Going to Philmont? Here’s All You REALLY Need To Know.

Features / Uncategorized / ZZBLOG POSTS

As you look forward to the adventure of a lifetime at the most famous scout camp in America, it’s important to plan ahead for the amazing moments that lie ahead.

I’m not talking about the big decisions about what gear to bring (although that’s important too), the challenging conditions you’ll be hiking in, the amazing activities you’ll be experiencing, or the interesting people you’ll be meeting at base camp and on the trail. I’m talking about the memories that will forever bond you to the group you travel with and instantly connect you with complete strangers who’ve also shared the Philmont experience–like me.

That’s me in the top left corner along with my crew from Troop 126 Boxford, Mass.

That’s the real magic of Philmont. As awesome as it is in the moment, it’s one of those rare life experiences that stays with you and thousands of other trekkers for the rest of your lives. There’s an example right there. It’s been 26 years since I last roamed the hallowed ground of Philmont but the thought of it instantly brings back a flood of memories “like the fact that campers are called trekkers, that Philmont is a working cattle ranch with “Bar P, Crazy S” as its official brand and that the iconic “Tooth of Time” peak meant a seven-day horse drawn carriage ride to Santa Fe. I didn’t Google these facts (Scout’s Honor), they’re entrenched in my memory in a place where I am forever young and starring in my own version of the movie “Stand By Me” with a bunch of guys who I’m still friends with.

The topographic map of Philmont as it hangs in Derek Chesley’s house (my row, far right in the group photo above).

Philmont brings out the best in people. At least it did in my two experiences there. My friends and I learned to “set a goal and make a plan.” We took turns dealing with the occasional unpleasant stuff and shared equally in the abundant good stuff. We busted on each other, but we also supported each other, helped each other, and encouraged each other to break out of our comfort zones and try new things. New things like rock climbing, spar pole climbing, black powder musket shooting and climbing Mount Baldy in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise the next morning. The last activity is NOT part of the Philmont agenda and was probably against camp policy even when we did it in 1988 but I think enough time has passed where I can mention it publicly without repercussion.

Baldy Sunrise

Simply put, the two trips I took to Philmont Scout Ranch were two of the happiest times in my life. It is my sincere hope as a grown adult and an Eagle Scout that anyone with plans to attend Philmont this summer has the same incredible experience that I did and carries along the same memories that I have. As important as it is to be prepared for hot days, chilly nights and the occasional blast of pouring rain, it’s even more important to prepare to savor some special moments that you’ll always look back on and smile about. Most important of all, when you pull into Philmont for the first time and see the boots hanging from the sign, take a moment to recognize and appreciate how lucky you are. That’s a good habit to get into that will always serve you well.


Jim Darroch


  1. Jim Darroch
    April 10, 2014, 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Ed. Your story is a good reminder that Philmont really is a high adventure camp. The conditions are pretty rugged – even for teenagers who pride themselves on carrying the heaviest packs!

  2. Ed
    April 10, 2014, 10:07 am

    Philmont 1979. It wasn’t Bald but mount Phillips for me. We got some bad information on how long it would take to get to our next camp. Slept on the side of the mountain and the next morning we could see to the curve of the Earth in every direction. Other than that I did what you did. I don’t think I would be backpacking today if I hadn’t gone to Philmont then.

Comments are now closed on this post.