2019 Volunteer Vacation

2019 Volunteer Vacation

The Trail to Cito peak—Year 4

We didn’t make it to Cito Peak last September. Instead the Vacation Volunteers were redirected to a rush project – co-working with the Conservation Staff to punch through 3,300 feet of new trail to provide 2019 crews with more than one route into and out of Sawmill. Mission accomplished!

Barring any new unforeseen priorities, the 2019 Volunteer Vacation will return to work on the Cito Peak Trail.

The Philmont Staff Association and Philmont Scout Ranch are pleased to again offer this opportunity in 2019. This will be the 4th year for the very exciting and tremendously rewarding Volunteer Vacation. Past participants have experienced a fantastic week in the backcountry, hard physical work, and the ultimate satisfaction of giving back to Philmont.

The dates are September 14 to 21, 2019. The cost is only $225. Registration opens March 1, 2019 at noon, Mountain Time. Registration deadline is August 15th, 2019. Please see Registration, Payments, and Refunds at the end of this article.

Carrying On in 2019

The Volunteer Vacation in 2019 will continue with the construction of a new spur trail to the top of Cimarroncito Peak. Workers will push closer to the summit. This spur trail connects to the new Cyphers Mine / Thunder Ridge Trail, recently constructed in the area. These trails are helping to open a seldom used part of Philmont essential in the aftermath of the 2018 fire. There has never been a trail to Cito Peak. Your work will be instrumental in making this happen.

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 the PSA member. 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.

The full Philmont medical form is required – the same 7 page form required for summer Trekkers. Please note, just because your doctor certifies you, it does not mean this program is for you. Volunteer Vacation requires hard work, long hours, a good crew spirit, backpacking ability and a sense of humor. This program is not leisurely and is not for those who are afraid of sore muscles, getting dirty, and who cannot maintain a great attitude 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.

Here’s the tentative schedule for the 2019 PSA Volunteer Vacation. Please note, this entire schedule could change dramatically based on Philmont’s needs. We’ll keep everyone informed as the year progresses.

Volunteer Vacation Schedule

Saturday, September 14

Arrive at Philmont during the day. First meal will be dinner in the PTC Dining Hall. In the evening, the Conservation Department will begin the program with introductions and specific plans, gear and packing advice, and general Q&A.

Sunday, September 15

Breakfast at PTC and then depart for the drop-off point just above Sawmill. Next, a short 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-Wednesday, September 16-18

Trail construction work (and more fun). There should be time to climb Cito Peak!

Thursday, September 19

Final wrap-up of trail construction work, break camp, clean up the Whistle Punk campsite, and then hike or ride to another campsite. The final campsite will depend on the number of participants, availability of transportation vehicles, weather, etc. Volunteers will spend the night at this new location, relaxing and enjoying traditional Philmont camping.

Friday, September 20

In the morning, possible side-hikes based on the location. By midday or early afternoon, Volunteers will be transported back to Base Camp. Friday evening’s dinner will be a celebration of the week and recognition for what you have given back to Philmont. Participants will be awarded the coveted Volunteer Vacation patch.

Saturday, September 21

Depart Philmont after breakfast. Take a proud and satisfying look back at Cimarroncito Peak (and the Tooth, of course)!

Common Questions and Answers

What’s it like?

Download the detailed High Country article from 2016 providing a full explanation of everything that takes place.

What will we eat?

Both trail food and large quantities of FRESH food to insure sufficient calories. This will be a much better menu than the standard trail food menu. Cooking, cleanup, and water crews will be established.

Will we need to carry a full back pack?

Yes and no.

Philmont will pre-stage food, tools, and all crew equipment at Whistle Punk. However, the unused room in your pack will need to be filled with extra (and heavier) work clothes along with warm clothes (jackets, gloves, long underwear, headgear, etc). Extra gear can be shipped back to Base Camp after trail work is completed, but you will then be carrying traditional crew gear and food when hiking to your campsite on Thursday.

Philmont backpacks are available at no charge if needed.

Do we need a tent?


You will be sleeping in normal backpacking tents for 5 of your 7 nights at Philmont. You can bring your own tent or use the standard issue Philmont Thunder Ridge 2-person tent (no charge). Tent pairings and partners will be discussed as the participant list is completed.

Will it be cold?


Whistle Punk is almost 10,032 feet, and by September 15th, 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 spring nearby. This camp was 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.

How many people can sign up?

Philmont would like to work with a group of 24 to 30 volunteers. If we exceed that number, a wait list will be established.

