Yes, Philmont is about big blue skies, fantastic vistas and wonderful backcountry program. But in order to take it all in your crew must be trained to operate like a Swiss watch. It is important to be able to execute the necessary tasks with efficiency so the crew can get to what Philmont is all about - fun, excitement, and the best outdoor experience most will ever have.
Daily tasks, such as health, hygiene, camp setup, clean up, navigation and cooking, need to be taken care with excellence and speed. Hence the crew must be organized and trained around a plan. There are many ways to make it happen - what follows is but one example, assuming you are working with nine Scouts and three advisors, the recommended crew size;. The plan is made up of assignments about equal in difficulty and time. It can be made to work for crews using a duty roster either of rotating or fixed assignments throughout the trek - the pros and cons of rotating versus fixed assignments will be reviewed in a coming Watchu Gram.
Crew Chief (or Crew Leader, one youth crew member): The Crew Chief, or Crew Leader, is a youth member elected by the youth members of the crew. The success of the trek is absolutely dependent on the Crew Chief. The Crew Chief provides leadership for the crew members and is accountable for all crew activity. The Crew Chief supports all crew members in executing their assignments. The Chief makes certain the crew is healthy, clean, safe, and eating good food. The Chief also makes certain the crew accurately navigates the backcountry of Northern New Mexico, and is on time and on schedule. And most of all, the Chief establishes a social environment that guarantees all crew members an exciting and fun adventure. In the language of Scouting, the Crew Chief is a "Servant Leader". The March package from Philmont will contain more information about this all-important position, and there will be sessions at both May's Watchu Mountain Adventure and during Day 1 at Philmont to help the Crew Leader understand the position and succeed at it. Note carefully the use of the word "accountable" as opposed to "responsible." The "responsible" crew member has the duty to accomplish a task (see below). The Crew Chief who is "accountable" provides the leadership to make certain the task is completed by the "responsible" members. The crew counts on the "a-count-able" person to know all is well. Cooks (two youth members): The cooks are responsible for preparing all crew meals in the backcountry. Most breakfasts and all lunches are cold - the cooks simply distribute them to each crew member. All suppers have an entrée that must be rehydrated - the cooks boil the necessary water, prepare the ingredients, and distribute the meal when ready. They must set an example of cleanliness at all times. Fire and Water Team (three youth members): This team is responsible for the maintenance of the crew's water and stoves. This means knowing where to get water at all times. This means guaranteeing the crew is carrying enough crew water when going into dry camps. This means having water available for the cooks when the cooks are ready to cook the evening meal. The Fire and Water Team is responsible for the crew stoves, and fires them up when the cooks are ready. Thus, the team must work closely with the cooks. The Fire and Water Team also is responsible for having water ready and heated for the Clean-Up Team after the evening meal. Important note: The Advisor assigned to stove safety and maintenance must be present when the Fire and Water Team is lighting or working with the stoves...at all times. The Clean-up Team (two youth members): This team is responsible for crew sanitation. Their most important duty is to guarantee that the crew cooking utensils and each crew member's eating utensils are sterile before meals - the method for doing this will be reviewed in a coming Watchu Gram. The Clean-up Team is also responsible for crew clean up after meals, the Yum Yum Bag (more about this later), disposal of waste liquids, and packing out all crew waste. Many a crew has been forced back to base camp because of illness caused by an unsanitary approach to these important crew obligations. Finally, the Clean-up Team is accountable for camp site cleanliness and camp site policing upon leaving in the morning (for which the entire crew is responsible.) A side benefit of this morning policing is not leaving crew equipment or personal belongings behind. Chaplain Aide (one youth member): There will be more about this assignment in an in-depth description of the role of the Chaplain Aide in the package you receive from Philmont in March, as well as a session during May's Watchu Mountain Adventure. Also, your Philmont Ranger and a Philmont Chaplain will go over the detailed reflection and meditation process called "Thorns and Roses" used at Philmont and conducted by the Chaplain Aide. When executed properly, this assignment adds a beautiful and spiritual dimension to a trek. At check-in, each crew member will be issued a wonderful booklet titled Eagles Soaring High, designed by the Philmont Chaplains to support the mission of the Chaplain Aide. The Chaplain Aide also assumes