2017 Volunteer Vacation

Last year, the very first PSA Volunteer Vacation sold out within 2 hours of opening registration. Those lucky participants experienced a fantastic week in the backcountry, hard physical work, and the ultimate satisfaction of giving back to Philmont.

Your Philmont Staff Association and Philmont Scout Ranch are pleased to again offer this opportunity in 2017. The dates are September 16 to 23, 2017. The cost is still only $210. Registration opens March 1, 2017 at noon, Central Time. Registration deadline is August 15th, 2017. Please see the Registration and Cancellation Policies at the end of this article.

Carrying On in 2017

The work in 2017 will continue what was started last year. Volunteers will proceed with the construction of a new spur trail off the Sawmill and Thunder Ridge trail connecting the new Whistle Punk trail camp to the top of Cimarroncito Peak. Eventually this trail will go to Cypher’s Mine, providing a route through a seldom used part of Philmont. There has never been a trail to Cito Peak. Your work will be instrumental in making this happen.

The entire 2017 Volunteer Vacation program will be very similar to 2016’s, but only better, based on the feedback received from the first-year participants. If you missed the recent summary article in the December High Country magazine, you can read it here.

What did the 2016 participants have to say about Volunteer Vacation? “Extremely hard work!” “A very satisfying experience.” “Trail building at 10,000 feet was much more difficult and physically taxing than anticipated.” “Perhaps the best Philmont event ever.” “I hope to do it again next year.

This program is available to PSA members and their eligible family members. The minimum age is 16 years by date of participation. Trek-eligible family members include your spouse, child or stepchild, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law of the PSA member. Please do not register anyone who does not meet these requirements.

If females under the age of 21 years are registered, we will attempt to make accommodation for Youth Protection requirements. If we cannot meet Youth Protection requirements (having a female over 21 participate) we will return the entire registration fee.

The full Philmont medical form will be required – the same seven-page form required for Trekkers. Please note, just because your doctor certifies you, it does not mean this program is for you. Volunteer Vacation requires hard work, long hours, a good crew spirit, backpacking ability and a sense of humor. This program is not leisurely and is not for those who are afraid of sore muscles, getting dirty, and who cannot maintain a great attitude when the going gets tough. The PSA reserves the right to return the entire registration fee of any person who would be inappropriate for this program.

Volunteer Vacation Schedule

Saturday, September 16
Arrive at Philmont during the day. First meal will be dinner in the PTC Dining Hall. In the evening, the Conservation Department will begin the program with introductions and specific plans, gear and packing advice, and general Q&A.
Sunday, September 17
Breakfast at PTC and then depart for the drop-off point just above Sawmill. Next, a short hike to Whistle Punk trail camp, set up camp, and have lunch. Following lunch, you will receive Philmont tools and trail construction instruction, start trail construction work, and have fun.
Monday-Wednesday, September 18-20
Trail construction work (and more fun). There should be time to climb Cito Peak!
Thursday, September 21
Finish uncompleted trail construction work, break camp, clean-up the Whistle Punk campsite, and then hike to another campsite of the crew’s choosing to spend the night – rest and relaxation via traditional backpacking.
Friday, September 22
In the morning, hike to the pick-up point and return to Base Camp. You’ll have the option of climbing the Tooth of Time or just relaxing. Friday evening’s dinner will be a celebration of the week and recognition for what you have given back to Philmont. Participants will be awarded the coveted Volunteer Vacation patch.
Saturday, September 23
Depart Philmont after breakfast. Take a proud and satisfying look back at Cimarroncito Peak (and the Tooth, of course)!

Anticipated Questions

What will we eat?
Both trail food and large quantities of FRESH food to insure sufficient calories. This will be a much better menu than the standard trail food menu. Cooking, cleanup, and water crews will be established.
Will we need to carry a full back pack?
Yes & No. Philmont will pre-stage food, tools, and all crew equipment at Whistle Punk. However, the unused room in your pack will need to be filled with extra (and heavier) work clothes along with warm clothes (jackets, gloves, long underwear, headgear, etc). Extra gear can be shipped back to Base Camp after trail work is completed, but you will then be carrying traditional crew gear and food when hiking to your campsite on Thursday.
Will it be cold?
Probably. Whistle Punk is almost 10,000 feet, and by September 16th, Autumn will be setting in. You will need warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag.
Where is Whistle Punk?

Whistle Punk is located south, and uphill, of the trail from Sawmill to Thunder Ridge. There is a spring nearby. This camp was first used in 2016.

What does Whistle Punk mean?
A Whistle Punk is the lumberjack who operated the signal wire running to a donkey engine whistle. The camp was given this name because it is near an old logging camp.
What happens if twenty persons register before me?
We will put you on a wait list. We did have several cancellations last year.








Email us if you have further questions

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Registration Policy

  1. Available slots (see below) will be filled in the order that registrations are received.
  2. The preferred method of registration is electronic at http://www.philstaff.org/.
  3. The slots will be filled according to the date and time an electronic registration is received. If registering by mail, the date and time of receipt by the PSA office. If you call in your credit card information, the date and time of that call.
  4. Postmarks or dial-in registrations prior to the opening date and time (see below) will not be accepted.

