Re: Philmont Trek Length
Scott Begin (sbegin@MCS.NET)
Tue, 7 Apr 1998 21:30:26 -0500
At 06:55 PM 4/6/98 -0500, golden cliff wrote:
>If Philmont shortened the treks to 9 days, 7 on the trail and 2 in base,
>then extended the season from 60 arrival dates to 70, it would be possible
>to increase Philmont opportunities to 31,500 campers. Possible dates
>could be June 8 to August 16 (currently June 11-Aug 9 for year 2000).
>Currently they allow 300 arrivals each day for a 12 day program. That
>puts the base camp population at 600 campers (300 arriving, 300
>departing), with a trail population of 3,000 campers, (300x10) during the
>height of the season.
>If they increased arrivals to 450 campers/day that would increase the
>base camp population to 900 (50% increase), while barely affecting the
>backcountry population, bringing it up to 3,150 campers (5% increase)
>because of the shortened trek duration (450x7).
>Of course that would require a major build-out at base, and increased
>number of rangers and starting camps.
>It would also mean less program opportunities on the trail and seeing
>less of the ranch on a 7 day trek as compared to the 10 day trek.
This is something that sounds good in theory.
As a Philmont Staff member, I recall speaking with a number of campers /
advisors who took the shortened treks available in August, most said when
they came back, they would rather take a full trek (10 nights on the trail,
2 nights in base).
One big complaint with short treks was that by the time you were
acclimated, you were back in base camp. In many cases, the crews just
wanted more time, as the shorter trek was not enough. With short treks,
especially when I worked in Logistics, I saw crews that wanted to cram 10
days worth of program into 5 nights on the trail, and as a result, they
wanted to stay ONLY at staffed camps.
One of the sole exceptions was a troop from somewhere in Texas that took a
5 night + 2 base camp trek because it allowed the adults to go without
taking more than a week of vacation (7 nights + 1 travel in each direction).
>But, it would also mean opportunities for an additional 13,500 campers/year.
>Current 12 day Program Proposed 9 day Program
>Arrivals/day... 300 campers Arrivals/day... 450 campers
>Base Camp...... 600 campers Base Camp...... 900 campers
>Trail..........3000 campers Trail..........3150 campers
>Arrival days....60 Arrival days....70
>Arrival Dates...Jun 11-Aug 9 Arrival dates...Jun 8-Aug 16
>Closing day.....Aug 21 Closing day.....Aug 25
>Total Campers...18,000 Total Campers...31,500
>Which would you rather see; 31,500 get a 9 day opportunity, or 18,000 get
>a 12 day opportunity with another 13,500 missing out entirely? That's the
>question you need to ask yourself.
The next question: Do you want to pay the same for your 9 day program as
you currently pay for the 12 day program????
The time in base camp is where campers demand the most staff time, starting
with the Ranger and following to all the other places you have to check in.
You are looking at a 50% increase in the number of campers arriving each
day, so you are going to hire MORE staff, more rangers, more services, more
logistics, more Registration, more trading post, more dining hall, etc...
There were times when we thought the lines at the Health Lodge / Logistics
/ Services were REALLY bad with 300 campers per day arriving.
When I was working at Philmont, Philmont was having problems recruiting
staff. Dave Bates, who was then program director, indicated that when the
economy was good, recruiting staff was hard, as they could make more money
elsewhere. If you need a significant increase in staff, you will need to
increase salaries to be able to attract qualified people. This further
drives up cost.
In addition, I'm sure that Staff also limits how far you can expand the
arrival dates. Most staff members are College students (with the
occasional School/College teacher who can get summers off), so the calendar
has to be set according to when you can get workers.
There are a lot of schools that start at the end of august, and staff need
time to get home and get back to school before classes start, spending time
with the family you haven't seen in 2 months is a bonus.
In June, the staff need time after they get out of school to get to
Philmont, plus there is between 7 days and 2 1/2 weeks of training before
campers arrive. If you move this date too far forward, you may loose staff
because they can't leave school soon enough (yes, there are colleges that
are in session through mid to late May).
In my situation, I had 4-5 weeks between final exams and when I needed to
be to Philmont (I spent this time getting back in shape). I had 1 week
between when I arrived home and when I needed to be back to school the
first year, 4 days the second, and 1 day the last year (I arrived at school
on Saturday with classes starting monday. I'm glad I didn't have to change
my class schedule at Drop and Add: campus joke, what's worse than a 3 day
hangover? 3 hours at Drop and Add. The registration system has improved
Even if you increase the staff, there are still infrastructure improvements
that are needed. Currently, there are plans to expand the dining hall,
with the Philmont Staff Association being asked to support this effort.
This has been on the drawing board since at least 1994 (the last year I was
out there), but building the new welcome center at Lover's road was a
higher priority project. The current dining hall was designed with a
capacity of 700-800 or so, yet in recent years, they have served over 1000
at some meals (camper load > 300 incoming / outgoing, mountain trek,
Rayado, Trail Crew, Cavalcade arrival / departure dates).
In addition to dining facilities, you would probably have to add at least
2-4 shower houses (currently there are 6, 3 in incoming camper Tent City, 3
in outgoing Camper Tent City) to be able to handle the additional campers,
would have to expand Services (more lockers, additional laundry facilities,
more space for checking equipment/food), and upgrade plumbing, electrical,
etc, facilities, that is, assuming that increase in camper load wouldn't
overtax the water supply, especially in dry years.
>Philmont started with the base camp located at Ponil, then moved to the
>present location. Base Camp has been enlarged with several additions over
>the years. The base camp that I first saw in 1970 doesn't even remotely
>resemble the present day one. We need to keep up with the needs of today.
Yes, I will agree that the facilities at PhilTurn (Ponil) couldn't have
handled the numbers that currently pass through base each summer, and I
know that base has been built to handle the expanding camper demand. I'm
sure that for their time, they were pretty large (a typical summer camp in
the 1930's had 50-80 boys at camp, today, 200 is norm)
However, improvements and additions to capacity take both time and money,
money to build it to currently building codes and have it still be able to
accommodate the needs, and time, to raise the money, as well as to make
sure it works correctly. Money for expansion projects, as far as I know,
doesn't come from camper fees, unless you would be willing to pay even
higher fees to attend.
For the past 10 years or so, capacity has been held steady, probably for
the longest time in Philmont history. I'm sure that the Philmont
Management would love to expand capacity, but they probably wouldn't be
able to expand fast enough to satisfy demand. From the rumblings I've
heard, they are trying their best to come up with a fairer, easier method
of distributing camping slots. I haven't heard much in details, but give
it a try and realize that it may take a couple of trys to get a fair system.
I WANT TO GO BACK TO PHILMONT!!!!!!
Scott A. Begin Philmont Ranger 1988-89, Logistics 1990
email@example.com Philmont Staff Association Member
Oak Forest, IL
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City