option of rotating jobs, among everyone, not just those 4 people (5 because the chaplain's aide's job wasn't TOO extensive). So every day everyone did the same job, while on a long trek, especially a Rayado (sp) trek, this might get monotnonous, on a 10 day trek, it isn't bad. And the plus side is, you get GOOD at your job. So whereas the first few days, it might take 20 minutes or more to get your bear bags together and up where there are no pre laid lines, by the time we were 1/2 way through the trek, those 2-3 guys working on that stuff were DONE in 10 minutes. The cooks got good at not burning food (after the 1st day) so they wouldn't have to deal with crunchies and less for the sump (a drain at every campsite for getting rid of small food particles and unusable liquids to keep animals away and increase leave no trace).


Its good for everyone to have something to do, but it is up to the crew going to make those decisions as to what they want everyone to do. A Crew Chief is one of those more important jobs, because they will help make the final decisions on what trek to pick, any modifications to make at base camp, and attend any meetings with the advisors if you are going with an "organized" council.


I'm sure the Philmont guru's on this board will have plenty to add to this thread!



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  • 4 weeks later...

"Trail Chief" isn't an official designation, although I know what you mean, and he or she clearly isn't "assigned" to the position.


The correct designation is "Crew Leader". This person is selected by the members of the crew (peers) to be the equivalent of Patrol Leader while at Philmont. The selection is done most often by election after the crew has been together for a while and after a shakedown practice backpacking weekend at home.


The Crew Leader is the key person at check-in at Philmont and all along the trail at the staffed camps. He or she is the go-to person for the adult advisors and is the main person who works with the crew to set itinerary, routes, duty rosters and the like. The adult advisors certainly keep an eye on things, but leadership among the crew is developed by allowing them to lead.


The crew (not the adults) will also select (or elect) a Chaplain's Aide. This person will provide spiritual leadership with the crew, as well as help with the morale of the crew. He or she will lead (or assign) responsibilities for saying grace before meals, as well as leading Thorns, Roses and Buds each night before turning in. The Chaplain's Aide will also lead daily devotions on the trail.


This may be an elected position, or it may be assigned based on the crew member's desire to be the Chaplain's Aide. The Crew Leader, along with input from the adult crew advisors, will make the final decision in that case.


One of the all-important skills for each crew member to learn is navigating with map and compass. Each crew needs to assign a "Navigator" and "Assistant Navigator", affectionately referred to as "Navi-guessers", each day on the trail. LOL Assigning is the responsibility of the Crew Leader. The crew is strongest when everyone gets their turn at navigating on the trail.


Other crew assignments are made by the Crew Leader. A duty roster clearly makes for a more efficient setting-up and tearing down of camp. It also makes in-camp responsibilities like cooking and clean-up go without major discussion. Everyone knows ahead of time who's doing what each day on the trail. Our crew decided to rotate cooks, cleanup, tarp and bear bag responsibilities, etc. everyday. It worked out beautifully.


Good luck on your trek. You're going to have a trip of a lifetime!



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We did something similar a couple of years ago.

Permanent Crew Leader and Asst Crew Leader. These guys functioned similar to Patrol Leader and Asst for all crew activities starting many months ahead during shakedown and all preparation activities. Crew Leader was crucial in pulling the team together before we hit the trail.

Crew Leader assigned permanent duties which were accomplished as soon as we arrived in the campsite every day.

Dining fly - 4 guys

Bear bags - 2 guys

Water boys - 3 guys (gather, fill, treat if required all empty water bottles and dromedary bags for dinner prep)

By sticking to the same jobs for these set-up tasks, everything was well organized and done in minutes.


We rotated Cook and Asst Cook every day. Note that tomorrow's cooks started their job the evening before when they would find and organize the next day's meals. (To minimize later time hunting through multiple bags for food, we used our own color-coded and labeled stuff sacks.) Cooks also did clean-up, but were free to enlist anyone standing around.