Email us if you have further questions

7 + 7 =

PSA Registration; Philmont Payment and Refunds

  1. Register here on the PSA website, but…
  2. Payment is made directly to Philmont, not the PSA (address below)
  3. Philmont accepts checks only, no credit cards or PayPal
  4. Make check payable to: “Philmont Scout Ranch”
  5. In the memo, please write: "719-PSA 2020", "PSA Autumn Adventure", “PSA Volunteer Vacation”, "PSA Cavalcade", "PSA PhilBreak", or whatever your event name is.
  6. Philmont’s refund policy: ALL FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE. THEY CANNOT BE APPLIED TO FUTURE PSA TREKS OR EVENTS. Emergency situations will be handled by Philmont (not the PSA) on an individual basis.

Send check to this address:
Philmont Scout Ranch
17 Deer Run Road
Cimarron, NM 87714

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

2020 Volunteer Vacation registration opens at noon Mountain Time on March 1, 2020. 30 slots will be available upon opening.

Registration deadline: August 15, 2020.

2019 PSA Summer Trek: We’re Back!

2019 PSA Summer Trek: We’re Back!

Hitting the trail in...








Oh, how it hurt to hear the announcement that all 2018 treks were canceled. 67 PSA Trekkers had formed their crews and formulated their custom itineraries. Everyone was ready to go. It hurt even more to hear about and see the fire damage. But everyone understood. Philmont would survive and be better. Campers would return and so would the PSA treks. And now… We’re back!

2019 promises to be a full and busy summer for Philmont. The Ranch has done everything possible to allow canceled Scout crews from 2018 to trek in 2019. Record numbers are expected. More than generous, Philmont is allowing 60 spots for PSA Trekkers in 2019!

Start planning now!

Registration opens at noon (Mountain) on January 1st, 2019.

Registration and Cost

The trek dates are July 27th to August 4th, 2019, and the cost is $590 per person. Starting in 2019, trek fees are paid directly to Philmont. There are no refunds except for emergency situations that must be approved by Philmont on an individual basis. Please see full details at the bottom of this article.

Space will be very limited this year since the canceled 2018 PSA Trekkers were given first chance at securing a slot for 2019. They had until December 31st, 2018 to sign-up before registration opens to all PSA members on January 1st.

The PSA Trek is open to all PSA members and their eligible family members. Share first-hand with your loved ones the experience you have talked about for years and let them meet the other people who helped make those memories so special. Reunite with past staff friends during your custom designed trek.

Please note: You must be a PSA member or an eligible family member (defined below). Your friends or simply friends of Philmont are not allowed on the PSA Summer Trek.

PSA Reunion

The annual PSA Reunion will be held Friday, July 26th thru Sunday morning, July 28th. This, of course, is the weekend when the trek begins. Trekkers will be able to arrive a day early on Friday and participate in all the Reunion activities during the weekend. Complete registration information and the extra cost for housing and meals will be provided in the Reunion announcement.


The trek dates are July 27th to August 4th, 2019.

The 2019 trek schedule is as follows:

  • Optional – Arrive on Friday, July 26 for the PSA Reunion (extra cost)
  • Spend the night of Saturday, July 27 in the Philmont area (PTC or town)
  • Report to the Welcome Center at 8AM on Sunday, July 28
  • Hit the trail on Monday, July 29
  • Come off the trail on Saturday, August 3
  • Depart Philmont Sunday, August 4

Lodging for the nights of July 27th and 28th will be in tents at the PTC. The first Philmont provided meal will be dinner on the 27th at the PTC Dining Hall. The last Philmont meal will be breakfast on August 5th.

Eligibility and Fitness

The Trek eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Be physically and mentally fit
  • Be a member of the PSA or a Trek-eligible family member
  • Be a member of the BSA
  • Have a current completed Philmont medical form
  • Be 14 years old OR completed 8th grade and be at least 13 years of age prior to participation

Your doctor’s signature on your medical form, by itself, is not sufficient for Trek participation. Ask yourself several questions. Am I really ready to trek at Philmont? Am I really in shape? Am I really ready to work and be a team crew member? You’re not 21 years old anymore. If you are not physically and mentally fit and willing to be a team player, you will not enjoy the Trek. There will be negative impacts on your crew members, as well. Please take a moment and read this article: Are You Really Ready To Trek?

You are encouraged to bring your Trek-eligible family members. 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.

You and your family members should share Philmont and Scouting values. This includes dressing appropriately for a Scouting environment and behaving in such manner which does not have a negative impact on the experience of your crewmates and others with whom they come into contact. The PSA Trek is not the appropriate place to work out family issues: the issues will not likely be resolved and may impact negatively on your crewmates.

If this is the first trek for your family member, you should conduct shake-down overnight hikes at home before your trek – just like a regular Scout crew. Don’t delay and burden your other crew members as you teach basic camping skills.

