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Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: Mountain House Meals on 09/05/2012 18:33:42 MDT Print View

Donald,
Re: Depends on who you talk to - how true.
Just for clarification: I was told that bag itself had the same rated LINER as their commercial product bags, (But on the outside portion, no glossy treatment or fancy graphics.) The concern expressed on use that was the lack of the folded base to able to stand up properly. With a little care, we found it to be a non-issue ... everything worked out fine during our training treks and the Philmont trek itself.

I haven't heard of the toxin angle before (lol) ... Good idea to fact check.

Edited by tr-browsing on 09/16/2012 02:51:39 MDT.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Freezer Bag Cooking on 09/07/2012 17:37:29 MDT Print View

I just received a box of 20 Philmont dinners (2 each meal) and the Mountain House dinner I checked had the pleated bottom but the packaging is not as heavy.

It was said that during ranger training they were told toxins would be released if you rehydrated in the food bags.
The comment was made here in the 4th post:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=43436

Edited by DonH on 09/07/2012 18:21:04 MDT.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Rehydrating in a MH or RM Bag & Toxicity on 09/10/2012 10:55:19 MDT Print View

Re: Use of packaging bags to re-hydrate

Called both Mountain House & Richmoor just now. I was curious if the pleat was an indication the Philmont pouches were designed to be utilized for re-hydrating.

MH customer service department at 1-800-547-0244 (M-F, 8 am - 5 pm PST).
RM customer service department at 1-800-322-6325 (M-F, 8 am - 5 pm PST).

Call Results - I was informed by both companies that the Philmont bags have NOT been tested for being utilized for rehydrating and are specifically made thinner (less layers) than the normal commercial offerings in order to reduce the purchase cost, and because of the intended meal preparation method (=the traditional Philmont method) is to re-hydrate in a pot. That's the companies' official recommendation of use: re-hydrate in a pot. They do not recommend using the bag to rehydrate. There was concern about potential liability as well.

Re: Toxicity (thanks for the link)

For MH & RM, neither customer rep knew exactly what material was being utilized for the liner, but did know that the liner is rated the same the commercial offerings -in terms of preservation of the contents and chemical safety - i.e. NOT having PBAs.

Toxicity and Zip-Locs
(http://www.ziploc.com/pages/TopFAQs.aspx).
Here is a "copy & paste" of the website's answers to the questions related to toxicity:

PBAs -
[start copy & paste]

"A recent study conducted and published by the University of Cincinnati found that the estrogen-like chemical BPA (bisphenol A) has been shown to encourage the growth of a specific category of prostate cancer cells. BPA is commonly used in the manufacture of certain plastic products, such as food-can coatings, milk-container liners, food containers, and water-supply pipes. As a result, media have been reporting on this study and the fact that this chemical is commonly found in plastic food storage containers.

SC Johnson [Zip-Loc Bags manufacturer] does not use BPA in its plastic products, Ziploc® Brand Bags and Containers.

SC Johnson is a leader in providing high-quality products. All of its products are extensively evaluated for toxicity and safety and comply with—and often even exceed—applicable quality and safety regulations.

For more information, please visit www.scjohnson.com


In 2002, we became aware of an email that was being widely circulated, which warned consumers about the alleged dangers of using plastics in the microwave. This email claimed that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body, thereby increasing the risk of producing cancerous cells. We researched these claims and it is clear that the information is misleading, and unnecessarily alarms consumers.

Ziploc® Brand products are 100% dioxin free. You also should be aware that dioxins can be formed only when chlorine is combined with extremely high temperatures, such as 1,500°F, which even the most powerful consumer microwave ovens are unable to produce.

Our Ziploc® Brand products can be used with confidence when label directions are followed. All Ziploc® Brand Containers and microwaveable Ziploc® Brand Bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.

Like all Ziploc® Brand products, Zip’n Steam® Bags are dioxin free. Additionally, they are specially designed for microwave use and meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with cooking food in the microwave when label directions are followed.

Please help us alleviate consumers' concerns and share these facts with those who forwarded this misleading e-mail to you, and to whom you may have sent it. Thank you for giving us a chance to set the record straight."

[end copy & paste]

FWIW, a quick internet search reveals a long list of hits about the concerns about PBAs and Dioxins.