We also rotated Navi-guesser and Asst every day. Their job also started the evening before when they would study the maps with Crew Leader to get ready. Before we hit the trail every morning, they would give us a quick trail briefing. Something along the lines of "Today we're going to travel a total of 9.5 miles with about 3000 feet of vertical descent and 4000 feet of serious climbing. Hardest stretch will be between x and y later this morning. We plan to stop at Miranda for black powder shooting before pressing on to Baldy Town for the night. It looks like water will be scarce for the first few hours today, so everyone be sure to leave camp with full bottles."


We didn't have a separate Chaplain's Aide, because Crew Leader had prepared a Bible study which he led every evening.


The adults didn't learn about it until our first night on the trail, but the Crew Leader had also assigned a Pokermaster position. That scout's job was to carry a big bag of plastic chips/cards and to set up the nightly poker tournament. My first reaction was to make them trash the chips, but I resisted and was glad I did. Chips were just to establish winner's bragging rights and the games made our camp a gathering point for surrounding crews and leaders. We all made a lot of new friends on the trail.


It was amazing to watch the team working in action.

With or without the chips, you're going to have a great time!!



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Wow, thanks so much for the advise, all 12 of us going have never been there before so I'm gathering all the information I can. One question I have is, when talking to people who have gone... their weight of their backpacks vary from 35# to over 50#. Why is there such a difference.... of course I'm looking to see how I can keep mine at 35# without going broke.

Thanks again I really appreciate the advise.


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To keep your pack as light as possible, start by thinking 20#. Twenty pounds for your pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, raingear and personal items. If you're close to that (or less) when you get to Philmont, you'll end up having a pack that weighs closer to 35# on the trail than 50#.


As an example - my gear:

Backpack: 6#

Sleeping bag: 3#

Sleeping pad: 2#

Raingear: 2#

Clothing, etc: 6-7#


I've rounded off the numbers, but you get the idea.


You can cut a bunch of weight without going on a crazy spending spree if you simply shop the deals. I'm a big advocate of buying from a retail store because the expertise of the sales people is invaluable. But, with that said, shopping online can help steer you in the right direction.


Many backpacks can weigh upwards of 8 pounds or more. Many weigh 6 pounds or less.


Sleeping bags can be both heavy AND bulky. Think 20 degree bags and 3 pounds and you'll be ok. I like a down bag, but there are many synthetic bags that weigh and pack about the same as down. Be wary of BULK.


Sleeping pads can get heavy too. Options are going with a 3/4 length pad to save weight AND space in the pack. Other options are going to the light self-inflating pads (like a Thermarest brand). Many of them weigh less than 2#. I carry a full length Thermarest pad and love it. You could say it's my luxury item.


Raingear: You must have a rainsuit, no ponchos. There are several on the market that are lightweight and pack small. I like the packable nylon raingear from Cabelas, although I think you can find them elsewhere. Cost is around $60 for jacket and pants. Buying GoreTex will work, but beware of weight and packability, and be prepared to spend some serious cash, probably upwards of $200 unless you find some closeouts someplace.


Personal clothing: Wear one pair of nylon zip-offs, carry the other. Same with quick-dry t-shirts. Pack a couple extra pairs of socks, a long sleeve shirt and a fleece and you're good to go for 10 days on the trail.


Good luck. Less than a month until you pick your trek. Have you made any decisions yet?

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Swigs, welcom to the forum :)


I'm curious, why can't one have a poncho at Philmont? I grew up in Seattle and always used a poncho and gators when camping and hiking. I can't imagine dealing with the inconvenience of using a rain suit. If I had the opportunity to go to Philmont but wasn't allowed my poncho, I might just go somewhere else instead. :)



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"If I had the opportunity to go to Philmont but wasn't allowed my poncho, I might just go somewhere else instead."


I hope you're not serious.


Trying to go backpacking in the rain while wearing a poncho is akin to walking in the wind with a skirt. (Since I don't wear skirts, let alone in the wind, an assumption is being made here :) ). Everything you want to stay covered doesn't. Combine body movements, wind and the fact you're wearing a backpack and you'll find yourself with a jumbled mess of plastic trying to cover you and keep you dry.


