This is a story about a gift, which naturally is a love story. And like all love it transfers itself from one person to another. You might think it started with Waite Phillips’ gift, and you would be right to think that. However, my story starts in 1975 before I knew of Mr. Phillips. Back then I was a teenager, always up for an adventure. Back then I didn’t know that I was being given this gift when our Explorer Post advisor, Bob Anderson (staff 1969, 70), signed us up for a Philmont Trek. It was an amazing time, and he encouraged me to return on staff. Which I did the following year. I had two wonderful summers. I got another gift many years later from another friend and former staffer, Wally Meyer (ranger 1978, 79). He sent me a PSA membership. I wasn’t sure what to do with this gift, and I kept it for many years without really opening it.
Fast forward to 2004 when I was able to dust off the gift and bring one of my 14 year old sons to Philmont on a trek. Oh, how I wanted to present the gift on a silver platter for him to enjoy. How I wanted him to feel the passion I had for this special place, but he was 14 and could not see it. Sure, he had a good time, but it didn’t nest in his heart as I had hoped. I was crushed. Two years later his twin brother came along on a PSA trek with me, and this time his eyes were opened to the wondrous beauty and adventure of the land. He told me then that he would be back on staff.
I was thrilled when both boys were hired on to work at the Ranch in 2009 and 2010. They finally understood and treasured what I (with the help of Mr. Phillips, Bob, and Wally) had given them.
When I think about what we in the PSA do, I think perhaps one of our goals is to dust off this gift so that many others can experience Philmont. Perhaps our goal is to clear the obstacles that might keep a participant from coming (as we do with our ROCS scholarships) or that might keep a staffer from returning (as we do with our staff scholarships). Or perhaps our goal is to remind ourselves how much we love this place and how we can share that love with our youth.
So in this season of love and giving please think about donating to the annual fund—a palpable gift—to keep this less tangible but vastly more important gift continuing.
Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo.