Back to Philmont Training Center

Getting to Philmont has been on my “must do” list since early on in my adult Scouting life.  From the Boy Scout side I would hear all of these great stories about 10-day treks and being out in the back country and high-adventure activities.  I would think, “Where was all of this when I was in Scouts?”  Then on the leader side I would hear about these wonderful training classes covering all sorts of Scouting topics and how it’s such a great experience to take these classes.  A number of folks in the district proudly display their leather Philmont belts and large belt buckles.  All of this added to the allure.  But I really didn’t know much about what exactly was offered there or what the experience would be like.  Besides, my Wolf Cub wasn’t going to be old enough to go for a few more years.  I tucked away the idea and moved it a little lower on the list.

Fast forward to earlier this year when I was asked to take on the role of Day Camp Director for Arapahoe District.  Besides allowing me to put my best management and organizational skills to the test by heading up one of the larger day camps in the Denver Area Council, it came with the opportunity to attend National Camping School at Philmont Training Center.  It would not be honest of me to say that this had absolutely no bearing on my decision to accept the position.  Of course it did.  Getting to attend Philmont?  And on the Council’s dime?  Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?

So I attended Camp School (although that experience will have to be left for a later post).  Toward the end of the course we were show a promotional video for the training center that highlighted all of the different activities that the ranch offers for Summer Conference participants and their families.  It looked like there was so much to do.  When I got back home I began researching the courses for this summer to see if it made sense to come for a conference this year.

What I found is that the Summer Conference series is really geared toward a family experience.  While the I attended class, my wife and kids would get to explore Philmont and take part in lots of fun activities.  My Wolf Cub would get to enjoy things like hiking, archery, pony rides, air rifle shooting and crafts.  Even my 5 year old would get to ride ponies and do crafts.  And my wife would tour Villa Philamonte and local museums, see pottery making demonstrations, take nature hikes and, of course, go shopping.  You eat all of your meals together and there are activities for the family each evening.  Also, Wednesday is a free day, to spend exploring the surroundings together.  All this and you get to sleep in tents with heaters and electricity.  What part of that doesn’t sound like an awesome time?

I am fortunate that my employer offers, as part of my benefit package, some personal development money to use for training.  The only requirement is that it must be relevant and applicable to my current or a future position.  As I researched the many offerings, I found several that I would love to take but that are very Scouting-specific (e.g. “Putting PIZZAZZ into Cub Scouting”, “Scouting in the Catholic Church”).  However, a few have a more general application.  I chose “Teaching Ethical Decisions – Coaching/Mentoring.”  It is a new course and falls right in line with a new Leadership Academy program my employer is launching in the fall.

Initially there was a little push back from my employer.  The senior staff member that had to sign off on my request wanted to make sure this course was going to add value to my position.  She has a Scout who is working on his Eagle and is planning to attend Philmont on a trek next summer.  She wasn’t aware, much as I wasn’t when I first started my research, that there was this whole other part for training.  Needless to say, it didn’t take much explaining to get it approved.

So it’s back to Philmont this summer, this time with the family in tow for what should prove to be a very enjoyable trip.  We will be there the last full week of July.  I promise to post back about the experience.  I’m sure it will be a summer the family will not soon forget.



More information about Philmont Training Center can be found here:


~ by Michael Forner on April 15, 2011.

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