Ok - two years ago at this time, the story was rather different and definitely not as consistent. For rehydrating, we utilized BOTH the factory packaging & zip-loc bags, on both our training hikes (for testing out & training to the method) and on our 2011 Philmont trek (which worked out fine) ... it sure saved a lot of time & effort ... and we were planning to do the same for our 2013 trek, ... that is,before this thread.
Back to square one for evaluation.

Edited by tr-browsing on 09/16/2012 02:56:15 MDT.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Freezer Bag Cooking on 09/15/2012 10:30:14 MDT Print View

Tony, other than the fact that Philmont now bans Freezer Bag Cooking is there a reason why you wouldn't do it, say on a troop outing?

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Freezer Bag Cooking - Personal Preference on 09/16/2012 02:22:45 MDT Print View

Donald, we do use freezer bag "cooking" all the time on "normal" outings, (I've personally used it for many years). For a more economical approach, a dehydrator will be needed for at home meal prep ... also depending on the weather & the meal itself, a reflectix cozy for the bag. The approach is lightweight, fast & simple, with easy clean up (= a lot to like).

Edited by tr-browsing on 09/16/2012 02:29:45 MDT.

Jacob Phelps
(RangerJake) - F
Re: Re: Re: Freezer Bags on 10/15/2012 21:16:18 MDT Print View

Hey all! You guys were right, us Philmont Staff do "troll" these forums occasionally. I have attended Philmont twice on trek and most recently spent the summers of 2011 and 2012 on staff as a Ranger. As of July 2012 the use of turkey bags/freezer bags or any other cooking bag is prohibited.

I've had the pleasure of working with about 2 dozen crews. Most of them discussed cooking in bags with me. Here's what I have to say to them, and yourselves:

Going to Philmont is an experience. I appreciate you planning ahead and preparing for you Philmont trek. The truth is that last summer (2012) there were 28,000 people who went to Philmont. Philmont is serving 3 meal for every 2 people. Philmont is a Wilderness area. It is already expensive enough to transport trash from back country camps. If we can prevent any trash, we want to.

Part of the ethics of leave no trace is to minimize your impact. When you choose to generate more trash than you need to, you may not be polluting Philmont, but you will be sending that trash to be stored elsewhere. Plastics take a long time to decompose.

When I was a "young" ranger I gave in to a few crews wanting to use turkey bags. both times the crews broke the bag and still had to clean their pots. Not only that, they could not get all of the food out of their turkey bag.

Every bag that has an ounce left in it is not only extra weight that you will have to carry, but an extra chance of something exploding inside your pack. Now outside of bear country, this is a minor inconvenience. Inside bear country it means everything goes up in the bear bag at night, even if it is your sleeping bag.

For those who don't know One pot cooking is where you place all your freeze dried food into the pot and re-hydrate it all at once. Philmont chooses meals based on a theme, like Mexican Rice and beans... They taste delicious mixed together.

I've spent 2 summers dining with the "horrible" 1 pot cooking method. Here's what I have to say about it:

Get a bowl you can easily lick out. Washing dishes should be more of a formality than a reality. On trek and as a Ranger I used something similar to the REI Campware Serving Bowl. Deep enough to work as a bowl, wide enough to lick clean like a plate.

1) CHOLULA! This complements EVERY meal. Basecamp or freeze dried. When I share with my crews I would run out of a bottle in 2 days on the trail... so Plan accordingly.

2) IGNORE THE HYDRATING DIRECTIONS!!! If you follow them it will be a soupy mess. I usually found 1/2 to 3/4ths the recommended water worked. I would eyeball it, pour a little in until it was slightly soupy and keep adding more. You can always add water on the trail. You can't remove it.

3) Cook all of the food, divide it up evenly. There will always be a hungry teenager in the crew to eat the rest of it. After the quality of food in 2012, the best meals were dinner. Everything else was like eating out of a vending machine, very sugary so it tasted good, but it lacked any sustenance to keep you going on the trail.

4) Invest the best $4 of your life. BUY a GSI Outdoors Compact Scraper and scrape the pot and all the dishes clean.

As for a stove, in 2011 the best stoves I saw had wide bases. I've seen too many pocket rockets fail at Philmont (their prongs bend from too much weight while being heated). Truly the best stove to take to Philmont is a white gas stoves. They are very efficient and VERY sturdy. The most common stove I've seen has been the Whisperlite International. A plus is that the fuel is cheaper, more compact, and available throughout the Philmont back country.

