By Adrian
Apr 25, 2015

Philmont: a Right of Passage for Troop 411

Every couple of years, Troop 411 (Hilltop Methodist Church in Sandy, UT) sends a crew or two for a Philmont trek. It is a grueling, but remarkable experience for both the Scouts and their adult leaders. We wanted to give some of our participants a chance to share a little bit about their experience.

Troop 411 on their Philmont Trek


This is our Crew #804 just beginning their adventure. Top row from left to right Stewart Wood, Dale Fox, Frank Williams, Ian Penderghast, Zeb Van Hoffman, Dick Linville. Front row: Tyler Wood, Trey Fox, Mason Fox, Philmont guide Spencer, Shawn Crook, Bryan Williams, Michael Campbell.

Zeb: Philmont was a truly life-changing experience for me. Seeing the beautiful landscape unmolested by man was wonderful. Watching a sunrise high atop a mountain with a vast plane so flat you can see the curve of the earth, only to have the horizon be interrupted by faraway mountains is something absolutely incomparable. I got to see things in a new light that I had overlooked before. I had never really appreciated limited space before. I was used to hoarding everything I thought might be useful, but after a few days I ditched the uneaten goodies I kept stashed. Sometimes being prepared involves leaving things behind as much as taking them along.

But the thing I took away most was the human connection. With a group strung together and always looking out for each other, giving assistance without being asked and checking in constantly, I felt at home. We learned each other’s personalities and quirks: some were stubborn, or adventurous, or always willing to help, or complained too much, or complained too little when they were in need, or even were great leaders who were struggling to relax and just be a kid (or maybe vice versa). And through all this we learned to become a single, well-functioning unit. By knowing what everyone needed and what the group needed, we were able to react to any issues that appeared, up to and including the plague of a virus that eventually infected every single one of us and even forced a few days back at the base camp medical tent. Our crew became a unit that I will never not be a part of.

Shawn: At the beginning, I was the youngest at barely being 14 while all the others were at least 16, I was the weakest while having the least experience, and I didn’t believe I had what it took to hike an astounding 74 miles over a total of 6 peaks! The first two days were miserable because I had no idea what I was doing it seemed but over time it got easier. I started looking forward to each day as it came instead of dreading the trail again. We did a ton of fun things at each destination which really helped with morale. Activities such as Rock climbing and rappelling, horse back riding, black powder shooting. Each destination was different from the last as far as the amazing staff we met and the beautiful scenery. One of the best things I remember was the scenery from the trail. I was really impressed with how well the trails had been built with ‘trail harmony’ On the second day we could barely glimpse the Tooth of Time in the distance and we realized that was where would go and I didn’t believe I could make it. But day by day it got closer until we finally saw that moment where the sun reached the horizon on the morning of our final day. It was a sight to remember that’s for sure. If I could go back to Philmont I’d do it again in a heartbeat just so I could see the change it’d bring to others and be part of an amazing crew and grow as team because at the end of each arduous day that’s what made it worth it.

Our Troop 411 boys on a rest stop at Philmont.


Group: Trey, Bryan, Shawn (Shorn), Tyler, Michael, Zeb.

Michael: Being able to go to Philmont Scout Ranch was by far one of the best experiences of my life. At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. I wasn’t a big fan of setting up camp one day and tearing it down the next morning. Backpacking seemed irrelevant to me. Why would you want to keep moving from place to place when there was so much to do at the current one? What I learned when it was all done and over though was that it’s not just about a single area it’s about being able to take each minute you have and enjoy it to its fullest. The things I saw and did at Philmont will always be with me and the people I spent those 14 days with will always be there for me when I need them. Philmont not only changed my outlook on backpacking, it changed my outlook on life. I know take the time to appreciate the natural world around me and the work people do to better the experiences for me. If I could only have done one thing in my scouting career it would have been Phillmont. As the staffers say “I want to go baaaaaaaaaack to Philmont!”

Tyler: My time at Philmont Scout ranch was a life changing experience. I first walked on to Philmont thinking that it would be easy, just another backpacking trip. But, what I didn’t realize was that Philmont was something that nothing could really prepare me for. It was something that changed my body, and my spirit. It pushed me to my limits and even more. It pushed me to the point where I was considering getting off the trail, and giving up. But I persevered. I kept going, and pushing myself because I knew I could do it. That is what Philmont does to you; it pushes you, tests you, and can even break you. But in the end, it was all worth it.

Our Scouts working on some projects at Philmont.


