Fall Court of Honor – September 28, 2016

On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, Troop 59 will be holding its Fall Court of Honor.  This Court of Honor celebrates the achievements of the troop, including rank advancements and earned merit badges, since this past June. All scouts, family members and friends are invited to attend.  Scouts will wear full Class A uniforms, including sashes and pins.

The Court of Honor will start at 7:30 PM, at the First Presbyterian Church.  Light refreshments will be served following the ceremony.

Nicholas Haines, Eagle Scout

Congratulations to Nicholas Haines, upon earning Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program.

During a Court of Honor held on August 27 at the First Presbyterian Church, Nick was presented with his Eagle Scout badge and pin, and was celebrated by members his family, friends, and fellow Troop 59 scouts and leaders.

Troop 59 offers our heartiest congratulations to Nick on this achievement!

New Leadership Positions

Here are the 2016/2017 Troop 59 leadership positions of responsibility:

  • Senior Patrol Leader: M Baeyens
  • Assistant Senior Patrol Leader: W Walto
  • Patrol Leaders: T Garno and A McAvoy
  • Scribe: J Wagner
  • Webmaster: T Marshall
  • Quartermaster: M Sullivan
  • Librarian: D Vreeland
  • Bugler: A McAvoy
  • Leave No Trace Trainer: J Soldan
  • Chaplain’s Aide: J Sullivan
  • Historian: S Theoclitus

Scouts must know, understand and fulfill the responsibilities of their positions in order to have completed the requirement to “serve actively in your unit… …in one or more (of the following) positions of responsibillity.” for rank advancement.

Refer to the responsibilities on the Troop 59 web site at http://www.troop59.com/troop-positions-of-leadership/


WG43 – Disharmony on the Trail

Included in this message:

  • Advice on avoiding disharmony on the trail
  • Watchu Mountain Outfitters will be open for business during the WMA
  • Watchu Mountain Adventure hints
  • Rafting and Blue Sky Adventures releases reminder
  • Question about program availability
  • Philmont Arrival information confirmation
  • Watchu Experience Web site FAQs page reminder

Disharmony on the Trail

A physically and mentally challenging Philmont trek can lead to stress-induced disharmony even in a crew of good friends.  Here are some words of wisdom from fellow Philmonter Joe Jansen on how to avoid such unpleasantness:

  1. Be sure everyone has plenty to eat. Phil-meals will accomplish this.
  1. Be sure everyone has plenty of water to drink. It’s very easy to imagine you don’t need water on a day that is not hot and humid.  Everyone should drink plenty and at regular intervals, whether you imagine you need it or not.
  1. Be sure everyone takes care of their feet. If anyone has the slightest doubt on how their feet are doing the crew should stop, take hiking boots off, and look for any points of wear.  A Band-Aid and/or a change of socks may be needed.
  1. Be sure everyone gets adequate rest. Tents should be pitched where the ground is not stony or where there are remains of stumps or roots.  Everyone should have a ground pad, both for insulation from the cold of the ground and for comfort.
  1. Be sure everyone gets a chance to participate in decision making. You need to keep a steady pace to stay on a reasonable time schedule, but the treks allow enough time to stop, enjoy a view and take photographs.  It’s easy to take a wrong turn and get off course on some treks, and participation in navigation is a very good idea.  It’s a very good idea for the Crew Chief to discuss with the crew on a regular basis (several times daily) what decisions have been made and why they have been made.
  1. Be sure everyone’s idea of what they hope for their Philmont expedition gets considered at regular intervals. There is considerable flexibility at every stage of a Philmont Trek to discuss where you are going and learn about Philmont as you go along.  So be sure to have discussion among crewmembers – what they are interested in accomplishing as they learn more about the opportunities.
  1. Be sure everyone understands the crew is a BSA crew. The Scout Law and Scout Promise (or Venturing equivalents) are the best guide to harmony on the trek.
  1. Conduct a “Thorns and Roses” session each night. Daily “Thorns and Roses” sessions will prevent small irritations from growing into larger issues that threaten crew harmony.


The Watchu Mountain Outfitters will be open for business both during the Watchu Mountain Adventure and the June Advisor Briefing.  In addition to their regular items, they will have surplus Philmont Trail Meals for sale – stock up for your last shakedown hikes!  Stop by and pickup some bargains.