If anyone else has any questions, I am more than happy to help!

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Freezer Bags on 10/17/2012 09:08:07 MDT Print View

Ranger Jake - thanks for the posting.

Right now, the plan we are looking to go foward with is Ziploc bowls (everyone has the same bowl) and rehydrating and eating out of the same bowl. No freezer bags. The bowl fits into the 2.5L pots for our MSR Reactor stoves. Boils water really fast. We can use the 2.5L pot for cleanup. No need to haul 8 qt pots around. We made cozies for the ziploc bowls. Seems to work well.

How would this be perceived by the rangers at Philmont?

Landing at Philmont on July 1 2013

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: Rehydrating Alternatives, that don't Require Freezer Bags. on 10/17/2012 12:18:48 MDT Print View

+1 on what Stephen's lads are doing.

In an effort to reduce weight, size and time, We're going down a similar path in prepping for our 2013 trek. Our guys are currently mostly utilizing Ziploc rectangular containers (the type lunch meats come in), to rehydrate in the container. The ziploc containers are very light and can be gotten for free (by saving them from their use as lunch meat containers) As Stephen already mentioned, ziplocs beautifully nest, and can be stored in a more reasonable (and much lighter) sized pot. There is no additional trash generation associated with utilizing freezer bags.

Since the lads have a baseline reference of the clean up convenience of the freezer bag method ... they are always looking for similar speed & minimized clean up effort. Since the manufacturer's meal bag has 2 meals in it, there has been movement among the meal buddies, that one of them gets to rehydrate in the manufacturer's bag making sure that bag resting in the Scout's ziploc container (so the manufacturer's bag acts as kind of a liner for the container, and the container is there in case of bag leaks). This reduces impact by reducing the number of bowls to be cleaned. A few meal buddies don't bother to split up the meal & just share out of the bag provided (which is still resting in the container). This further minimizes impact by eliminating the need for the bowls to be cleaned (provided of course no leaks, which hasn't happened yet)

Benefit Summary - This approach is a further impact reduction: minimizes cleaning of the wash pot (= boiling pot), and halves the cleaning requirement of the bowls which further reduces grey water generation and campsoap use - all without increasing trash generation.
(For those that shared out of the provided bag, that has the greatest reduction of impact of all - minimal clean up required - No generation of grey water, no use of campsoap, and of course, NO increase in trash generation, ... in addition to the benefit of being a big time saver for clean up)

I'm looking forward to see how things progress in our crew as time goes on, and of course, reading about the efforts of other crews posted to this forum.

Edited by tr-browsing on 10/17/2012 17:44:19 MDT.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Cooking on 10/17/2012 16:00:49 MDT Print View

Jacob, thank you for your insight. You mentioned "Part of the ethics of leave no trace is to minimize your impact.".

I understand advisors were served coffee in styrofoam cups that were provided by Philmont while in the back country.
Where does that fall in the efforts to reduce trash and minimize impact?

Also I have been advised that rehyrdating in individual bowels is also prohibited too.

I would not allow boys sharing food from the same bag. Most illness in the back country is spread by sharing food.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
+1 on questions, & stats on illness in the back country on 10/18/2012 11:03:47 MDT Print View

RE: Philmont LNT-
From what I've seen, Philmont practice of LNT is certainly not as strong or as consistent as it could be. For example, I use pictures (taken during our 2011 trek) of tree damage (phloem damage) from the bear bagging rope practice as examples of what NOT to do (and the LNT need for stand off sticks to protect the bark from rope wrap)... there are many other examples of non-LNT practices that occur at Philmont. I think it is a good thing that they are making efforts to improve. I just hope they realize there are lots of "low hanging fruit" and that strong preachers need to first be strong practitioners. Lead by example.

RE: Bowl re-hydrating -
So, the reasoning behind the move against re-hydrating in a freezer bag, was because of the waste generation and the desire to reduce impact.
Is it true that re-hydrating in a bowl is prohibited too? (... as Donald related in his post) If true, then a natural question arises: how does that contribute to increased waste generation and increased impact? (Because in practice, it actually reduces waste generation and reduces impact.) Jacob, help me understand that.


