If there is an icon in Scouting who personifies the movement’s aspiration to build the most physically fit, principled leaders in the next generation of Americans, it is the legendary Philmont Ranger. These remarkable young men (and since 1972, young women) “live the dream” in the mountains of New Mexico, and anyone who has been to the ranch knows one when he sees one:
“Sticking out of the hip pocket would be a folded Philmont map, its layers pressed into a sweaty, body-molded state. The ranger hiked in well-made ankle-top boots, well broken, over double layers of sweat socks. He soon wore a tawny, sun-baked look and an unstyled head of hair. He walked with a long, muscled gait that was conditioned from mountain miles under a backpack. But he never looked so much like a ranger as when he was marinated in a film of sweat and soot and trail dust. That was a ranger.”
In August of 2007, hundreds of former Philmont Rangers converged on the Ranch for a rendezvous celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ranger Department. Stories of the people, the place, and the program that make Philmont so special tumbled over themselves faster than any one person could record them all. So, the Philmont Staff Association, determined that someone needed to do so, persuaded Warren Smith, himself a former Ranger, a published author, and currently publisher of World magazine, to pull it all together.
The result is a wonderful book entitled “I Wanna Go Back: Stories of the Philmont Rangers”. It is a captivating read – part history, part Philmont legends, part “coming of age” story, and a large part of the exuberance of youthful idealism played out in the “purple mountains and azure skies” of Philmont Scout Ranch. It is the quintessential “Philmont book” and an absorbing read which reaffirms all that is best in Scouting. Even those who have never set foot on Philmont will find it impossible to put down.