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wadahoot

bad Philmont experiences?

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Before I bought equipment, I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people to see what they liked and why. I really don't like buying twice, the price is always prohibitive.

 

I bought a pair of hiking boots that wasn't on the SM's list and caught a real tongue lashing. It got really bad when one of the boys copied what I bought. Well, 8 years later I still have them and although we had a rough trek (all 5 major peaks), the other boy and I were the only ones on the team that didn't get blisters. I have flat feet so I had other problems, but blisters wasn't one of them. When it comes to equipment, there's no such thing as too much information.

 

Stosh

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The feet are the foundation of a Trek. If they aren't well taken care of, it all goes South.

 

Visit a specialist boot dealer. I'm not overly concerned about if they sell work boots or field boots. A specialist has contacts, and knows who to steer you to. He/she understands boots, understands fit.

 

Go for quality. Quality will cost more, but it will be worth it.

 

My personal hiking boots lasted me for over 20 years before age changed the dimensions of my foot.

 

The field boots I bought for the Army in 1983 are still in my closet 25 years later (they are superb German boots, bought when I was stationed there).

 

Learn what quality looks like, learn to listen to the salesman. The more questions he asks before he/she points you to a boot, the better the boot will probably be to your purpose.

 

My $0.02.

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"The field boots I bought for the Army in 1983 are still in my closet 25 years later"

 

Maybe if you had taken them out of the closet something during the past 25 years they would have worn out! :-)

 

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Preparation is everything. I did treks in 1979, 85 miles, and 1990, 65 miles. If we had not done shakedowns and conditioning, we would have been in serious trouble, even though we backpacked regularly in So.Cal. I still remember a couple of crews in base camps complaining about how hard it was; they admitted they had done nothing other than a couple of short weekenders; plus they had not acclimated themselves. Still, one group came off trail the same time we did, and they still said it was one of the best experiences ever. The youth leader told me though that he would try to make sure others from his troop and council better prepared ahead.

Feet are absolutely a priority, and proper socks and liners are part of the critical element. If you are fortunate, you will not have to hike in too much rain, but likely will do some. Stream crossing can be tricky, and feet very well may get wet even with lots of caution. If there later in the season, you may be like us in 1990; we had rain 9 out of 10 days, half of them all day. Still remember coming down a trail in 70ish temps and 100% humidity; rain was running off my poncho and down my legs into my boots to join the sweat already there. Went through two changes of socks a day. Be prepared with moleskin and know how to recognize and treat blisters and related annoyances.

Will always look back on these treks with fond memories. Only wish I had gone in the early 60's when I was an explorer. Not likely to go again, as have trouble with ankles and back now.

 

 

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It's pretty much what others have said, but here are the things that I have found contribute to a less than great Philmont experience (or high advcnture camping experience in general)

 

1) Not being physically fit

2) Not doing the training hikes and being prepared

3) Having less than great equipment or not knowing how to use it

4) Having a sense of entitlement (this normally applies to adults more than youth.)

 

And the number one reason for having a less than great time

 

5) Having a bad attitude.

 

This latter one can be:

 

a) My share of the work is unfair

b) My share of the gear to carry is unfair

c) I don't like the leader/ I wanted to be the leader

d) This is harder than I expected

e) Everybody is picking on me

f) My girlfriend/boyfriend broke up with me right before we came

 

etc.etc.etc.

 

Philmont crews follow the normal curve of "forming, storming, norming, performing" as they are on their trek. About the day 2-3, attitude can get pretty rough sometimes. By the end of the trek, the crew is a great team but if something happens to a Scout to bring them out about day 2-3, they could report a bad experience.

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It is interesting that from my experiences, boys will not seriously train to get more physically in shape for a trek. The shakedowns typically are enough to let them know if they can hack it. I used to worry about the scouts not being physically in shape, but they typically do very well. At least as well as the worst performing adult.

 

The only time we had a problem with a scout who couldnt handle it was the one who missed most of the shakedowns do to a competitive soccer schedule. And it was mental fitness that was his problem, not physical. Looking back on it now, I think he might have had mountain sickness. That was when our troop was young and learning. So as a result, we enforce the requirement of attending a minimum number of shakedowns, especially if the scout had never been on a trek before.

 

The adults on the other hand take getting in shape pretty seriously, and they need to. We had one adult whose business prevented him from attending shakedowns for our Northern Tier Trek. He was miserable the whole trip. He took charge of the Philmont trip next year and was in training for six months.

