Gene Schnell has served 29 summers on the Philmont seasonal staff, and will be back again this year. He serves as the Dean of Students, teaches history and coaches men’s track at Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis.
Gene began his Philmont career as the Director of the Philmont Training Center (the last volunteer to hold hat post) and later served multiple years as Director of Headquarters Services. He is best known, however, for his nearly two decades of service as a Backcountry Manager and his current role in Backcountry Support. In those roles, the legendary “Unit 41” directly inspired several generations of backcountry staff and is revered by current staff for his ability to hike far younger staffers into the dirt, his insistence on quality in program and service to Philmont participants, and his unceasing work ethic. Gene is regarded by Philmont management as the de facto quality improvement director for the backcountry operation.
A long-time member of the national Order of the Arrow Committee, Gene has also been instrumental in the creation, development, and continued success of the OA Trail Crew Trek program at Philmont. For more than 15 years, he has served as staff advisor for the program and has really been the primary “shaper” of the program and its objectives. Gene is a recipient of the Order of the Arrow’s Distinguished Service Award.