Ian: Philmont is a great summer activity that was one of the best events I ever went to. Although I was not as fit as some of my crew members when we went up, I was able to keep pace with them easily. When I went up there, I thought that I was going into a really tough hike. It isn’t a hike, it’s an experience that was easier than I had imagined. The best parts, however, where when we met our ranger, Spencer, and when we got into Sawtooth, (the place where we got to shoot really big guns). I highly recommend Philmont to anyone who likes the outdoors and/or likes camping.

Bryan: The trek at Philmont was a real challenge, but we came together as a team to get through it. We had fun at each camp, doing something different each evening. I wasn’t sure I could do it but I got my ‘Philmont legs’ after the first day or so. And guys, soccer is better than baseball, wrestling, and especially water polo

We chose Assistant Scoutmaster Dale Fox to represent the adult leaders on the Trek. This is his second Philmont Trek with his two sons Trey and Mason.

Dale: Philmont Scout Ranch is a special place. The Boy Scouts of America have set aside over 200 square miles of wilderness with the aim of giving young men and women an opportunity to learn and grow while experiencing nature in a way most people that live in cities do not get to anymore. As an adult, I have participated in two treks to Philmont and I cannot recommend this experience enough. The constantly changing scenery and the great activities at the Staff Camps are worth the trip, but the growth and experience you can give your scouts is the most important reason you should go.

You have the opportunity to participate in activities like horseback riding, rock climbing, blacksmithing, or exploring an old mine shaft with the most dedicated and friendly staff, anywhere. The Philmont staff are truly remarkable people that generally love what they are doing and understand how important it is that you succeed. They are there to keep you safe, but they will do everything they can to make it a positive experience for your crew.

While the trip can be physically and mentally challenging for both the youth and the adults, it are these challenges that make the most positive change in the scouts. As the trek progresses, you see the crew work through hard times and bond with each other into a cohesive group. They only grow in confidence as the miles and the mountain tops are checked off. As an adult, your job is to be the safety net and help the Crew Leader as he leads your crew through the ten day trek. For your effort, you get to see a group of young adults find out that doing something that is hard is worth the effort. Not every scout will want to go to Philmont, but the ones that will go will be changed. They may find a love for the outdoors, they may gain a skill they didn’t have before, or they may just come away knowing they can do something hard, with a little help from their crew. The scouts that I went with all have come away from Philmont with new skills, great stories, great friends and memories that will last their lifetime. That is what Scouting is all about.

For the 2016 season, Troop 411 is putting together a canoe trek for Northern Tier.

Author: Adrian |  Adrian is a blogger who is passionate about helping parents with parenting tips, managing their finances, and organizing their homes. She has a full-time job in the financial industry and is part of the leadership of Troop 411 at Hilltop United Methodist Church in Sandy, UT.


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3 thoughts on “Philmont: a Right of Passage for Troop 411

  1. Michelle {Fun On a Dime}

    Love this! It never gets old hearing everyone’s experiences at Philmont because every individual’s experience is different. I worked there for 2 summers and always think…“I want to go baaaaaaaaaack to Philmont!”

  2. Pingback: Guest Posting on the Utah Scouts Blog - Adrian's Crazy Life

  3. Ralph (2 Eagle Scout Dad)

    As a Dad, it is always interesting to read the different perspectives the scouts have on their Philmont trek. My oldest Eagle started a trend for his troop 420 in Maryland. He applied for Staff, and yes, he did a trek before the Staff tour (whole summer – different perspective) . As a Dad, listening to him describe the fireworks he got to attend at Eagle’s nest, reminded me of calling his mother’s parents on our honeymoon from Disney World while watching fireworks. Youngest Eagle also did a trek, and then following his brother, applied and was accepted as a Ranger. – Yes, he got to do the tour of Ranger duty, and his parents and brother managed to pick him up from Philmont and then tour many of the places to visit, including Winchester Mystery House, and Alcatraz, just to name two of many. Fast forward two years later, and youngest Eagle says to his brother, while we were all in one area, guess where I am going? Oldest one says you are going home. Gee, Dad, says, you are home aren’t you? Both say, no Home is Philmont. This time, though, we dropped him off in the car, in May, so we got to visit “home” again. Then we went touring again without him. He only missed San Diego Zoo and the Grand Canyon which he saw before when he was young, and not even in scouts. We left the vehicle with him, and flew back, but, we got to see Philmont in full bloom again. But, did get to see Dealey Plaza in Texas, and the BSA National Museum. That was a thrill, both to see, and because his mother worked for the company of one donor of an exhibit. So, when I can, I visit again via different eyes, Maybe, I can convey something to someone else through my writing.


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