PSA Volunteer Vacation: The Trail to Cito Peak

by | Feb 1, 2016 | Gathering, Service Projects

By Lee Huckstep and Phil Winegardner

For years you have requested an opportunity to get out to the Philmont backcountry, get dirty, and give back to Philmont in a lasting, meaningful way.

Your request has been granted.

VolunteerVacationPatch_tree_smallYour Philmont Staff Association and Philmont Scout Ranch are excited to announce the PSA Volunteer Vacation. This is your long awaited opportunity to get out, get dirty, give back and have a lot of fun.
The PSA Volunteer Vacation will be an annual event of your PSA, and in 2016, will be limited to twenty lucky persons. In the first year, we will be building a new spur trail off the Sawmill and Thunder Ridge trail connecting the brand new Whistle Punk trail camp to the top of Cito Peak – where no trail has gone before. Eventually this trail will go to Cypher’s Mine, providing a route through a seldom used part of Philmont. When the first campers summit Cito Peak, and when they later go on to Cypher’s Mine, you will have the honor of having helped to make this happen.

In recognition of your efforts, you will receive a distinctive official Philmont issued award patch. Take a look at the High Country cover to see your reward. This will be one of the most difficult to acquire official Philmont issued patches.

The dates are September 17 to 24, 2016. The cost is $210. This includes a $25 non-refundable cancellation fee. (If you cancel, you get back $185).

The full Philmont medical form will be required – the same 7 page form required for Trekkers. Just because your doctor certifies you that does not mean this program is for you. This program involves hard work, long hours, a good crew spirit, backpacking ability and a sense of humor. This program is not going to be leisurely and is not for those who are afraid of sore muscles, getting dirty, and who cannot laugh 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.

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 PSA member who meets the eligibility requirements above. 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.

Volunteer Vacation Schedule

Saturday, September 17
…you will arrive at Philmont after lunch. You will meet in the dining hall at 5 PM have dinner, and then do a shakedown.
Sunday, September 18
…you will have breakfast in Base Camp and then depart for your drop-off point, Sawmill. You will then 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, September 19
…more trail construction work and fun.
Tuesday, September 20
…even more trail construction work and fun.
Wednesday, September 21
…even more trail construction work and fun. (The work gets easier after you get the hang of it.)
Thursday, September 22
…relief at last! You will tidy-up uncompleted trail construction work and clean-up the campsite, and then hike to another campsite of the crew’s choosing and spend the night.
Friday, September 23
…in the morning you will hike to the pick-up point and return to Base Camp. You will then have the option of climbing the Tooth of Time, and on Friday evening, you will enjoy a steak dinner and be recognized for what you have given back to Philmont.
Saturday, September 24
…depart Philmont, and when looking up towards Cito Peak, let your eyes mist over, and know that by your efforts, Cito Peak will soon be accessible to future generations of campers.

Anticipated Questions

What will we eat?
We will eat trail food supplemented by bulk food to insure sufficient calories. This will be a better menu than the standard trail food menu. The food will be prepared using the crew method.
Will we need to carry a full back pack?
No. You will carry a lighter pack. Philmont will pre-stage food, tools and crew equipment at Whistle Punk. The extra room in your pack can be filled with work clothes and warm clothes.
Will it be cold?
Probably. Whistle Punk is at 9,900 feet, and by the time of this event, 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 newly discovered spring at Whistle Punk. This camp will be 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.








* The twenty slots will be filled in the order that registrations are received. The preferred method of registration is electronic by using the “Register Now..” button near the top of this page. The slots will be filled according to the date and time an electronic registration is received or, if registering by mail, the date and time of receipt by the PSA office, or if you call in your credit card information, the date and time of that call. Postmarks earlier than March 1, 2016, or dial-in registrations prior to noon Central Time on March 1, 2016, will not be accepted.