Re: Philmont Cavalcade
golden cliff (c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Wed, 19 Apr 1995 18:51:00 -0500
A Description of a Philmont Cavalcade
Philmont has two major programs, expeditions (backpacking) and cavalcades
(horseback). There are probably about 1,000 backpacking groups each
year, but only about 28 cavalcades groups. The cavalcade is 3 days shorter
than the backpacking program.
There are two areas they operate out of, south
country based at Cattle Headquarters, and north country based at Ponil.
Day 1 is similiar to backpacking trips, it is basically check-in
procedures at base camp. Day 2 is wrangler training either through
cattle headquarters or Ponil depending on your area. The next 5 days are
spent on a trail ride. It is exactly like the backpacking program except
you ride rather than walk, and have the additional chore of caring for
the horses. When you come into camp the horses are cared for and fed
first, then you set up camp and feed yourselves. Day 8 is by far the
best. It is the day of the Gymkhana.
The Gymkhana is an equestrian event where two cavalcade crews compete
against one another. Events such as pole bending, barrel racing, calf
herding, etc. The boys really love this part of the adventure.
While on the trail, Scouts participate in programs just like their
backpacking counterparts. Instead of a ranger for the first 3 days of
the stay, you are assigned two Philmont staff members who will be with
you your entire stay, a Horseman, and a Wrangler.
My troop is going to Philmont for the 11th time. Personally this is my
9th visit. Our first 7 trips were backpacking, our last 4 trips
including this summer have been cavalcades.
My rationale for doing cavalcades over backpacking is based on economics
rather than quality of program. Both programs are exceptional. I can
plan and carry out a backpacking program for my troop for half the cost
of Philmont. True, the quality of program is not as good, but the basic
experience of backpacking is still there. We have backpacked in some of
the most beautiful places in North America. I have the experience and
equipment to provide a backpacking program for my troop.
A horseback program is much more difficult to plan. We do not own
animals or tack, plus we lack the expertise to properly care for the
horses in the event of illness or injury. A commerically led guided
horseback trek is much more expensive than Philmont. I have never seen
lower prices than Philmont for a guided horseback trek.
I want every Scout to have the opportunity to experience Philmont and
enjoy the Philmont program. That's why we keep going back. Our unit can
offer an inexpensive backpacking program on our own, but we need Philmont
in order to offer an affordable horseback program.
There is a lottery system in place for cavalcades. There are 7 dates
available each summer, with 2 cavalcades groups in the north, and two
more in the south riding during each session. That adds up to only 28 crews
per season. Minimum size for a crew is 10 members and maximum is 15,
Scouts and leaders combined. Cavalcade fee is $350.
With transportation and meals we are charging $500/Scout this year. We
may have a few openings come up. Our Philmont dates are August 13-21,
1995. We leave Illinois on the 12th and return the 22nd traveling via
Our last cavalcade was in 1990, a troop is not eligible to go two years
in a row. We started in the lottery for summer 1992, it can take years to
get a trip. I feel fortunate to have one in 1995.
YIS, Cliff Golden
Scoutmaster Troop 33
P.S. They have a weigth limit on riders of 200 pounds.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City