RE: "Most illness in the back country is spread by sharing food."
Yeah, given the safety first mindset, I also had that concern about permitting the lads (who were meal buddies) to do that. From researching it, I've read that the majority of back country illnesses (which are diarrhea related)are from either drinking untreated water, or from lack of "good hygiene" (defined as routine cleaning of cooking utensils & pots (i.e. disinfecting) and the cleaning hands after bowel movements). As a supplement to the research, I also talked to a parent who is a family physician, who agreed with the above, & thought we should also be aware that there are additional transmission risks to consider ... first, from the close quarters of a shared sleeping shelter (for flus, etc. transmission) and that there were also potential risks of "double dipping" (as she phrased it) during food preparation & serving (for flu & hygiene related illnesses). Ok, so that's my answer I thought - not to allow sharing. But then, when I specifically asked about meal buddies (who are shelter buddies)sharing of food, she thought it was ok, PROVIDED that the lads are responsible enough to CONSISTENTLY maintain good hygiene and avoid going on trips when they were feeling or starting to feel sick.

... so, for the boys who wanted to do it, I've allowed it to continue for a few.

In the past, this has already been happening "de-facto" for those "always hungry" Scouts that eat up the left overs.

FYI, from my research I discovered that NCBI has some great research & stats on wilderness illness hazards. Here's two links to abstracts of research studies geared towards backpackers:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12681456
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14769284

Right now, we're still going down the re-hydrate in a bowl path. We'll have a final determination on those that share out of a bag.
I enjoy watching the boy-led creativity on their time & effort improvements, (Hmm, that's worthy of a separate thread being created.)

Edited by tr-browsing on 10/18/2012 11:14:27 MDT.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
cooking on 10/18/2012 16:57:24 MDT Print View

Found it interesting that a crew was there this past summer, water was in short supply in places. But yet, they wanted them to use that precious water to wash pots, instead of allowing turkey bags. They used the turkey bags anyway btw,as did a lot of crews that came prepared to. Once the ranger is gone, you do what you want.

You have to carry un-eaten food scraped from a pot anyway to the place you can dispose it, only say hello to the gallon ziplock yum-yum bags instead of the turkey bags. And yes that goes in someones pack too, and in the bear bags.

I can believe that it is an attempt to cut down on garbage wt that has to be carried out. I dont buy the "green" angle at all, other Philmont actions dont support that at all. Look at the amount of plastic and paper waste in the food packaging.

I sent an email to Philmont asking about some of these issues. Recieved no response.
In it I asked if we were to be required to carry an 8l pot for a ranger to demonstrate the one pot method? I basically said it would be fine with us if the ranger carried that pot.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Philmont is not "Leave no Trace" on 10/18/2012 19:00:57 MDT Print View

> From what I've seen, Philmont practice of LNT is certainly not as strong or as consistent as it could be.

When our crew went to Philmont in 2009, we went prepared to do LNT cooking, using only their own packages - zero extra waste - zero clean up, LNT bear bagging that didn't damage the trees, etc...
At base camp when I pushed to allow our crew to use these LNT techniques, the head ranger pushed back and said, "We don't really do Leave No Trace at Philmont. What we actually do is called "Concentrated Impact."

And if you step back and think about Philmont policies and techniques they do fit the model of concentrating the damage to nearby tie-off trees, sump areas, fire rings, and tent areas at each camp.

It is another, and probably easier, way of trying to minimize damage to the ranch given 20,000 campers pouring through each year, many untrained in LNT.

I sure would have liked to have my scouts be given the opportunity to do LNT at Philmont, but it is their ranch and their rules.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
fbc on 10/18/2012 19:22:55 MDT Print View

"I sure would have liked to have my scouts be given the opportunity to do LNT at Philmont, but it is their ranch and their rules."

Yes, their rules, but as a BSA members I would sure like to think its our ranch too.

However, the BSA doesnt exactly have a track record of being the go-to experts for many things. Certainly not backpacking, low impact camping, or even youth protection.
They have always been a reactionary organization, and slow. or late, to change with times.

I looked a picture the other day where boy scouts were handing out pouches of tobacco to flood victims in the 1920s. Tobacco. Times change, the scouts change too. What was OK yesterday or today , wont be tomorrow.

Just as certain as 60 lb backpacks are out of vogue, and so is "real" cooking in the backcountry, so will become other things they staunchly try to adhere to today.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
RE: Concentrated Impact clarification on 10/19/2012 00:32:25 MDT Print View

As a LNT trainer, let me clarify the concept of "Concentrated Impact" - it is a "containment" approach for high traffic areas to be limited to already impacted sites ... the idea is to limit tents, kitchen areas, etc. to already existing impacted areas and NOT CREATE NEW impacted sites and also NOT TO EXPAND out those already existing impacted sites.