In addition, you get no coverage and protection from the rain on the lower half of your body. With a poncho, it's impossible to have consistent protection simply because you're wearing a non-form-fitting sheet.


There's no fighting with your rain protection if you're wearing a rain jacket and pants because the protection is there, and it fits properly. You don't have to worry about wind blowing your poncho all over the place or having the material "scrunch up" leaving areas of your clothing or skin exposed.


Rainsuits inconvenient? The only inconvenience I could ever imagine would be for rain pants not to have zippered sides making one take off his or her boots to put them on... and that's a minor thing vs. putting up with a poncho.


And thanks for the welcome to the board.(This message has been edited by Swigs)

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Well, I've never had Swig's problems with a poncho. Gators keep the lower legs dry, especially if you're going through brush. If it starts raining, you don't even have to take your backpack off to put it on. All you have to do is have your buddy pull it out of your backpack and hand it to you so you can. When the rain stops, you don't even have to take it off, you can just throw the front part over your pack and continue hiking. This is especially nice when treking through rain showers. Now that's convenience. I also find that ponchos have much better ventilation than rain suits and that really does help keep one dry while hiking.


From your response, It appears there really is no rule that says rain suits are required and I would be allowed to bring my poncho. Correct? So I guess I would go on that Philmont trek after all. :)



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Swigs, thanks a million, both my son and I will shoot for 20#. That's what I needed a target. I just bought a pack it weighs 5.2 #, just bought a bag it weighs just under 3#. Thanks for the hint on the rain suit, I don't have a bunch of time to shop around so I'll just head to Cabela's and yeh, I don't need to think about spending $200 on a rain suit. I have not yet purchased a pad yet, but plan on buying my son a 3/4" pad, he doesn't even want to carry one but I told him he needed to. What did you take for camp shoes???? We picked our treks already and I gave them to our council coordinator........ Another question for you..... training...... I'm not in terrible shape but right now I'm just walking about 40 every other day, when it gets nice, I will ride the bike..... the elevation concerns me since we live in the midwest...... any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Dave

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Hi Dave,

As for camp shoes, our crew found lightweight sneakers to be the best. They're comfortable, certainly lighter than our hiking boots and they just felt good on our feet at the end of a day on the trail.


A couple of the guys had Keen sandals with the covered toes. You can find them in lots of outdoor gear stores. We all were envious. The guys who had them loved them and they protected the feet very well while being light to carry in the pack during the day. There are a couple different models, one with a mesh lining and one without. The one without mesh lining has the typical straps that a sandal would have. Both, however, have the protective rubber toes to protect against bumping rocks.


I almost made a big mistake before we left. I bought "Aqua Socks" as in-camp shoes for both my son and me. Thanks to information from other Philmont vets, I left them at home and packed comfortable sneakers. With the rocky ground at Philmont, they were clearly the right decision, and the boys all felt the same way. The other thing to consider on in-camp shoes is, what do you wear if you have boot problems? I could have worn the sneakers. Aqua Socks would have been a killer.


As for not bringing a sleeping pad to Philmont, I certainly would never go without one. I can sleep anywhere, but at the end of a long day on the trail, tired, and with sore muscles, it's awfully nice to lay down on something soft and comfortable.


Want one more thing that guys will die for? Bring a soft gardener's kneeling pad to use as a butt cushion. It weighs nothing and you can strap it on the outside of your pack when you're on the trail. You'll have the most comfortable seat in camp. You'll know what I mean when you get there.


Good luck! I see you're in Cross Plains. I'm only 125 miles or so northeast of you. Always nice to help a fellow Badger!




(This message has been edited by Swigs)(This message has been edited by Swigs)

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The small pad is the way to go...my oldest is in one of the Service Academies, and he is able to stow it in his computer case, just in case he finds a place to sneak a quick catnap, and not worry about how hard it is. :) Aaah, the things we learn in Scouts!

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