Re: purpose of Philmont
golden cliff (c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 02:05:56 -0500
The purpose of Philmont, in the eyes of Waite Phillips, was to promote the
ideals of faith, self reliance, integrity, and freedom. At least that's
how the plaque reads at Philmont.
All high adventure programs should have equal purpose; those stated
above, and the goals of Scouting; citizenship, character, and fitness.
The specific activity; i.e. bicycling, backpacking, canoeing, horseback
riding, etc., are just that, activities. High Adventure should run a little
deeper than just a physical activity.
Our troop usually sponsors several high adventure activities each year.
They vary in scope dependent on the interests of the Scouts. It is the
PLC that decides what our program is to be, not me. I give advice,
provide information, and sometimes make proposals, but I do not vote, and
I do not interfere with the PLC's discussions.
I try to encourage them to look for certain things in the high adventures
they choose. It should involve a challenge, whether physical in nature
or technical in skill. It should provide adventure, that feeling of
excitement in embarking on some new experience not quite certain of what
the outcome might be. It should involve teamwork, a group working
together to accomplish something that a single individual would find very
difficult to attain.
We also look for a spiritual element; enjoying the bounty of nature in
whatever form we encounter it, and/or celebrating the product of human
endeavor, where others have used their gifts to enrich humanity. The world
is full of such places.
We try to promote leadership and creativity by involving the Scouts as
much as possible in the creation of the plan, the procurement of
equipment, physical training, technical skills development, itinerary and
logistics, even budget. It's their program.
During the high adventure I look for areas where individual Scouts can
experience some personal growth, where they can stretch their imaginations,
their courage, their physical committment, or their trust of others.
High adventure should build self confidence, strengthen social skills,
encourage self reliance, and foster cooperation. It should provide a
an escape from the rigorous routine of life so as to see it from a
different vantage point. It should provide a forum for introspection and
Of course there needs to be a large portion devoted to fun. The boys
usually find a way to work that into just about everything they do.
I just turned 44 years of age last week. For 26 of those years I've been
privilaged to serve the Scouts in my troop as an ASM (5 years) and
Scoutmaster (21 years). I've given over half my life to providing
opportunities for boys to swim and sail oceans, backpack and ride
horses across mountain ranges, bicycle endless highways, crawl through
caves, and paddle wilderness lakes and wild rivers. Those high adventures
have ranged from weekend programs to as long as a 6 week tour. These
programs have taken place all over the United States plus 16 foreign
But high adventure isn't just about activities, places, and programs, it's
mostly about the other things I've listed in the paragraphs above. It's
not about seeing the things around you as much as it is about seeing the
things within you.
I believe Philmont to be more about ideals than just hiking and
program activities. I don't believe finding those ideals is dependent on a
certain number of days.
Philmont provides us with an example of what Scouting can be. Thousands
of young people from all over the nation coming together to give of
themselves on the trails of Philmont. Sure they rack up plenty of hiking
miles and enjoy many excellent programs, but that's not what Philmont is
about. Those things are external, Philmont is internal.
More boys than ever are looking to Philmont for opportunity. More
boys than ever before in the history of the ranch are being turned away and
denied that opportunity. That is a very sad state of affairs.
You can find backpacking in other locations, you can find great programs
all over the country. That brotherhood of Scouting that exists at
Philmont is very unique to Philmont. Waite Phillips saw more than just
hiking trails and program opportunities, he saw a place where thousands
could come together and learn meaningful lessons while finding out about
themselves as they experience one of the greatest adventures of their
I believe that is what Philmont is really all about.
Shortening the treks won't destroy any of that. It will just make it
possible for more boys to come to know Philmont and learn the lessons of
YIS, Cliff Golden
Scoutmaster Troop 33/Advisor Post 333; DeKalb, Illinois
Three Fires Council BSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City