In using this approach, the impacted sites should be on durable surfaces ... which unfortunately, is not always the case in Philmont ... and that consequently offers opportunities to do LNT remedial practices.

... and ... of course, even if using that approach, all 7 of the LNT principles are still to be followed & practiced.

As George suggests with a difference in approach, I think that it is very possible for Philmont to improve its practice of LNT to eliminate or at least minimize "concentrated impact" compromises. It would be great if a trek to Philmont could role model the best in LNT practices for the lads ...

Edited by tr-browsing on 10/22/2012 10:04:57 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Bump for visibility on 10/23/2012 17:32:10 MDT Print View

visibility

Jacob Phelps
(RangerJake) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Freezer Bags on 12/23/2012 16:19:31 MST Print View

I found this thread and made my first post before I became consumed with school and work. I tried to come back about a month ago and I'm not sure if it was my mistake, but it seemed like I had to be a paying subscriber to post.

I read through the posts after mine and made my remarks in order of their appearance. I did go back and change a couple of things as your guys’ conversation evolved.

I just want to say that I have been trying to get into website design for a while, so I built a website that I hope will become a great resource to help people going to Philmont. I know in my summers working on staff and in my experience going to Philmont as a scout on trek that it is difficult to find reliable information online. I want to say that this site is and always will be a free resource. I even included a forum section. The web site is www.PlanPhilmont.com and if you guys have any suggestions for topics/articles you can make a post in the forums or send me an email at Jphelps@PlanPhilmont.com. Or if you want to ask me a direct question you can send me an email too.

Food Bags
I caution you that the manufacturer bags are NOT designed to be cooked in. Even though it is Mountain House food, it is not the same packaging (foil lined) that you would purchase at a sporting goods store. Philmont is the number 2 user of freeze dried food in the world (behind the US military) and to save money they special order meals from Mountain House to not be foil lined. It is just a thin plastic. There is one exception, the Chicken Salad for lunch is a cold hydrate.
Philmont Leave No Trace
I cannot speak for other departments at Philmont (Back Country Camps), but the Ranger Department strives to instill the ethics of Leave No Trace in every person we meet. As for the Styrofoam cups, it is done as a courtesy to advisers. It is 100% up to the staff at a camp weather to use Styrofoam or to allow advisers to use their dishware (that they have to wash). I have seen about a 50/50 use of both. Philmont is a unique place for several reasons. Philmont has always regarded their property to be a concentrated camping environment. Recently we began incorporating Leave No Trace principals on property with good results. As of 2012 we are requiring sticks to protect the bark on trees. This will help protect what is left, but with 25,000 people hiking through the property, each one required to hang bear bags or be cited for Bear Baiting (which is a felony in New Mexico) there will be damage. Just as we build trails, latrines, and campsites, we sacrifice a small amount of land to area the greater beauty. Further with any organization that has over 1200 employees, there will be some degree of inconsistency (not an excuse, just a fact).
Bowl Rehydrating
I won’t lie, when I went on trek to Philmont that is the method my crew used on both of our treks. There were two drawbacks we saw. First, we sometimes did not have big enough bowls to mix all the food in our bowl without overflowing. Second, we usually ate cold food every night. Philmont makes no exceptions, you are required to take at least one 8 quart cooking pot. Your ranger is required to teach you the “One Pot” cooking method. I have been advised in the past by my managers not to allow it while I am with the crew.
While at Philmont, the goal is to get crews away from acting as individuals and to encourage team building. Making dinner together i
Back Country Illness
MAKE SURE TO BRING HAND SANITIZER! Philmont changes their stance every year. Philmont has had a battle the past few years with the Norwalk Virus. Each summer it plagues staff and campers alike. Make sure you teach your crew to use hand sanitizer before every meal and to wash up frequently. I have never fell ill to it despite having several participants who catch it. I attribute this to my religiously using hand sanitizer and always sanitizing my dishes.
Proper “Trail Etiquette” when sharing snack food is to pour trail mix (or anything else) onto the hand of the person you are sharing with. That way they you don’t get their germs in your food. I make it a point if I put my fingers inside a trail mix bag, I do not share with other people.
If you drink untreated water at Philmont, your largest concern will be for Giardia. It will take you about 2 weeks before you get diarrhea resembling sea foam.
Cleaning Pots
It uses about 2-3 cups of water. If you use the scraper I mentioned in my previous post, you can get away with just a few ounces of water. Most rangers have a rule with scouts: Eat all the food. With teenagers, that is usually easy to accomplish. You will be eating 2-3,000 calories a day and still be burning body fat. Leftover food should NOT be an issue. If it is, fatigue will become an issue with your crew.
In Regards to the other waste in the meals, in 2011 Philmont began a recycling initiative to recycle meal bags. In 2012 that expanded to all cardboard in the meals. From what I understand we are going to be expanding the recycling program as well.
Philmont Concentrated Camping
Tony Ronco hit it right on the head. Your ranger will even discuss the differences between Pure LNT camping and Concentrated Camping. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY for 25,000 campers to go through Philmont without causing a problem. A funny story that the Program Director Mark Anderson tells now and again is how he went to a conference on pooping outdoors. If you do the math, 25,000 campers and 1,000 staffers pooping for about 75 days (about how long the summer season is) makes about 1.9 million cat holes. I admit a Latrine isn’t too Leave No Trace, but since you won’t get scouts to pack out their own poo we have to make leave a trace with a building and a concentrated impact on the camp.
I will be the first to admit that Philmont is by NO means the leader the best Leave No Trace practices. They are making HUGE movement and leading the way within the BSA to push LNT camping. The Boy Scouts of America are notorious for being the Number 1 offenders of the forest service. Philmont influences almost every district in the Boy Scouts of America every summer. If we can change the minds and convert just a few people each year in each district we can start making a change that will impact all of the Boy Scouts.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Rehydrate in bowls on 12/26/2012 12:25:07 MST Print View