The Watchu Mountain Hints:  Participants at Badger Day on Watchu Mountain Saturday, April 25, report that the bugs were “tough.”  Be prepared with bug repellant (of course, a “smellable” and needs to be up in the bear bag at night).

Year in and year out advisors cite “Hiking is a Team Sport” as the single most important thing they got out of the entire eighteen month Watchu Experience.  Your entire crew needs to be prepared for a “pop quiz” on hiking is a team sport; make sure they are ready!


Reminders: Both a whitewater Rafting Release and a Blue Sky Adventures Release are required for each member of the crew, youth and adult.  The forms for youth must be signed by parent or guardian.  If there are any members of your crew who can’t go rafting, for whatever reason (medical, non swimmer, no parent permission, etc), the tour operator, Rob Pardue, needs to know during your Watchu session with him.  Please come prepared with that information.  The Rafting Release states that in should be signed no more than 180 days before the trip, but Rob Pardue of Blue Sky Adventures advises that the outfitter, Echo Canyon Rafting, will accept forms signed earlier.


Advisor Question:  “If a crew is passing a staff camp that has a program you are interested in, can they just stop in and get the program presentation without any advanced check-in?”

Answer:  Advanced check-in is generally not required except for horseback riding, which crews sign up for during their Logistics session in Base Camp on the first day at Philmont.  Simply have your Crew Chief check in at the staff cabin and ask if your crew can participate in the program.  If your crew is “ship-shape” and polite, you will probably get in on the program.  The exception being if the staff is backed up with crews scheduled for the program via their itineraries.  That conflict does not happen often, though beginning in 2012 Philmont camp staff were invoking it more commonly.  Most backcountry staff bend over backwards to get you through their program.

The Watchu Trail Planning Team will answer questions about your trek at the Watchu Mountain Adventure – come prepared with plenty for them!


Philmont Arrival Information:  All crews should have submitted their travel information to Philmont and received a confirmation e-mail of their travel plans (separate from the confirmation of itinerary selection.)  If your crew has not received a travel confirmation, click HERE to login to Philmont’s Web site (you will need your crew password used for itinerary selection) and supply the information, which for all contingents is:

  • Your Arrival Contact is Rob Pardue, Blue Sky Adventures, phone 561-531-3722. Use your e-mail address, not Rob’s, so that the confirmation is sent to you.
  • You will arrive at 9:15am on the month and date indicated by your crew number (6/30 for the 630 contingent, 7/11 for 711, etc.)
  • Your Arrival Mode will be Chartered Bus
  • Your Location will be Philmont
  • Your first meal at Philmont will be Lunch
  • Your do not need transportation from Raton or Cimarron

Philmont uses this information to make sure your Ranger is available when you arrive and to minimize your wait at the Welcome Center.  If the information on your confirmation e-mail does not match what is shown above, log on and correct it.


Watchu Request:  Pray for rain!  Philmont training works much better in the rain.


Reminder:  The FAQs page of the Watchu Experience Web site contains the answers to dozens of questions that come up every year.  It is worthwhile to read through them even if you don’t have a question at the moment – there may be one you just have not thought of yet!


Check it out!  Two representatives from Canon USA and photographers from the BSA national office were at Philmont in 2011 to plan for a photography workshop taking place that fall at Philmont Training Center. During their visit they captured this Gigapan image from the Miranda meadow: http://gigapan.org/gigapans/fullscreen/74276/


Phil Fact:  Henri Buruel obtained mining rights from Lucien Maxwell in the 1860’s and operated the French Henry Mine on the ridge above Copper Park on Baldy Mountain.  The remains of his cabin are still there.  French Henry camp is at the location of a mill constructed in 1898 by the Claude Mining and Milling Company, and the present museum cabin dates from that time.  French Henry is the only staffed camp which does not have camping, and one of only two without a source of treated water (Crooked Creek is the other.)


French Henry camp is God’s country!

