Long ago, the Indians (Native Americans) felt the strength and allure of the mountains, the clear, cold streams, the tall Ponderosa pines, and the clear skies of Sangre de Christo mountains. Later, Kit Carson, Lucien Maxwell, and other mountain men were captivated by the Philmont Country. A century later, the late Waite Phillips found himself under its spell and bought most of the land, which he later donated to the Boy Scouts of America. Nearly half a century ago, Phillips’ son, Elliott, and his cousins found it almost a necessity to regularly return to Philmont during their high school and college summer vacations.
Since Philmont’s first camping season in 1939, more than 860,000 Scouts, Explorers and their leaders have participated in the rugged challenge of its backpacking program. Philmont’s camping season is from mid-June to late August. Scouts and Explorers must be in top physical condition, at least 14 years of age by January 1 of the year in which they attend or have completed the eighth grade, and registered members of the Boy Scouts of America. Organized into crews of 7-12, including at least two adult leaders, participants hike Philmont’s mountains for ten full days, spending nights at various backcountry camps. At staffed camps, crews can participate in a variety of programs presented by Philmont backcountry staff. Among these programs are horseback riding, burro packing, gold panning, rock climbing, 30.06 rifle shooting, archaeology, mountain biking and interpretive programs such as homesteading and mountain man rendezvous.
In addition to regular expeditions, Philmont offers several special programs. These include Cavalcades (expeditions on horseback), Mountain Men and Mountain Women (a provisional 6-day experience for family members of Training Center participants), Rayado Treks, an extended expedition for Scouts and Explorers who have attained a high degree of backpacking skill and who are at least 15 years or ninth grade graduates, and not yet 21, and Trail Crew, a 28-day combination trail building and expedition.