Day 1: Philmont Base Camp

The first official day of the trek is our last one spent in civilization: Philmont Base Camp, where there’s a cafeteria and hot showers. And canvas tents on concrete platforms with cots—a real treat, we’ll soon find out.

Christian and Charlie get comfortable.

A day in Base Camp is a whirlwind of tasks and activities.

We check in at the Welcome Center first thing this morning, and we’re immediately informed that there was a bear incident on the trail this week. A Scout had Gatorade in his tent, which attracted a bear that bit his leg. I manage an uncomfortable gulp as I’m listening.

“But, of course,” the smiling staff member says, “if you’re sure to follow bear procedures, there should be no problems on your trek.”

I gotta hear about these bear procedures.

Tent City: Enjoy its comforts while you can.

We then set up in Tent City and meet our ranger, Dylan Peerenboom, who will serve as our guide at Base Camp and accompany us the first two days on the trail.

Meet the Ranger: The unfailingly cheerful Dylan Peerenboom.

Our crew leader, Kevin, takes care of a lot of paperwork at different stations throughout Base Camp while Dylan talks to the crew. Dylan discusses our itinerary and what to expect, explains map reading and emergency procedures, takes us to our health check and crew gear and food pickup.

Dylan explains the finer points of staying safe—and alive.

And we can’t skip a trip to the Tooth of Time Trading Post, where we shop til we drop for last-minute equipment and souvenirs. Gotta have that Philmont toothpick holder.

Kevin maps out our trek in detail.

Meanwhile, Kevin meets with staff member Clyde Clark at Logistics, where they map out our trek and Kevin is given his “Life.” This is the form that crew leaders are in charge of. It lists the crew itinerary with each campsite, program activity and conservation project. The crew leader must carry it with him everywhere: To check in at each staffed camp, to get signed off after the conservation project, to pick up food on the trail. The form is called the crew leader’s “Life” because “it’s something you’d REALLY hate to lose, right?” a grinning Mr. Clark says to Kevin.

Mr. Clark explains Philmont’s Big Board, where staff carefully keep track of each and every crew on the trail.

After dinner, the crew attends the chapel service of their choice and the Welcome Campfire, in which the history of the Philmont area is acted out with a little song and dance.

The Protestant service has a spectacular backdrop, complete with grazing deer.

It’s been a whirlwind of a day. I’m already worn out, and we haven’t even hit the trail yet.

Comments about “Day 1: Philmont Base Camp”

  1. mrz.clark01 says:

    i went too that camp last year and have a good time

  2. yomama says:

    very cool!

  3. Chicken Lil says:

    I went to Philmont just this past summer and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I would go again in a heartbeat. I reccomend to anybody who is interested. Now that i look back i wish i had savored the moment but now I just have the memories and pictures. Philmont is amazing!

  4. Ranger says:

    Lancealot, some of the toughest Rangers are girls just to let you know.

  5. 720-O1 says:

    I remember seeing the eye poster in the office area. This is bringing back lots of memories, we did trek 27.

  6. Clark III says:

    Hey, this summer I was part of expedition number 626-N1. We did this exact same trek too! Philmont is the best thing i’ve ever done in boy scouts!…I’ve done NYLT, Climbed Mt. Washington, Order of the Arrow, White water rafting in Idaho, and a lot of other trips, but Philmont is by far the best experience yet. Its said to be awful, but its the best oppurtunity in BSA…do trek rocks!

  7. Daylen007 says:

    Really cool Paula. This is Kevin. I have just now started looking at this. For some reason I haven’t been able to find it. Can’t wait to see what the rest of it looks like.

  8. Shorty says:


  9. SkaterBoy69 says:

    Philmont looks so much fun!!!!

  10. Troop 79-member says:

    I miss Philmont, been there twice, once in 2006, and this 2008 summer. I really didn’t think it was as bad as it was played out to be. The food was high fiber and calorie so you have plenty of energy. I can’t believe that one man owned so much land and just gave it to the Boy Scouts of America! As they say at Philmont: “I WANT TO GO BACK TO PHILMONT!”

    Plan to work out there as a wrangler real soon!

  11. yo boy says:

    it was so fun we did lots of fun stof.

  12. Tomare! says:

    I don’t want to shower.

  13. Dipper says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this page and the Philmont Phraseology. I’m especially impressed with the “organization” of the base camp and the overall control of the treks.

  14. Chris says:

    Cool idea BL

  15. Lancealot says:

    I bet she will cry by day five.

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  • A bright and fresh Crew 807-G before the storms, bear scares and horrors of dehydrated trail food.

    Front row, left to right: Charlie Jordan, Christian Gouldy, Blake Kincaid. Back row, left to right: Editor Paula Murphey, Tonie Sanchez, Kendall Brush, Trevor Baggett, Assistant Scoutmaster Ken Forkner, Travis Forkner, Crew Leader Kevin Manning, Scoutmaster Ivy Brush.
  • The oldest of the BSA’s national high-adventure bases, Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, N.M., covers about 214 square miles of Rocky Mountain wilderness.

    Scouts, Venturers and adult advisors go to Philmont to backpack through its rugged terrain and enjoy its numerous program activities. Most action takes place in the summer, but several programs are offered in the off-season.

    Since 1939, more than 860,000 trekkers have experienced Philmont adventure.

    >> Click here to visit Philmont's website

  • Crew reviews of Philmont trail food:


    Jalapeño squeeze cheese and apple cinnamon oatmeal — Kevin

    Canned ham — Blake

    Almond butter with honey spread — Travis

    Oatmeal chewy bars — “It was the one trail food that I already knew!” — Kendall


    “The worst was the aftermath of the vegetarian chili.” — Blake

    “The macaroni and cheese was more like spaghetti in watery cheese soup.” — Tonie

    “The black beans and rice gave me heartburn. Mostly the trail meals were pretty good.” — Christian

  • Words and phrases you'll hear at Philmont:

    Bearmuda Triangle: The basic plan of bear safety procedures in each campsite. Three points of the triangle: dining fly—sump—bear bags.

    Minibears: Chipmunks and squirrels very skilled at running off with your trail food when you’re not looking (and even sometimes when you are).

    Oops Bag: The very last bear bag to go up before bedtime. It gives everybody a chance to check their pockets and the campsite one last time and be able to say, “Oops! I found another smellable!”

    Pilot to Bombardier: Like a Red Roof Inn, but without the roof—or any walls.

    Red Roof Inn: “Fancy” outhouses that have—you guessed it—red roofs.

    Squeeze Cheese: Very popular trail food, especially in jalapeño flavor.

    Staffed Camps: 34 camps where staff deliver program activities, such as horseback riding, mountain biking, rifle shooting, challenge events and panning for gold.

    Swap Box: A big box at each staffed camp where crews can trade uneaten (and gross) foods for better stuff. Most dumped: Gorp and beef jerky.

    Thorns, Roses and Buds: A nightly ritual in which each crew member tells about his or her “thorn” (worst thing) and “rose” (best thing) of the day and “bud” (goal for the rest of the trek).

    Trail Camps: 55 camps that do not include a staff or program activity. Your crew is on its own in the Great Outdoors.

    Yum-Yum Bag: The large Ziplock bag in which a crew stores all food waste, which is hauled up in the bear bags at night. Ideally, there’s not much to go into a yum-yum bag. If you open a package of food, you’re expected to eat it all. (Or get somebody else to finish it off for you. Usually every crew has a human garbage disposal or two.)