Henri Buruel
Baldy Mountain, New Mexico Territory

WG42 – Watchu Mountain Adventure Invitation

Included in this message:

  • WMA Invitation / Friday night and Saturday morning schedules
  • Watchu Request – fill your water bottles at home
  • Crew Photo and Cell Phone reminders
  • Fast Pass update
  • Note to Contingent Tour Advisors
  • Guidebook to Adventure tip / Trail Planning reminder
  • WMA Pre-test

Your crew is enthusiastically invited to attend the
2015 Watchu Mountain Adventure!!

Friday, May 1st through Sunday, May 3th

Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation

The Watchu Mountain Adventure will be the highlight of your entire Watchu Experience – the opportunity to put all you have learned to the test in a simulated Philmont environment, the chance to ask questions of experienced Philmont veterans during presentations on every aspect of a Philmont trek, and two exciting multi-media shows that will have you and your crew chomping at the bit to get into the Magic Mountains of the Philmont backcountry.

The schedule, as follows, is identical for all crews until 8:00am Saturday morning, at which time each crew will begin following one of two separate tracks through the remainder of the weekend’s activities.

Friday Evening:

5:00pm to 6:30 pm    Check-in

5:15pm to 8:15pm       Trail of Discovery (floating start, based on arrival time)

6:45pm to 8:30pm     Setup camp (floating start, after Trail of Discovery)

8:45pm                        Advisor Orientation

9:00pm                        Youth Gather

9:30pm                        Opening Program, followed by a crackerbarrel

10:15pm                       Setup camp (if more time is needed) / Free time

11:00pm                       Lights out

Saturday Morning:

6:00am            Reveille, breakfast, strike camp, and pack

7:15am            Crew Chief Briefing on Shakedown Mesa

Chaplain Aide Briefing on Shakedown Mesa

Crew Reporter Briefing on Shakedown Mesa

Lead Advisor Briefing on Shakedown Mesa

Recall – all youth crew leadership positions should be filled BEFORE you arrive on Watchu Mountain

8:00am            Find the gaps – it’s not just a hike – hiking is a team sport!

See Friday/Early Saturday Schedule and Sample Saturday/Sunday Schedule for more information and detail about the schedules.  Your crew will receive its actual schedule for the weekend at check-in on Friday evening.


Watchu Request:  Please remind everyone in your crew to come to the Watchu Mountain Adventure with full water bottles – it will help speed up your journey on the “Trail of Discovery.”


Crew Photo Reminder:  Shortly after arrival, a crew photo will be taken – each crew member should look sharp in their full official BSA uniform.


Cell Phone Reminder:  Each crew should carry at least one cell phone throughout the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  Cell numbers will be recorded at Check-in on Friday in case your crew needs to be contacted in an emergency and crews will be given a telephone number to use if they need to contact the Watchu staff.


Watchu Fast Pass Check-in:  Tuesday night 17 crews were certified for Fast Pass Check-in at the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  Great work!.


Special note to Contingent Tour Advisors (one per contingent):  You are expected to attend a short meeting Sunday morning at 8:15am on Shakedown Mesa with Rob Pardue of Blue Sky Adventures and Chief Watchu.


Tip:  The Watchu Mountain Adventure will work much better if all members of your crew have read their Guidebook to Adventure beforehand.  Also, all advisors should have read the other material sent from Philmont in the advisors package, especially the Philmont TREKS – Itinerary Guide.  Bring these important guidebooks and your Philmanac with you to the Mountain for your Trail Planning session Saturday evening.

Trek Planning Reminder:  Your crew will have a crew-specific Trail Planning exercise during the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  Recall that Dwight Stein, the former Logistics Manager at Philmont, will be on the mountain to answer specific questions you may have about your trek.  Bring your crew’s Philmanac and TREKS Itinerary Guide.  Each crew member should bring their Guidebook to Adventure.  (If you have not received your copies of TREKS, the Guidebook to Adventure, and other documents, you should contact Philmont about getting replacements.)


Pre-Test:  The Watchu Team refers to the Watchu Mountain Adventure as a “mid-term exam” for you to evaluate where your crew is on the trail of preparing for Philmont.  Test yourself to see if you are ready for the Adventure – do you know the answers to the following questions from the Watchu Mountain Adventure section of the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page of the Watchu Experience Web site?  If not, you should spend some time brushing up.