the role of assistant to the Crew Chief. In this role the Chaplain Aide assists the Chief in executing the accountabilities of crew leadership. Wilderness Pledge Guia (Guide, one youth member): No, you did not count incorrectly – this role can be filled by any crew member (other than the Crew Leader or Chaplain Aide) in addition to another position. Like those positions, there will be more about this assignment in an in-depth description of the role of the Wilderness Pledge Guia in the package you receive from Philmont in March, as well as a session during May's Watchu Mountain Adventure. Also, your Philmont Ranger will work directly with the Wilderness Pledge Guia to make sure each member of the crew understand the principles of the Philmont Wilderness Pledge and of Leave No Trace. Navigator (two youth members): This job can be covered by any crew member except the Crew Chief in addition to another assignment (it can not be the Crew Chief, since he or she is the final arbiter when the navigators are stumped.) This is a fun and very important assignment for a well-prepared pathfinder. The crew needs to have, or train, two youth members who can read a map and use a compass ... flawlessly. The Crew Chief should also be an excellent pathfinder - hopefully getting lost will not be included as an element of your Philmont adventure. If your trek takes you to the Valle Vidal (Carson National Forest), the navigators should also have GPS knowledge. Many crews going into the Valle bring their own GPS unit, and in certain Valle Vidal circumstances Philmont will provide GPS training for the crew.
The Crew Chief (Crew Leader) selection is the responsibility of the youth members of the crew. And what an important responsibility it is! They need time to see all their crew mates in action before making their choice. Every youth member of the crew should get a chance to lead. During your crew training you will find that very new criteria come into play in the selection of the right person to be your Philmont Crew Chief. So even if all your crew members come from the same troop, it will not be clear who should lead until all are given a chance. Often the Scout that looked to be the best selection in January is not seen as having the right stuff in May. So go slow with this Crew Chief selection process. It is very important. Let all the Scouts, young and old, try their hand at leading the crew. All, especially the advisors, will be surprised at the leadership qualities that surface, or don't surface. Selecting the right Crew Chief will be your crew's most important decision. And that decision will be with you and your crew, for good or not so good, the entire trek. A successful Philmont experience is absolutely dependent on finding the right youth leader. We strongly recommend your crew hold off on final selection until just before the Watchu Mountain Adventure in May. As crew advisor you should provide coaching as the crew works to find their leader. However, in the end it is the youth members of the crew, not the advisors, who select the Crew Chief. Be aware that at Philmont all staff interaction with the crew will be through the Crew Chief, not the Advisors.
The "Organizing" tab described the various duties that must be done every day while your crew is on the trail, and provided a sample organization of the crew into teams to accomplish the tasks. Three of the positions, Crew Chief (Leader), Chaplain Aide, and Wilderness Pledge Guia are specified by Philmont and will be filled by one youth for the duration of the trek - they are permanent assignments (note the Wilderness Pledge Guia is available for another crew assignment). How all of the other assignments are handled is a crew decision. The two most common approaches are to rotate them through the crew so that each crew member does each of them a couple of times, or to make permanent assignments so each crew member does the same job the entire trek. What follows is but one approach for filling the other positions in crew - there are many possibilities. If you prefer, invent your own process. However, the following suggestions are known to work. No matter your choice of "permanent" or "rotating" assignments, a crew starts off using "rotating assignments" and a duty roster on its shakedown hikes. Each crew member should have the opportunity to perform each position at least once during the months of training. The Crew Chief, Chaplain Aide, and Wilderness Pledge Guia positions should be included as rotating assignments on the crew duty roster. This way every member of the crew gets to experience all of the crew assignments, and the crew gets to see each member in the leadership positions. In the prior Watchu Gram it was strongly recommended to hold your Crew Chief election just before the Watchu Mountain Adventure in May. The election sets the stage for the last, and most important, seven-to-ten weeks of training and makes for an exciting finish to the Watchu Experience. Once the Crew Chief is in place, the crew then decides whether they want to use rotating or permanent assignments for the other crew positions – if they choose before the Watchu Mountain Adventure, that weekend