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Philmont Crew Prep
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bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
Philmont Crew Prep on 05/14/2012 12:28:48 MDT Print View

Any suggestions on getting prep'd? It seems that no one has time (adults or Scouts) to hike let alone go for a weekend shakedown. I'm starting worry. Thoughts? Ideas?

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Philmont Preparation on 05/14/2012 14:53:34 MDT Print View

It's always a challenge to match up schedules for shakedown events.

At our initial meeting we explained that we expect participants to attend the majority of the shakedown events. If they are unable to do so, we understand, but they won't be going on this year's trip. Knowing that up front helps set the expectations.

It may be too late, but you should at least consider letting people know that if they don't participate in the shakedown events they are at risk of being dropped.

Also, it's imperative that the adults are in shape. They are usually the ones who underestimate the challenge and arrive out of shape and slow down the group. That's just not fair to the boys.

We try to have more smaller events on different days and at different times so we get the maximum participation. We have very few events that everyone can attend at the same time.

We also have Philmont mini-meetings at the normal weekly meeting. That's a time that most of our group has blocked off for scout related events anyway. It's not much fitness stuff, but that's when we did the trek selection, and we go over gear, cooking methods, water purification, etc.

What is the age and experience of your crew and when is your trek?

Edited by dallas on 05/14/2012 14:55:31 MDT.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Philmont Preparation on 05/14/2012 15:17:22 MDT Print View


It seems like you have only two months left for preparation. You didn't say whether your crew is a council contingent (hard to arrange meetings) or whether all particpants come from your troop (and thus meet anyways). It is also not clear whether you are the lead advisor or whether you are an adult who is coming along with his son. So it is sort of hard to give advice.

It made a big difference for our crew to go on prep hikes and shake-out weekends. We kept track of backpack weights -- and every prep hike the backpacks would become lighter and lighter. By the time Philmont rolled around everyone had a baseweight of around 15 lbs. The scouts knew how to set up our dining fly, how to hang bear bags, how to treat water, how to cook Philmont meals (we ordered them for our prep hikes) and were ready to go on day 1. During the prep hikes the crew had figured out how to best work together and who would be the best crew leader. Everything worked when we arrived at Philmont. Thus the crew got the most out of Philmont. You might want to get at least one shake-out weekend in to give everyone a chance to work together and reduce their pack weight.

Best Regards,


Gordon Forrest
Personal Fitness on 05/15/2012 11:55:55 MDT Print View

I would say that even more important than formal shakedown activities is physical
preparedness. Even if you aren't able to get everyone together for a couple of weekend backpacking trips to practice, you need to make sure everyone is doing their part to improve their individual personal fitness.

My crew is from Massachusetts, so we have no real way to practice altitudes of 6000-12,000 feet, but we can make sure that everyone is doing what they can to improve their own stamina and endurance - even at sea level.

Anything you can do now will pay dividends on the trail in New Mexico.

ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
Prep... on 05/15/2012 12:01:02 MDT Print View

As a Council Contingent, we set dates for various prep events about a year ago. We have a local trail on which we offer day hikes - usually every Saturday or Sunday. We had 4 weekend backpack events scheduled, of which participants had to make two. Granted, we're only two months out now, but everyone has done at least one and there is one more on the schedule. We also highly recommended that everyone had at least two crossings of the local trail (31 miles each). Most have.

All this was set out before the first meeting with the trekkers. They knew what they were getting into.