Itinerary Planning

As always, your crew will be free to design its own itinerary, subject to Philmont’s itinerary planning guidelines. By registering early, you can form your own crew or join the crew you want and be a part of the itinerary planning fun. A crew will consist of up to 12 persons and open spaces in crews will be available to any registrant until the crew is filled. If you have a group with which you want to trek, get them to sign up early so there will be space for all of you in the same crew.

Space and Payment

There are 60 Trekker slots – approximately 5 crews. Sign up ASAP and begin the crew and itinerary planning process now.
Register on-line, beginning January 1st, by clicking here (available 1/1).

If you register for multiple spots (you + family member(s)), please be sure to includes the names, ages, and their relationship to you in the Notes section of the check-out screen.

Questions about the PSA Summer Trek?

14 + 14 =

Registration Deadline

June 15, 2019

Payments and Refunds

  • Register at the PSA website, but…
  • Payment is now made directly to Philmont (not the PSA)
  • Philmont accepts check only, no credit cards or PayPal
  • Make check payable to: “Philmont Scout Ranch”
  • In the memo, please write: “728-PSA 2019”
  • After completing your order, send checks to: Philmont Scout Ranch, 17 Deer Run Road, Cimarron, NM 87714
  • Philmont’s refund policy: ALL FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE. THEY CANNOT BE APPLIED TO FUTURE PSA TREKS OR EVENTS. Emergency situations will be handled by Philmont on an individual basis.

2019 PSA PhilBreak

2019 PSA PhilBreak

2019 PhilBreak begins in...








Your Chance to Help Philmont after the Ute Park Fire

Even before the devastating Ute Park Fire was finally extinguished, PSA members began asking how they could help. Many contributed to the Fire Recovery Fund, but others wanted to provide hands-on assistance. They wanted to be on-site and help heal the land they love.

Philmont and the PSA are excited to offer PhilBreak 2019. This event will consist of a full week’s work restoring Philmont’s burned and unburned forests. Actual work will include slope stabilization projects, such as log erosion barrier and wattle installation, re-vegetation and forest thinning. By March 2019, the Conservation Department will have the exact details and locations ready to go. These are heavily dependent on the weather and road conditions. Only 30 slots will be open to registration.


The dates are March 2–9, 2019. The cost is only $210. Registration opens online December 5th, 2018 at noon, Mountain Time. The registration deadline is February 15th, 2019. Please see the Registration and Cancellation Policies at the end of this article. Lodging for the entire week will be roofed housing at the PTC. Participants will be transported to the worksite every day. Breakfast and dinner will be at the PTC dining hall with trail lunches provided at the worksite.

Who Can Attend?

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 the PSA member. Please do not register anyone who does not meet these requirements.


Participants are required to be registered with the BSA. The full Philmont medical form with your doctor’s approval is required. Please note, just because your doctor certifies you, it does not mean this program is for you. This PhilBreak program will require hard work, long hours, good crew spirit, and a sense of humor. This program is not leisurely. The PSA reserves the right to return the entire registration fee of any person who would be inappropriate for this program.

Tentative Schedule

  • Saturday, March 2: Arrive at Philmont during the day. You must arrive by 5 PM MST. No late arrivals will be allowed. If you cannot arrive by 5PM, then you should plan on arriving on Friday, March 1st and stay in Cimarron, Taos, Raton, etc. The first Philmont provided meal will be dinner in the PTC Dining Hall. In the evening, the Conservation Department will begin the program with introductions and specific plans, gear info, advice, and general Q&A.
  • Sunday, March 3: Medical recheck, finalize plans, and eventual transport to the fire area / worksite to begin work. Approximately one-half day’s work. Breakfast and dinner at the PTC. Trail lunch in the field.
  • Monday, March 4 through Friday, March 8: Daily transport to the fire area / worksite (A shorter work-day on Friday). Breakfast and dinner at the PTC. Trail lunch in the field.
  • Friday evening, March 8: Recognition dinner and final gathering.
  • Saturday, March 9: Depart Philmont after breakfast.

Questions and Answers

  1. Are we camping? No. We will spend all nights at the PTC and stay in roofed housing. You will share rooms with other Phil-breakers. We will be transported daily to the worksite.
  2. Do we need a pack? Yes – a good-sized day pack or small weekend pack. Every day you will be driven to the worksite, but you’ll need to carry a trail lunch, lots of water (4-6 liters), rain gear, extra warm clothing (think layers), camera, etc.
  3. Will it be cold? Probably. This is the Backcountry in early March at 8,000 – 9,000 feet. Plan on layers for your clothing.
  4. Where will we be working? In the Backcountry burn area. It’s too early right now for the Conservation to pinpoint exactly where we’ll be working.
  5. Are there multiple PhilBreak sessions? There is only one (1) PSA PhilBreak session this year. There will be three (3) OA PhilBreak sessions later in March.
  6. Can a spouse or other family member hang out at the PTC while I work every day? No.
  7. Can I arrive later in the week and still participate? No
  8. What happens if 30 people register before me? We will put you on a wait list. Cancellations are inevitable.

