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wadahoot

bad Philmont experiences?

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Hello!

 

I've been involved in Scouting for 13 years as a Cub Leader and on to become an Eagle Mom. My son has always heard that Philmont is the trip-of-all-trips, the Experience That Will Change Your Life, etc. We NEVER hear negatives about Philmont. My son is now 19, finishing his Freshman year in college and has a chance to finally go to Philmont.

 

I'm not trying to be a worried Mom (that's long past!), but to be sure he has reasonable expectations of the trip. He's not inexperienced ... he's camped a lot with BSA, went to Jambo 2001, was the SPL for Jambo 2005, been to Sea Base - however, he's never backpacked! I'm just not sure he truly knows what he's in for at Philmont.

 

Can anyone point me in a direction to read JUST how hard it will be, even if they have to be negative reviews of Philmont? He needs to decide SOON, so anything you can steer me toward would be most welcome!

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I went to PTC, EagleSon (then Star) went on the Mountain Trek (a 7 day trek to be at Philmont while we were in the classroom). He was a little small for his age, and (in spite of what training I could give him) he was not as well trained up as he should have been.

 

Even so, he had a blast!

 

One opportunity your son might want to explore is the OA Trail Crew. It's a 3 week trek, as I recall: The Arrowmen (all under 21) work for a week on a task set them by the Philmont Ranger staff, then they have complete freedom of the reservation for their Trek. I've heard of a Crew that did the Tooth, Baldy, and Mt Phillips in their time... that's just no doable for a standard trek.

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Thanks for the public and private replies I've received!

 

I didn't make it clear that he's going with a Council Contingent, and the Crew of which he is a part is made up exclusivly of Scouts/Scouters from our Troop. So, I'm expecting there is some set schedule already prepared, although I don't see any details on the original flier and/or sign-up sheet.

 

Any other takers out there to tell me the bad and the ugly - or point me toward tales of terror?! Thanks!

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The worst crew experience I heard was from the crew coming off the trail as we were getting on. That crew had eight days of snow, rain and hail and the daily temps hung around 60 degrees. Other than it was raining when we passed that crew, we never saw another drop of rain our 10 days on the trail and the daily temps were in the 70s. Luck of the draw I guess.

 

Also at 19, your son will be treated as an adult and that has some added benefits.

 

Barry

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If he's going with a youth contingent they will in all likelyhood be having at least one or more shakedown outings before they go.(At least they should be, heaven help them all if they don't!) If he participates in these, at 19 he should be fine. Remember the program is geared to 14-18 year olds.

 

If he can't make the crew shakedown outings, he should try and get out on a trail, with a buddy or two at least a couple of times. It is important these shakedowns be at least 2 nights. Just about any Tenderfoot can survive one night on the trail, stuff everything in a pack and hike out the next day. It's the cleaning, and packing stuff up, hiking all day and then using everthing again(i.e tent, stove, fuel, food, etc.) the NEXT day that's the tough part. He mostly needs to get comfortable with his equipment, pack, boots, sleeping bag etc.

 

If he's height/weight proportioned and in reasonable shape he should be able to keep up with the youth. He'll have a great time and wish he could have gone sooner.

 

SA

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You want horror stories all right. Philmont has animals that don't follow the rules. If your son is one of those that think nothing bad will happen so he can do what he wants, keep him home. Bears will "investigate" anything that smells different than normal. One of ours used foot powder and ended up in the hospital with a serious gash on his foot. Another crew were messy eaters and ended up with skunks coming to help them clean up. Other than following the rules he is given to only thing that may spoil his trip would be not being physically prepared. I've been there 4 times in various weather and even with the bear in the tent next to me I loved every minute of every trek. Do shake down hikes. Find some stairs and have your son walk up and down them with his pack. Find some GOOD boots and break them in. The rest should be fun.

 LongHaul

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wadahoot,

 

I've never heard of a bad Philmont experience yet, but I'm sure they exist. I believe that 99% of all Philmont treks are excellent, including my trek last summer with my Eagle Scout son and all his buddies from our troop. It was the best activity of our scouting careers. There's just something awe-inspiring about standing atop of Mt. Phillips at 11,751 feet at sunrise on Father's Day with all our scouts.

 

Feel free to read our trip journals from prior Philmont treks in 1998, 1993, and 1988 if you like at:

 

http://www.troop325bsa.com/highad/index.html

 

Good luck to your son. Make sure he reads everything he can get his hands on about Philmont, and also make sure that he embarks upon a serious training program to prepare himself.

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One of our sister crews in our contingent had a few bad stories. Their biggest complaint was not getting picked up at the end the trek. Waited several hours at the trailhead. Then got passed by by several staff trucks until they put their packs in the road to get them to stop. They were pretty grumpy when we connected back up to them at base.

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We were there in August and had hail, thunderstorms, reaaaaaaly cold nights and I had the time of my life as did the boys.

 

Shakedown hikes are really, really important because they give you the opportunity to find out what gear works and what doesn't work. What you need and what you don't need. And why those $50 hiking boots from Target aren't going to do the job.

 

Our training hikes were on trails that were intensive enough that Philmont didn't throw and big surprises at me. Then again, your son is a lot younger than I am and youth have that wonderful characteristic of reselience.

 

 

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Our ranger worn running shoes as well but they aren't carrying a 40+ lb pack up and down mountains. Our guy carried a bit of food and his tent, maybe 15 lbs. total and we didn't climb any hills. I could do that in my bare feet. :-) Okay, not my bare feet but I could do it my good sandals.

 

 

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No matter what boot you buy, put at least 100 miles in them to make sure they work for you before you go to Philmont.

 

If you have the proper gear and training, I can't see how you can have a bad experience at Philmont.

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Probably the worst Philmont experience that I know of was a Scout that I know who was stricken with altitude sickness at base camp (6,000 feet). They medicated him and kept him in the infirmary for three days and then staff drove him into the back country meet up with his crew. He did Baldy and doesn't regret the experience.

 

Of course there are the occasional Scouts/Scouters who run afoul of a bear or mountain lion. That might be a truly bad experience.

 

 

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Wow, altitude sickness at 6000ft? Heck, I live at 6800ft. We see it sometimes with elderly folk who come visit from sea level. I've gotten it at 13,500ft and it does suck, but descending a few thousand helps tremendously. Not much you can do at 6000ft in the Rockies as you can't get much lower than that quickly. I'm surprised they let him continue the trek.

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He's not the most robust young fellow but he's smart, hard working, and determined so maybe force of will got him out of the infirmary.

 

(This message has been edited by Gold Winger)

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