2017 Volunteer Vacation registration opens at noon Central Time on March 1, 2017. 20 slots will be available upon opening.

Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the post registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline (date below) will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of 2018 or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

Registration deadline: August 15, 2017.

The 2017 PSA Summer Trek: Rangers Welcome

Hitting the trail in...








The PSA Trek is open to all PSA members and their eligible family members. It is your best opportunity to share first-hand with your family the experience you have talked about for years and let them meet the other persons who helped make that experience so special.

And, 2017 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Philmont Ranger Department. What better way is there to celebrate that milestone than by doing the PSA Trek! Rangers and non-Rangers are welcome – this is not a closed event.

The Trek dates are July 29–August 5, 2017, and the cost is $522 per person. There is a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee for each person registered (deadline: June 1, 2017), and the Trek follows the week-long PSA Reunion at the Training Center, July 23–29, 2017. CPR and Wilderness First Aid training will be available for Trekkers during the Reunion week. Watch the High Country and on-line newsletter for Reunion details, and consider doing both.

Discounted Reunion and Trek Bundle Pricing

  1. The week-long 2017 PSA Reunion (July 23—29) is before the trek and costs $540
  2. Register for both events and pay only $800! A $262 savings. Normally $1,062
  3. Register for the PSA Reunion on the Philmont Training Center website
  4. Once registered, contact the PSA Office for your discount coupon code
  5. Apply coupon to summer trek purchase

Dates and Schedule

The PSA Summer Trek is July 29—August 5, 2017.

  1. Spend the night of Friday, July 28 in the Philmont area
  2. Report to the Welcome Center at 8 AM on Saturday, July 29
  3. Hit the trail on Sunday, July 30
  4. Come off the trail on Friday, August 4
  5. Depart Philmont Saturday, August 5

Spending the night of July 28 in the Philmont area gives your crew more flexibility in designing an itinerary, and being at the Welcome center by 8 a.m. (and no later) on July 29 will allow your crew to get through the check-in process quickly and efficiently.

Cost and Eligibility

The cost is $522 per person. Eligibility requirements are as follows:
  • Be physically and mentally fit
  • Be a member of the PSA or Trek-eligible family member
  • Be a member of the BSA
  • Have a current completed Philmont medical form
  • Be 14 years old OR completed 8th grade and be at least 13 years of age prior to participation

Your doctor’s signature on your medical form is, by itself, not sufficient for Trek participation. Ask yourself: am I physically and mentally fit enough to work at Philmont? If the answer to this question is “no”, the Trek is probably not for you. If you are not physically and mentally fit, you will not enjoy the Trek and there will likely be negative impacts on your crew members, as well.

You are encouraged to bring your Trek-eligible family members. Trek-eligible family members include your spouse, child or stepchild, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law of PSA member who meets the eligibility requirements above.

You and your family members should share Philmont and Scouting values. This includes dressing appropriately for a Scouting environment and behaving in such manner which does not have a negative impact on the experience of your crewmates and others with whom they come into contact. The PSA Trek is not the appropriate place to work out family issues: the issues will not likely be resolved and may impact negatively on your crewmates.

As always, your crew will be free to design its own itinerary, subject to the PSA’s itinerary planning guidelines. By registering early, you can form your own crew or join the crew you want and be a part of the itinerary planning fun. A crew will consist of up to 12 persons and open spaces in crews will be available to any registrant until the crew is filled. If you have a group with which you want to Trek, get them to sign up early so there will be space for all of you in the same crew.

We have 60 Trekker slots to fill. With 2017 being the 60th Anniversary of the Ranger Department, we will have no trouble selling all the slots. Don’t sit there staring at your pack because your slot will be sold and you will be left in the dust of a Philmont bus as your friends head off to their starting points.

You can register by sending your check to the PSA, 17 Deer Run Road, Cimarron, NM 87714.

If you register by mail, please include a slip of paper with the names, ages and gender of your eligible family members. This helps identify Youth Protection and tenting issues early-on. Also, if you or your eligible family members have not done the PSA Trek in the past five years, please include a description of each person’s back-packing or other strenuous activity experience during the past five years. This will assist us in getting you crewed-up with persons of similar experience and ability.

If you register on-line, we will contact you for the information described above. Please respond promptly.

Questions about the PSA Summer Trek?

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Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the post registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline (date below) will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of 2018 or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

Annual Fund – One Vivid Memory

  • 2016 Annual Fund (final) 92.84%

Note: In the early 1980’s, Julie Huiras served as a PTC Group Leader, Services Manager, and News & Information Service Manager (the office now known as Marketing and Photo Service). From 1975-1981, Jason “Mort” Mascitti was a Ranger, Backcountry PC and CD, and NIS manager. They married in 1988 and live in Madison, WI. Their two sons, Evan and Marco, have known Colfax County since childhood and hiked Philmont at reunions and as Scouts. Marco was a Philmont Ranger in 2013 and Bear Researcher during these recent two summers. Two of their Golden Retrievers were named Cimarron and Springer.