"While at Philmont, the goal is to get crews away from acting as individuals and to encourage team building."

OK I'm trying to understand the reasoning behind this. So let's compare the two methods and see how or if we are encouraging the crew to act as individual and where the team building factors in.

Philmont method:
Two cooks assemble needed items
Dump contents of several meal pouches into large pot
Heat water and add, wait for rehydration
Serve to crew.
Clean up crew cleans large pot, serving spoon, individual bowls and spoons

Bowl method:
Two cooks assemble needed items
Dump contents of several meal pouches into individual bowls
Heat water and add to individual bowl, wait for rehydration
Serve to crew.
Clean up crew cleans individual bowls and spoons.

Both crews have a cooking and cleaning team that prepares and serves the meal, and everyone eats together, then cleans up.
Seems to me the bowl method crew has more time to bond (team building) since they're not wasting time doing dishes. Unless you consider KP a team building exercise.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
fbc on 12/26/2012 13:48:18 MST Print View

There is a huge number of inexperienced backpackers coming to Philmont, and the BSA has some responsibility for their safety and well being while there.

This is what is at the root of many Philmont rules. This is why they want to get everyone to do everything the same way. Only thru attempting to control everything you do, and exactly how you do it, do they feel comfortable with that responsibility.

When food was actually cooked, it made sense to only cook one pot. That was obviously lighter, and easier.

When rehydrating, it isnt necessarilly. It does result in hotter food however, than when done individually in smaller containers. But it requires bringing a large pot that just isnt needed any more.

The argument that the Philmont way promotes unity is a farce. How does having two boys do all the cooking do that? What about un-equal shares of food eaten, does that promote unity ? Not for the kid that feels he didnt get his fair share.

BSA is just slow to change, and Philmont is another example of that.

Only in BSA can a boy spend 11 days backpacking, and when done, still not know how to go real backpacking. Of course, they are being taught that even carrying 3-4 days food is a lot.

Hand sanitizer is actually less effective than soap. I would rather have clean hands, than dirty , "sanitized" hands.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/26/2012 14:02:00 MST.

Jacob Phelps
(RangerJake) - F
Re: Rehydrate in bowls on 12/27/2012 18:18:25 MST Print View

On both of my treks as a scout, we re-hydrated our food in individual bowls. Only as a ranger did I start using the "one pot method". You could say that everyone getting the exact same food is a bonding experience.