For Further Questions

Phil Winegardner at [email protected]
Dollie O’Neill at [email protected] or 575-376-1138

Registration Policy

  • 30 slots will be filled in the order that registrations are received.
  • The preferred method of registration is electronic at https://www.philstaff.org/2018/12/2019-philbreak/
  • The slots will be filled according to the date and time an electronic registration is received. If registering by mail, the date and time of receipt by the PSA office. If you call in your registration, the date and time of that call.
  • Postmarks earlier than December 5, 2018, or dial-in registrations prior to noon Central Time on December 5, 2018, will not be accepted.

Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the posted registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of the year following the scheduled event or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

Cancellation date: Friday, February 15, 2019.

2018 Philmont Wrangler Reunion

2018 Philmont Wrangler Reunion

Saturday, October 6th in Amarillo!

Former Philmont Wranglers are hosting a Philmont Wrangler Reunion on October 6, 2018. Guest of Honor: Ben Vargas, Rod Taylor, Bob Ricklefs, and Chuck Enloe. This reunion will be a “Once in a Lifetime” event!

Make plans now to attend. Any questions and R.S.V.P. by email to John Alexander at [email protected] or [email protected].

The gathering will be held in Amarillo, Texas, at the American Quarter Horse Association Museum Grand Hall at 2601 I-40 East, Amarillo. Event time 10am-9:30pm.

Attendees are encouraged to bring pictures and memorabilia from the ranch. Highlights of the reunion will be a ceremony to recognize the guests of honor and musical entertainment by Tish Hinojosa!

Hotel Block Information: Comfort Inn and Suites, 2101 E interstate 40, Amarillo. Call to reserve at 806-331-7829.

R.W. Hampton: 2018 Distinguished Staff Alumni Award Recipient



r w hamptonCimarron, N.Mex. – R.W. Hampton, nationally recognized Western singer, songwriter and entertainer, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Philmont Staff Association’s Distinguished Staff Alumni Award. Hampton, of Miami, NM, will receive the award and serve as the keynote speaker at the opening assembly for Philmont’s 1100 seasonal staff members on the evening of May 29 at Philmont.

Hampton, a 2011 inductee into the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame, was named by American Cowboy magazine in 2013 as one of the “50 Greatest Country & Western Singers,” alongside performers like George Strait, Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Gene Autry. He’s a four-time recipient of the Academy of Western Artists’ Male Vocalist of the Year award and the 2009 recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the American Cowboy Culture Association.

Hampton got his performing start playing the guitar and singing at cowboy campfires at Philmont Scout Ranch, where he worked as a wrangler in backcountry camps during the summers from 1974 through 1976. He went on to work as a cowboy on ranches all over the West, in New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, but all the while continued his singing and songwriting. In 1988, he made the career leap to full-time entertaining, and has earned “a wagonload of awards” for his work since then.

Thirteen albums, including a Christmas collection and two gospel albums, bear his name. Austin to Boston, released in 2010, ranked as the number one most played western album in 2011. A 2008 album, Oklahoma . . . Where the West Remains, recorded with the Enid Symphony Orchestra, earned Traditional Western Album of the Year awards from both the Western Music Association and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Hampton’s resume’ includes performances at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Hampton’s entertaining skills aren’t confined to singing and songwriting. R.W. has also appeared in more than a dozen movies alongside Western stars like Kenny Rogers, Ben Johnson, Richard Farnsworth and Kris Kristofferson, playing characters ranging from a quintessential frontier marshal to a hand known only as “Scar.” He also stars in a critically acclaimed one-man stage play, The Last Cowboy – His Journey, in which he plays an aging cowboy in 2025 recounting the history of the American cowboy through monologue and song.

The Distinguished Staff Alumni Award (DSAA) is presented annually by the Philmont Staff Association (PSA) to recognize “distinguished or exceptional personal success or achievement on a national or international level by a current or former Philmont staff member, in any field of human endeavor, that brings honor and credit to the legacy of the Philmont staff.”

Hampton is the seventh recipient of this award. Previous recipients include Wally Berg, internationally known mountaineer and explorer; the late Steve Fossett, world record aviator and adventurer, and Rick Searfoss, former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander.

The Philmont Staff Association is the alumni organization for current and former members of the staff of Philmont Scout Ranch, the Boy Scouts of America’s national high adventure backpacking base in northern New Mexico and largest private camp in the world.

For more information, contact:
Mark Stinnett, PSA Awards & Recognition Chair, 719-244-3560, [email protected]
Dollie O’Neill, PSA Executive Director, 575-376-1138, [email protected]