By Tony Woodard
Jun 19, 2016

Out in God’s Country, Tonight

Living in Utah, many of us experience the outdoors on a regular basis.  We may enjoy camping at our favorite lakeside retreat, hiking to your favorite lookout, fishing at that secret spot, or perhaps, just taking a leisurely drive through the canyons.

Scouting gives us the opportunity to share this with our youth.  As Scout Troops go on campouts, they learn skills far beyond pitching a tent and cooking food that is, usually, edible.  Camping allows us to share an appreciation for the gifts that we have been given by our Creator.  When outdoors, we are separated from the noise and distraction of day-to-day life and are able to focus on what is really important.

Philmont Scout Ranch is Scouting’s largest, and most sought after outdoor experience.  At Philmont, Scouts have the opportunity to venture forth into the back-woods of Northwestern New Mexico on a trek consisting of anywhere from 50-100 miles of challenging adventure.  On this adventure, you are separated from the cares and distractions of the world.  Your focus is on the experience.  Your focus becomes your surroundings, your skills, your talents, and all other gifts that God has given us.

As a youth, I was able to enjoy the opportunities and adventure that Philmont offers a total of three times.  On my third trip, I was Crew leader.  We were several days into our trek and we were camped at the base of 12,441 foot Mount Baldy.  The next day, we were going to summit the highest mountain and overcome the greatest physical challenge of my youth.

Philmont, however, has its way of making us try to understand ourselves and learn at every turn.  The day that we were to summit, the entire Crew overslept and we got a late start on the day.  We were two-thirds of the way up the mountain and weather started moving in.  My Advisor suggested that we re-evaluate the attempt.  I determined that we should continue on and see what the day would bring us.  I was Crew Leader, it was my decision, my responsibility.  We continued until we were only about a mile from the summit; a mile from achieving and overcoming this tremendous challenge.  It was at that time that I learned exactly what it meant to be a leader.  It was my call, and I had to make it.  We had to turn around.  In that single moment, I made a decision that would both haunt me and drive me.

That day, I learned that we can do anything if we put ourselves up to it, even if it means turning away from those things that we view as important.  Instead, if we open our minds and our hearts, we can truly see what is really important in this world.  We can truly learn that life is about the experience, as much as the destination.  We all have destinations in mind.  The one thing that we cannot allow ourselves to do is to miss out on the journey.  If we are too focused on the destination, we can miss out on opportunities to allow ourselves to grow.

The personal and spiritual growth that occurs in the outdoors cannot be matched anywhere.  The opportunity to experience the majesty of God’s creations pushes all scouts to find within themselves talents and abilities that they have not yet discovered.  People grow.  Testimonies grow.  Youth become young men.  Scouts that participate learn what is meant by the words of the Philmont Hymn:

Silver on the sage,
Starlit skies above,
Aspen covered hills,
Country that I love.
Philmont here’s to thee,
Scouting Paradise,
Out in God’s country, tonight

An opportunity has been made available for any Scout aged 14-17 from our Council to join in Crew 720-G in an adventure that will surely help them grow in ways that they cannot even begin to imagine.  Do not miss out on this opportunity to learn to “do hard things” and to see the outdoors in a whole new light.

tony woodard
Author: Tony Woodard | Utah National Parks Council Contingent Leader for Philmont 2016 – 720G1,2,3 July 17 through August 3, 2016



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