Annual Fund: The Philmont Challenge

Philmont’s Impact on my Son’s Life…

I took my first trek to Philmont in 1958 at age 16 and it was hard and it was challenging and it was definitely (in hindsight) a character building experience, but I did learn quickly to love the mountains and I was proud as punch to have a Philmont Belt and buckle and Arrowhead Patch on returing to Savannah, GA (where we did not understand nor were we able to spell) “altitude.” I later returned for six summers on the staff in the early-to-middle 1960s.

Years later I had an Eagle Scout son on a trek with 6 youth and 3 adults from our troop in Springfield, VA. Jared was a good Scout but he was not particularly enamored with backpacking–it was hard, it took effort, it seemed to be on the low side of a “fun” activity. But, our trek Adviser, Mike Cavalero, was Jared’s OA Chapter Adviser and Mike’s son, Tony, was a buddy of Jared’s and they played lacrosse together in high school. So once Mike was announced as the leader with Tony going along, I got Jared to sign up. Early on, the first days of getting up at 5 AM, Jared was not a fan of Philmont. But as time went on, we had good experiences, we climbed Baldy and Phillips and had a full moon at Santa Claus on the 4th of July and the trek was good for all of us. We thought it was a moderate trek of about 75 miles but later discovered it was about 92 miles and had a lot of up and down action.

Fast forward to a more recent time and Jared decided to join the Army in 2010. He went off to Basic Combat Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO (and is currently serving in a unit doing intelligence work at Ft. Meade, MD). As he approached the end of Basic, he was allowed to have some short time on the phone once a week. When I knew he had just finished their last physical challenge (a 15 KM road march), I asked him, “how did it go?” He said, “Hey, I was at the front of the group the entire way–15 KM with a 30 pound pack was not nearly as challenging as hiking at Philmont!” So, I knew, was we all know, that the Philmont challenge is worth the effort for all our young people.

If you believe that, then perhaps you need to think about giving to the PSA Annual Fund to ensure that a lot more young people get the growth experience of acting like a mountain man in the New Mexico mountains.

Ken Davis
National Director

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Photo courtesy of West Point Public Affairs

Three Parts

When I got active in the PSA back about 2005, I was already a Life Member and figured board meetings would be my only expenses each year. But the more I got involved in the good work being done by the Association and the more I realized how much everyone was pitching in to make the PSA truly supportive of the Ranch and staff members, the clearer it became that I should be involved in the Annual Fund. What I have now chosen to do, which is the least painful for me, is to pick an amount I want to contribute and then divide that into three parts, which I can authorize the Executive Director to charge against a credit card for the last three months of the year.

Why not try something like that? The amount you can donate is up to you, but by spreading it over three months, it becomes manageable and not burdensome. If you do it early in the fall, then it will not bug you when you begin to look at the spending you want to do for the holiday season either. It works for me.

“Three Pears” image courtesy of Richard H. Hüttemann

Born at the Confluence

A History of the Philmont Staff Association

In the 1840s, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that the unique genius of Americans is their ability to form themselves into associations – associations that allow people to aggregate their resources and their talents for a common good.

The Philmont Staff Association is one such group. Formed in the 1970s, the PSA’s mission is to unite “the Philmont staff – past and present – for the purpose of serving the adventure, heritage and experience of Philmont Scout Ranch and the Boy Scouts of America.” Here in print for the first time is the story of the Philmont Staff Association, from its founding and early struggles to its recent successes.

A “confluence” – while it is certainly a place, and a very special place where the Rayado and Agua Fria creeks come together – it is also more than just a place. It is a coming together of many kinds. “Born At The Confluence” is the story of how people can come together to have significance and impact, but it is also – in microcosm – a glimpse into what makes Philmont, the Boy Scouts, and America itself great.

Ken Davis, a long-time Scouter and lover of Philmont, has a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. After active duty service in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, he continued his Army career as a reservist, rising to the rank of colonel before retiring in 1999. He also had a 30-year career as a civil servant, working for the National Archives and other government agencies. Davis has also written “The Brotherhood of Cheerful Service: The History of the Order of the Arrow” and “A History of Woodbadge in the United States.

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