Michael Danielson
(mcd57) - MLife

Locale: Middle TN
Philmont Crew Prep on 05/15/2012 18:02:54 MDT Print View

We are going in June 2013. I have been pushing physical fitness as soon as they paid. We are starting to hike together this weekend. Training for crew work will start in August. I am the only adult that has been there in this group. I do have 4 older boys who have been there in 2010 and they will help me in the training of the younger boys. Currently I have 2 crews going. I feel you cannot start early enough.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
My attempt at shakedown trip on 06/06/2012 17:59:27 MDT Print View

We are going in July 1 of 2013 and my first attempt at a shakedown trip is next week. Problem is most of the boys going on the trip are working at the local scout camp all summer. They start at camp before my shakedown trip. So there goes the idea on having the boys going on trips this summer. Only a few are NOT working at camp so they will be attending. I have made the shakedown trips open to any of the boys in the troop since they should not feel excluded since they just joined the troop (crossovers)..Keeping it very simple...camping out at the church, practicing cooking dinner philmont style ( we are going to try the freezer bag cooking method)..sleep, breakfast next morning, tear down camp..then take the local rail to trail to the ice cream store 3 miles away..get an ice cream..then hike back to the church..setup camp again..lunch..then spend the afternoon talking what worked for them and what do the need to change..then tackle organizing the troop storage closet will all new adjustable metal shelving...make dinner...sleep..breakfast next morning and go home....Originally I had throught about hiking the entire rail to trail to the next town (9 miles away..then hike back)..but decided that would be a death march for the first time for having a backpack on. So this fall I am hoping to take the crew backpacking...and then as soon as the weather breaks next spring..get some more trips in before heading to philmont at the end of june... I was at phimont 30 years ago...

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Philmont Crew Prep on 06/07/2012 12:05:50 MDT Print View

I would suggest doing as many shakedowns as possible in the fall!!!! The spring always seems to get away from us... between school activities and the weather, we never seem to get in all the shakedowns we had planned/hoped for.
We try to plan for atleast 1 'crew exclusive' activity per month from the time they sign up. Now these activities may start out as simply as going bowling or something if it is a mixed/council crew, and move on to meetings somewhere to 'play' with stoves and filters, or a day hike, with several weekend 'shakedowns' thrown in.
Last meeting is a 'pack' shakedown. Everyone brings their pack as if we were stepping on the train to leave for Philmont and we do an item by item check, like what the Ranger will do at base camp - all personal gear is accounted for and all assigned crew gear is accounted for and distributed to the carrier of the item.
8 more days til we step on the train!!!

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: My attempt at shakedown trip on 06/16/2012 15:47:22 MDT Print View

Well.. finished our first shakedown. It went well. The boys enjoyed freezer bag cooking. Our Reactor stoves boiled water in no time. I prepped all the food just like what we will get a philmont..following the same menus... the freeze dried meals were acceptable to everyone. No one complained that they were awful. We pretended that the table in the church was our bear bag since I hvae no place to "hoist" a bear bag...

Best part was the ice cream break in the middle of the hike. We setup our philmont surplus tents. They are OK but then need a good washing/cleaning. Some of them had a smell that we could not figure out what it was.

Everyone will be making some gear adjustments. I showed the group the photos of my trip to philmont 30 years ago, plus the online video Philmont has to preparing for the trip. The video is dated since it tell the boys to bring their calling cards so they can call home. When is the last time you saw a calling card?. :)

We discussed itineraries and the different activities you can do at philmont. I had two of the three other adults going on the trip with me so they were testing out their gear too.

Overall, a good first shakedown. Next one is in August. Only 380 more days until we arrive at philmont.

Carl Zimmerman
(CarlZ993) - MLife
Shakedowns on 06/16/2012 19:00:45 MDT Print View

For our June 2013 trek, we're in the process of scheduling our shakedowns. They will be quite similar to what we've been doing the last few years. A couple of BP trips in the fall, a Big Bend BP trip over Christmas break (3 yr in a row), a BP trip at a local state park over 3-day weekend in Jan, a Grand Canyon BP trip over spring break (be 4th year in a row), and possibly one final trek at another state park in May (yuk, it's hot in Texas in May). This upcoming trek will be different than my two previous treks (2007 & 2008). On each of those treks, most of our youth were just barely old enough to go. Their strength and maturity was lacking. The 2013 group probably won't have anyone under the age of 17. After our shakedowns, even our new members will be able to rock and roll down the trail @ Philmont. if my shoulder would just quit hurting for next month's Northern Tier trip.