Like many of you, I think about Philmont every day.

One vivid memory is of an early PSA summer reunion held at the Ranch. It was in August, after Gather. Dawn Chandler, then PSA Executive Director, arranged for participants to descend on Ponil Camp for a couple days of camping and day hiking, then wrap it up with the South Ponil Trout Restoration project. Families welcome. Though school would start the day after returning to Madison, our little foursome signed up.

Youngsters were happy crossing log bridges, playing in the unexpected hailstorm, climbing boulders, observing trout close up, and learning about smellables while hanging the bear bag (Jim Thomas heeded that anyone under two years-old could be a smellable). At the campfire, kids sang along since they already knew most of the PhilSongs.

Adults were happy too. There was catching up and trail talk, crisscrossing decades, and the river’s nighttime lullaby. It was Angela’s birthday (she of the Foster-Hadaway dynasty) and though Angela and Bear were happily married and expecting a baby, she quietly mentioned a childhood dream of a Run With the Wind serenade by Doc Walker and the Philly Boys. Done.

My family’s love of the people and the place inspires us to invest in its future. Whether you choose the $19.73 Club (named for the founding year of the PSA) or make a one-time donation in any amount, your gift allows the PSA to keep all of us connected to God’s Country.

…or call Dollie in the PSA Office at 575-376-1138.

Julie Huiras Mascitti, Longtime Avid PSA Life Member

Annual Fund – Near and Dear

  • 2016 Annual Fund (final) 92.84%

Philmont has been a part of my life since I was in the 5th grade in 1985. My grandparents took me and my siblings to the Training Center for a week. I hiked and camped and made so many friends. I am not sure if I truly knew it yet, but that summer a seed was planted in my heart! I returned in 1996 to be on staff. I worked at the Training Center as a Group Leader. Again, I hiked and camped and made so many friends. So many friends that are still near and dear to me today!

Philmont is life changing! To say this to a former staffer seems silly. But it is so very true! I support the PSA and give whenever possible. I feel great knowing that my funds help support Philmont Scout Ranch. The PSA also depends on these funds to continue operating and offering many opportunities to former staffers to return to Philmont through treks, reunions and service projects.

Would you consider donating to the PSA Annual Fund? With just two months to go, we are hoping to raise a much needed $87,000. If you have already given, thank you!

Please help us reach our goal. You can donate online…

…or you can call Dollie, the Executive Director of the PSA, at 575-376-1138 and tell her you are ready to donate and help the PSA and Philmont.

Thank you!

Amy Hall
Southern Regional Director

Annual Fund – Difficult to Truly Describe

  • 2016 Annual Fund (final) 92.84%

Give to the 2016 Annual Fund today.

wilson_picIt’s that time of year when we see the seasonal changes taking place all around us. We also have the opportunity to take some time and give thanks for all of the blessings and wonderful gifts of life, friends, and (of course) the joy of being a Phil-Staffer).

As we all know, we have been given so much through our experiences working in God’s Country. For me I love it when I get the opportunity to talk with fellow Phil-Staffers and anyone else about the wonder of Philmont and the love I have for it. At times I find it difficult to truly describe it and there are so many great memories and wonderful places scattered all around the ranch. Until someone has the chance to enjoy the cool mountain air (yes even in the heat of the summer it’s there for all), to see the wildlife frolic in the meadows (I’m talking about those ever loving mini bears), and to truly see history first hand, they just won’t get “that feeling” that we have all experienced. It’s a magical place for all of us.

As former staff members we know how special this place is and our hearts are touched whenever we take time to recall how our lives were changed. Mine was. And the lives of my family as well as my extended family have also been touched through the stories I have been able to share, as well as their own experiences coming to the Ranch. That is why I support the PSA and give of my time whenever possible. I’m truly trying to “pay-it-forward” and give back in whatever small way I can. It just feels good to stay involved and continue the traditions of Philmont Scout Ranch. Each of you as you read this short message needs to know that the PSA is dependent on your contributions in order to operate throughout the year and offer former staff opportunities to come back HOmE – Treks, reunions, service projects, and much more. No matter what you have to offer, it all is important and it truly helps us give back.

wilson2_picSo yes, I’m asking for your continued financial assistance. I won’t be subtle. We need your continued support. Won’t you join me and make your donation to the Annual Fund now? For those you have already given thank you! This year we need to raise $87,000 and with a little less than two months to go we are working hard to reach our goal. Please help us close the gap! You don’t know how much to give (I could say give until it hurts, but that’s not fair). Look at what Philmont has given you, and then give whatever you feel you can give. As a religious person I’m used to the concept of tithing — I like to tell people to look at giving a tithe (10%) of “whatever” knowing that it will be used to benefit the rising generation of leaders who get to experience the beauty and wonder of Philmont. Yes, it truly is God’s County.

…or call Dollie in the PSA Office at 575-376-1138.

Thank you and have a great rest of the year!


David A. Wilson, National Director – Philmont Staff Association