I just saw this string of posts and saw "Philmont" and that immediately caught my eye. Some of the comments in some of the posts did not ring with my own eighties era Philmont experiences, however.
I was a camper at Philmont...I did the old one month long "Trail Crew" program followed within two days by the famous Philmont "Rayado Trek" back in 85' at age 16. Man that was a great experience. Absolutely the best backpacking experience. I know they still have the Rayado Trek program...that is Philmont's flagship or NOLS-like program. The Trail Crew program, I have sort of lost touch with what goes on at Philmont and I'm not sure if that program still exists. I never went to Philmont as a "regular" camper, with a council contingent.
The following summer, in 86' I returned to work in base camp before I had even graduated from high school. I was formally accepted to be a Philmont Ranger for the summer season of 91, but canceled my Phil-contract at the very last moment (I curse myself to this day for cancelling that Ranger contract).
I am no longer in the Boy Scout organisation and havent been to Philmont since 86, so I havent kept up with all the changes that have occurred.
Anyway, I read here that Philmont doesnt allow tarps anymore? When I was on both Trail crew and Rayado Trek, we took nylon tarps to cut the weight down so we could go "lighter and faster" way back in the mid eighties. On my days off during the summer of 86, I mostly went backpacking for three days at a time and NEVER took a tent...only a tarp. Sometimes I would go to Taos on days off, but mostly went backpacking and logged 20-30 mile days.
I remember once, on one of those three days off in 86, this other base camp guy and myself did that "Ranger marathon." Fifty miles in one day...from the north end of Philmont all the way to the South end. We went "ultra-lite" for that and basically jogged or walked super fast for the entire 50 miles, constantly eating and drinking water. We could have gone on for another 10 or 20 miles if we had had to, thats how good of shape I was back then at age 16-18.
Now, if I even attempted that, Id probably have a heart attack. LOL
I remember on my Rayado Trek (dont worry I wont divulge any Rayado secrets), I spent one night all by myself in bear country, under an Army poncho I had strung up as a tarp shelter.
For Rayado Trek, I had to sign a waiver releasing Philmont from any responsibility and the program was openly admitted to be "very strenuous and even potentially dangerous."
We were doing "ultra-light" at Philmont way back in 85!
Maybe regular campers werent allowed to use tarps, but I know on the Rayado Trek and during the ten day backpacking section of the Trail Crew program, we were TOLD we would be carrying nylon tarps, supplemented of course by the now all but defunct simple Army poncho.
As far as bear attacks at Philmont when I was there in 85 and 86, I cant remember if there were any bear attacks in 85. I was in the backcountry almost that entire summer and was out of the Philmont newsloop.
The following summer however, (86), there were several bear attacks at Philmont that were highly publicized in the national media. I know so because my family would call me and tell me "they had heard on TV that some Scouts had been attacked by bears at Philmont!" We were briefed on these bear attacks in base camp and I served one these bear attack survivors in the chow line at the Philmont mess hall.
What we were told was that one of the kids attacked by a bear the summer of 86, had been playing with spray anti-perspirant that night. And of course bears love anything "smellable" and the bear mauled him that night wandering thru camp.
I never wore deodorant of any kind while at Philmont, despite the extremely intense backpacking I did back then. Didnt need anti-perspirant there, due to the extremely low humidity and I have dry skin and hair. I didnt use scented soap, shampoo or any kind of anti-perspirant or deodorant. Neither did any of my Philmont Rayado Trek or Trail Crew buddies.
We never had any major problems with bears.
I do agree with many of the posters in this string about one thing though. The BSA is conservative...and I suspect has become even more liability conscious in the last decade or so. I really dont know what goes on at Philmont anymore...if they have banned tarps for bear reasons or whatever, I think thats a shame.
Enjoyed reading the Philmont posts, even though I hate to hear that Philmont has become so extremely liability paranoid. Insurance companies are screwing up this country.