As a scout on trek, I remember that every dinner we ate as a crew started as the same. There is no precise way on the trail to perfectly split in 1/2 a freeze dried meal. Some nights I would get a little more than my tent partner. That isn't a big deal though. When you rehydrate the food, you can measure the precise amount of water needed to rehydrate. If you put too much powder in one bowl and too little in the other, well the bowl that you put too little in is going to be soup while the one with too much freeze dried powder is going to be dry. That scout with the dry bowl adds warm water and has a perfect meal while the other is stuck with a soup for dinner. The idea is that the crew enjoys together or the crew suffers together.

If your crew gets a one of the GSI Outdoors Compact Scraper, cleanup in the pot is easy and scouts will sometimes argue over who wants to do it because they get more food. If scouts lick clean their bowl there is no cleanup.

Sorry to be blunt: I would love to say that you don't have to take a 8qt cooking pot, but there is no way that you can get around it. Philmont rangers are required to require you to take it. Since you will have to carry it, you might as well get used to it and find the best, most efficient way to do use it... trust me the GSI Outdoors Compact Scraper is the way to go. They're dirt cheap and worth every penny.


There are TONS of inexperienced backpackers who make it to Philmont and YES, Philmont is liable for any problems. They do have a "cookie-cutter" formula they use, but trust me IT WORKS if you follow it. There are some places that you can be tweaked and improved, but it works. It is the same method that has been used for the past 30+ years on the trails.

The idea of unity and teamwork comes from every scout having a responsibility to help the team. There is no way that everybody can cook their own food at the same time. Philmont's philosophy is that the entire crew needs responsibilities to contribute to the benefit of the crew. These duties rotate daily so everyone gets a chance at them.

I sense a lot of hostility towards Philmont. As having experience on both sides of Philmont, trying to get around the system as a camper and teaching and following the system as a Ranger I know that the Philmont system works in group backpacking trips. I know that when I backpack with groups of friends we don't follow Philmont policy (except bear procedure when necessary).

As for trail hygiene and hand sanitizer most advisers I have encountered prefer to wash their hands at the sump which is better than using hand sanitizer. However scouts who generally practice poor hygiene compared to their advisers don’t want to wash their hands. Eating clean dirt is better than eating dirty dirt. You will also run into situations at dry camps where you do not want to use water to wash your hands because you would rather drink it. From my experience using hand sanitizer and wiping your hands (while still wet with hand sanitizer) will usually get most if not all of the dirt off your hands.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
RE: "The crew enjoys together or the crew suffers together." on 12/29/2012 10:21:42 MST Print View

Oy, I've seen the team approach defined by "the idea is that the crew enjoys together or the crew suffers together" method being promoted by a percentage of Scouters ... so, in this one case - and applying that method - if one has a soupy meal then they ALL should have a soupy meal?
May I suggest that a better promoter of team spirit & a more constructive measure of team cohesiveness: the willingness of team members help one another.
All Scouts within a crew have strengths & weaknesses. Seeing Scouts self initiate the leadership and team building skills within their crew to achieve cohesion using those strengths & weaknesses is both a growing & character building experience for all ... and wonderful reward for the adult leaders.

Example of that kind of team spirit (concerning soupy meals and individually re-hydrating) - During training hikes we've had few Scouts that have had unwanted soupy meals, did they suffer alone? no, other Scouts stepped up and with much drier meals and offered to mix their meal with the soupy meals to reduce the amount of water present (mix together, then split again). I've seen this process repeat a few times too, until an acceptable consistency was achieved. This was a lesson-rich situation for building the qualities that Scouting is about.

Point: Re-hydrating in a bowl happens to be an approach that allowed the flexibility and the opportunity for individual Scouts to take self-initiative, work on problem solving skills, and to practice team building at the same time.
It is a very different approach (and outcome) than "the crew enjoys together or the crew suffers together" method.

Main (Team Spirit) Point: This is not about re-hydrating - It is about boy-led team building & cohesiveness; and the character building that is foundational to achieving that. Our job as adults is to promote that as often and as best we can in a safe manner.





BTW (this off the main point of team building): Eliminating meals that are too watery:

There are easy measuring techniques that can be applied here. I won't go into them here to keep this long post from getting longer. But the techniques should be learned & practiced on the training hikes. Remember living the Scout Motto: Be Prepared

Hostility-
We can disagree without being disagreeable. Better to achieve clarity first, before attempting agreement. I hope that as Scouters we can all live up to the Scout Oath & Law

Edited by tr-browsing on 12/29/2012 21:10:25 MST.