  1. How does a crew handle a Tour and Activity Plan for the Watchu Mountain Adventure?
  1. What is the check-in time on Friday for the Watchu Mountain Adventure?
  1. What is “Fast Pass” check-in and how does a crew qualify for it?

4    Will copies of the Philmont medical forms be acceptable at the check-in for the Watchu Mountain Adventure, or must originals be used?

5    Is it possible to turn in something other than a Philmont medical form for a crew member at the Watchu Mountain Adventure?

  1. Is it possible for a crew member to leave the Watchu Mountain Adventure for a short period of time to attend to some other personal commitment?
  1. Will crew members wear the full official uniform during the entire Watchu Mountain Adventure?
  1. Is it correct that, unlike Philmont, crew equipment such as toilet paper, tents, dining fly, cooking utensils, pots, etc., will NOT be provided for the Watchu Mountain Adventure and must be supplied by each crew?
  1. Is there anything special (not on the Equipment Lists) that advisors should bring to the Watchu Mountain Adventure?
  1. Will food be provided to crews at the Watchu Mountain Adventure, or must each crew bring meals for its members?
  1. When should the crew’s Crew Chief, Chaplain Aide, Wilderness Pledge Guia and Navigator be selected?
  1. Will there be opportunity to fill water containers during the Watchu Mountain Adventure?
  1. Will dinner be at sites with a water source, or will it be a “dry camp” where water must be carried in?
  1. Will the hike during the Watchu Mountain Adventure a crew be at least 15 miles, satisfying the requirement for the Backpacking Merit Badge?


See you on the Mountain!

Bat Masterson
St. James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico Territory
Lawman, gunfighter and guest

WG41 – Hiking is a Team Sport

Included in this message:

  • Top Tip! – how to hike as a team
  • Watchu Mountain Adventure “Fast Pass” check-in certification
  • Bonus hiking tips
  • Trek assignment chart

Hiking is a Team Sport has consistently been rated the “Top Tip” by contingent advisors, year after year.  Most who have religiously followed these suggestions claim they made the biggest and most positive impact on crew performance.

Hiking is a team sport – if you and your crew get that, you will have a great trek.

Is anyone NOT ready for the hiking quiz at the Watchu Mountain Adventure?

Watching crews hike at Philmont is a wonderful educational experience.  Here comes a crew spread out all over the mountain.  Two or three Scouts a half-mile up the trail.  Two advisors far back down the trail.  And everyone else is somewhere in between.  The end of the crew has no contact with the front or even the mid point.  The crew members are expressing various degrees of unhappiness.

Then we have a crew hiking smartly.  Each member spaced at about five or six paces.  Everyone is in contact, but not so close that they only see the boots in front of them.  Everyone is chanting and singing together.  All are having a great time and enjoying the spectacular scenery and each others’ fellowship.

Which crew will you be?  Well, if you would like to be the second, here are a few points that will help make it happen.

