What does Philmont mean to me? Or more precisely what does the PSA mean to me? Sounds like an assignment from your 5th grade English teacher doesn’t it? When I think about just what the PSA means to me the first thing that comes to mind is family. Philmont is family. We obviously aren’t all related by birth or marriage, although some of us definitely are! A family is, in part, a group of people that support each other who have been through similar circumstances as the other members of the family. That fits the description of my Philmont family. Although I did meet the girl who would be my wife while we were both on staff in the mid 1980’s, and although we have had the pleasure of trekking with both of our children at Philmont, and seeing them grow to become fine staff members in their own right. It is the sense of the larger family of Philmont that captures me. The friends that you might not have seen for literally a decade or two and then you are suddenly reunited at a PSA Reunion, or those people who were on staff before or after your time who you now call friend. We all have something in common. That something is a love for a very special patch of land in the northeast corner of New Mexico that we have all had the privilege of calling HOmE for at least one glorious summer.
A very important part of family is the helping out of the whole group, the giving back if you will. That is one reason that I like the PSA so much. It gives me a way to give back to the place that gave so much to me. Without Philmont I, and I believe many of you also, wouldn’t be exactly who we are today. We laughed, we might have cried, we worked hard, we might have grumbled at the large crew load or the weather, we sweated and we basked in the hot summer sun. But in the end we all at some point during the summer when we talked to family and friends back where ever our “winter home” is said those immortal words, “And they’re paying me to do this!”
Do you remember what a feeling it was to take that first crew out on the trail as a first year Ranger and see how they grew and became a team by the time they came in off the trail? Do you remember how thrilling it was when the crew that worked so hard to get everyone through the COPE course finally succeeded and how excited they were that they had done so? How about the scout that didn’t think he or she could make it up to the top of Baldy, and when their crew made it to the top that was all they could talk about for the rest of the trek? Or do you remember as Basecamp staff those crews that hiked in off the Tooth of Time that last day on the trail and you could just tell they were walking a little taller and a little prouder for their accomplishment? I sure do, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to see that happen time and again. Each time it does, to those Scouters it is like they are the first people to ever set foot in Philmont’s rugged backcountry. Every time someone sees your staff belt buckle, or Philmont belt and gets that far away look in their eyes you remember why you love Philmont so much and are happy to share old stories.
As a member of the PSA I’m able to stay connected with those friends, many of whom I haven’t seen face to face in a very long time. I’m also able to give something back, pay it forward as it were. The PSA has grown into quite a vital part of the Philmont landscape over the years. We’ve been able to do some amazing things to help out those that have come after us. But those things all come at a cost. By donating to the Annual Fund we can keep those great things happening.
The Annual Fund helps us keep a full time PSA Executive Director, Randy Saunders, onsite year round to assist PSA members and the Board of Directors, and to serve as our collective face at the Ranch. The Annual Fund also helps to fund the numerous scholarships we give out each year as well as helping to offset the costs of printing High Country, running our PSA website, and the day-to-day operational costs of the PSA. A very simple way to do your part is to contribute through the 19.73 Club like my wife and I do. This allows us to simply have $19.73 automatically transferred from our checking or savings account to the PSA each month saving the hassle of making a yearly donation. If a single yearly donation fits your budget better that will work too. The nice thing is that you don’t need to donate thousands of dollars to the Annual Fund, although we sure do appreciate those donations.
Even a donation you might think would be small is greatly appreciated and put to good use. As an old Scoutmaster friend and fellow Philmont trekker of mine is fond of saying, “Many hands make light work”. If we all can pitch in just a little to help the common good we can keep the joy and sense of discovery of the place we call HOmE alive and vibrant for the next generation of Philmont adventurers.