 

As for the bad attitude that Neil was talking about: Most of the time you can identify those guys as ones who didnt want to be their in the first place. We tried to weed them out at the shakedowns as well, but it isnt always possible.

 

I did have a couple of the sense of entitlement adults Neal talks about. The problem there is that they tend to lie back during the shakedowns, but the stress of the long physical week erodes their patience. Since we usually took several crews, I spent a lot of time sitting with the crew adults trying get them to understand our roles in these crews. I've said before, if the adults are more excited for the trip then the scouts, you might have a problem.

 

All in all, most of these things can be prevented before the trek starts.

 

Barry

 

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The comment regarding something occurs to change some participants reminded me of one of our youth in 79. He was a capable teenager with more than adequate physical skills; but he was really withdrawn much of the time, and often had to be prodded to get involved. We traveled for 3 and a half days getting to base, and he was cooped up with the others constantly, as our trip was a 1,000 miles. By mid way through something happened. We had stopped somewhere in Arizona or so, and this boy bought a cowboy hat. That hat became his persona, somehow; he actually liked the teasing name of "Tex" it generated. The rest of the trip it was like we had never known the boy.

 

For whatever reason, when we returned, the hat went in a closet or something, and he reverted to the same introverted youth. All of the participants hoped we could find the "other" person again, but it never happened.

 

Possibly connected to this anecdote is the fact that a few years later, he became psychologically challenged and eventually went into an institution for a period of time. Have been told they diagnosed and got him on regular meds, and that he now functions well again; but have thought that our "Tex" may have been a precursor of the breakdown that came a few years later. Not being a psychiatrist, I do not really know. Sad, but somehow also great story.

 

 

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Lots can happen, between unexpected wildlife encounters to crazy weather. This is what Scouting trains boys for. Eventually, we hope they get strong enough and mature enough to handle adversity. Otherwise, why are they in Scouting.

 

Being prepared, including good gear, broken in boots, skills training and physical conditioning will go a long way to helping a Scout handle whatever is thrown at him at Philmont.

 

I went, had a blast. It rained some, it was dry some, people complained, some Scouts helped fellow Scouts as necessary. The TEAM worked.

 

 

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Went to Philmont back in '84... was a 15 year old then and went with a Council contingent.

 

It rained every day enough to soak your feet and boots... but loved it.

 

Camp infiltrated with bears that ate our deserts every night.. but loved it.

 

Carried a 90lb pack for close to 100 miles... LOVED it.

 

Only bad story would be my tent mate dehydrating mid-trip and being lifted out of the area. That left me with his half of the tent gear, my own, and a bit more crew gear... He was back on the trail in a couple of days after being pumped full of fluids....

 

It is the bad stories that make us stronger and give us more character building.. if Philmont was easy would we all love it and remember it so fondly?

 

As an adult leader, the Philmont arrowhead patch is the only one I ever wear on my right pocket... no other could ever replace the memeories and the pride I have in the experience.

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Gotta agree with you 100%, bkale. Philmont's the best, but I wear the Triple Crown High Adventure patch on my right pocket because it symbolizes Philmont, Northern Tier, and Seabase--all of which I dearly loved. I wear my Philmont arrow head neckerchief to remind me of all the wonderful times at the ranch.

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>>I went, had a blast. It rained some, it was dry some, people complained, some Scouts helped fellow Scouts as necessary. The TEAM worked.

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Tne only real bad experience I have heard of involved a Scouter with high blood pressure. He couldn't get his BP down, and wasn't allowed to go on the trek. A 19 year old shouldn't have trouble with that, hopefully.

 

Had a camp staffer tell us he saw a Scout carrying a Dutch oven on a Philmont trek, with it swinging from the bottom of his pack. I would find that hard to believe, but I've seen a Scout carrying a huge 8 D-cell lantern on a backpacking trip.

 

I would suggest your son visit some of the online backpacking sources and do a little reading about equipment and techniques, as well as make the shake-downs.

http://www.backpacker.com/cgi-bin/forums/ikonboard.cgi

http://www.practicalbackpacking.com/forums/

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No sympathy for the overweight scouter who was rejected, my sympathy goes to the boys he disappointed by leaving them short changed. On both the Philmont medical form and the Philmont guide book, both of which the prospective trekker received, there is an easy to follow weight chart with admonitions on not exceeding your max weight. A scouter who is not within his weight band, should not even show up and arrange a replacement.

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