will be an opportunity to experience how the choice is working. If the crew decides to go with "rotating" assignments, simply continue using a duty roster, now prepared by the Crew Chief, throughout the rest of training and during the Philmont trek. If they go with "permanent" assignments, the elected Crew Chief and the crew members together assign each crew member a position. The permanent assignments are based on the "capabilities" and "preferences" of the youth members of your crew. Again, the Scouts make all these decisions. Since you have trained them well, they will allocate the tasks properly. They will have worked as a team throughout the months of training and they know who can do what … better than you do, guaranteed. There are pros and cons to each approach: Rotating Assignments - the duty roster (or patrol method) approach 1. Pro - Scouts experience all assignments throughout training and the 11 days at Philmont. 2. Pro - There is a clear sense that the assignments are fairly allocated. 3. Con - There is considerable variation in performance. For example, not everyone is a good cook. 4. Con - Speed of execution will not be optimum, since each crew member has a new job every day. 5. Con - No matter how well the duty roster is documented, disputes may arise as to who does what. Permanent Assignments - each crew member has fixed tasks 1. Pro - Scouts gets to experience all the assignments during the early months of training. 2. Pro - There is no question who does what, eliminating the Crew Chief's need to enforce the duty roster. 3. Pro - Things get done with excellence, quickly. Each task is performed by an expert. 4. Pro - Generally there is more time for blue skies and backcountry program. 5. Con - Scouts do not get to experience all assignments during the final months of training and the 11 days at Philmont. For some, item #5 under Permanent Assignments is a big "con", but that is not necessarily so. In the end, with a well-trained crew, either approach will work very well. All else being equal, the permanent assignment approach may stand a better chance of guaranteeing the real Philmont experience. But it is the crew's choice! Either way, make sure nothing gets in the way of time spent engaged in the fantastic backcountry program. Do all you can to provide plenty of time for the most incredible outdoor adventure many will ever experience.
Advisors (three adults): The advisors are responsible for the preparation and training of the crew. Most importantly, the advisors are accountable for the health and safety of the crew. These duties are ongoing from the first gathering of your crew until your return home. No later than the time of your arrival at the airport, the Crew Chief will have assumed leadership of the crew. From then until return, advisors stand back and let the Scouts make it happen. Advisors only intervene if the crew's health and safety are threatened. You trained 'em, they can do it! Once at Philmont, the advisors are the crew's guests. For example, to emphasize this role, many crews vote to serve their advisors first at meals. In your supporting role you may wish to carry the crew’s first aid kit, the stoves, and the fuel - items which need a little extra care to insure safety. The Scouts will carry the remaining crew equipment and food. Food and fuel are never carried in the same pack. Finally, it is strongly advised that each advisor focus on one main aspect of crew development. The "Lead (or Contact) Advisor" should act as mentor to the Crew Chief and Chaplain Aide. A second advisor, called the "Health and Safety Advisor", should be the mentor to the Fire and Water Team, the cooks, and the Clean-up Team. And the third advisor, called the "Trail and Team Advisor", mentors to those scouts executing those duties and operations not otherwise covered, especially the Navigators.
Established in 1939, Philmont Scout Ranch has been called “Scouting’s Paradise” in New Mexico. It encompasses more than 137,000 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains where elevations range from 6,500 ft to more than 12,000 ft
Description: A 15-day Rocky Mountain adventure including:
Round trip air transportation to Colorado, the Rocky Mountain State, including checked baggage fees
Bus transportation, room, and 6 meals during a 2-day tour of the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado, typically including:
A ride on the cog railway to the awe-inspiring 14,110 foot high summit of Pike’s Peak
An exciting 9-mile, Class III and Class IV whitewater rafting trip on the Arkansas River
A chuck wagon dinner with a western musician
A visit to the spectacular Manitou Indians' “Garden of the Gods,” including a hike and a multi-media show
Access to University of Colorado recreation center
550-mile round trip transportation to Cimarron, New Mexico on a modern motor coach, including a meal on the return to Colorado
12-day high adventure Philmont backcountry trek
Trek itinerary (to be determined by crew) to cover 50-100 miles of backpacking with daily activities that may include horseback riding, blackpowder shooting, spar pole climbing, archaeological digs, trail construction, rock climbing, etc.