  1. Hiking is a team sport:  Everyone must be trained to know that Hiking is a team sport.  Everyone must be trained to be committed to the success of the entire crew.  Everyone must be trained to ask at all times, “What can I do to make this hike a success for my crew mates?”  And everyone must be trained to know that the conduct of the hike is the responsibility of the Crew Chief.  If the crew develops this hiking mentality, the crew, Crew Chief, and advisors will reap many surprising benefits along the trail.  But this does not just happen.  It requires training.
  1. The slowest hiker sets the pace: It is amazing how much more territory a crew can cover if the slowest hiker sets the pace.  It prevents the crew from breaking up and causing the fast to wait for the slow.  Then when the slow catch up, they need a rest.  Yet the fast want to get going again.  It turns into a vicious debilitating cycle that causes crew attitudes to go sour.  Putting the slowest person in front guarantees he will set the pace, but as long as those in front of the slowest match his pace, the slowest can be in another position near the front.  The slowest sets the pace is a vital principle in the military for moving men across terrain – it might be counter-intuitive, but it absolutely is true.
  1. The slowest hiker is not always the same person: Everyone is subject to problems along the trail that may slow them down from time to time.  The slowest person in the morning might be quick in the afternoon.  The slowest uphill may be fairly quick downhill.  Look for gaps to develop in the hiking file.  The person on the tail end of the developing gap is the slowest.  That hiker goes to the front immediately after a gap opens in front of them.  If the same person is usually the slowest, or if that person hikes better with someone in front of them to “pull them along,” try putting the slowest second or third, as long as those in front match the pace of the slowest and don’t run away from the group.
  1. The advisors never lead the crew and usually hike in the rear: If an advisor is very slow, that advisor must move forward.  Maybe even up to second or third.  But an advisor never leads the crew.  Also, it is advisable to keep at least one advisor at the dead last position.  This is the best position for keeping an eye out for safety.  And a good spot for finding and picking up dropped essentials.
  1. The Crew Chief and the navigator usually hike close to the front: This helps keep the crew on target and the Chief in control.  Now and then the Chief may want to observe the crew from near the rear.  Also, all members of the crew should be trained to keep an eye out for the navigational checkpoints.  The navigator is accountable for the days hiking plan, but every member of the crew is responsible for picking up the important landmarks.  If landmarks are missed, all members of the crew are responsible, not just the navigator.
  1. Always hike single file: Walk softly on the land.  Stay on the trail’s narrow pathway.  When crews meet, the one climbing uphill has the right of way.  If passing crews can’t pass, the downhill crew should get off the trail.  When meeting a crew on horseback, the un-mounted crew gets off the trail, usually to the down hill side, to avoid spooking the horses.
  1. Maintain a ten-foot spacing: The spacing between crewmembers is very important.  Everyone should be separated by about four or five paces (about 10 feet).  This gives each hiker a good view of the environment, which is much better than “boot and backpack” watching.  In addition, a ten-foot spacing helps assure the Crew Chief always has contact with ALL crew members.
  1. The Rule of Four: In case of emergency, the Rule of Four applies.  That is, if it is decided to send a team for help, the team must be composed of four members including an adult.  Best case is to have a CPR/First Aid person and adult with each party.  Note that the Rule of Four always applies – for example, when going for water at a source removed from your trail camp.
  1. Mastering the breaks is an absolute: There are three types of breaks – two minutes to catch your breath, five minutes to replenish your energy, and twenty minutes if the crew can’t get going in five.  Heavy breathing is the clue when oxygen is the problem.  Usually this kicks in at high altitudes.  When out of oxygen, a short two-minute break lets you catch your breath and get going.  If the crew is tired and needs an energy break, take five.  If the crew can’t get going in five minutes you should continue the break for another fifteen, a total of twenty minutes.  In the past, the reason cited was acid builds up in the muscles after five minutes or so, and you need additional down time to avoid complications (cramping) resulting from the acid build up.  This anecdotal reason may or may not be true, but getting going in five rather than waiting the extra 15 minutes is a time-proven technique to motivate stragglers.  So think OXYGEN – 2 minutes, ENERGY – 5 minutes, FULL REST – 20 minutes.
  1. Religiously time your breaks: All crew members stick together during breaks (except of course those using “the facilities,” which are well off the trail and away from the others.)  The Crew Chief should designate a Break Master who times the breaks with a watch.  Timing prevents two minutes from turning into a half hour, which is a real moral killer.
  1. Caterpillar hiking: When going up difficult hills use the “caterpillar” method of hiking.  It is an outstanding way to keep the crew moving and at the same time everyone gets a short break.  The caterpillar method of hiking will be covered during the Watchu Mountain Adventure.
  1. “I need a break”: Anyone in the crew can call for a two, five, or “caterpillar” break whenever they need it. They simply call out “I need two!” or “I need the caterpillar”.  The Crew Chief decides if a five-minute break should be extended to twenty.  Of course, the Chief does this in consultation with the crew members, usually an “I’m not” answer to the question “Is anyone not ready?” at the end of a five-minute break.
  1. Do not hike on roads:  Never hike on a road when a footpath or hiking trail is available.  Hiking on roads is dangerous, often longer, often much more difficult, always hotter, and never as much fun.  Resist the urge of the Scouts to take to the road.

Check out the Hiking and Caterpillar Hiking videos in the On the Trail section of the Training Videos page of the Watchu Experience Web site for additional information and demonstration of several of the above points.

The Watchu Mountain Adventure includes an 8-mile hike that will allow you to practice the above points.  One key difference between hiking in New Jersey and at Philmont is that the Watchu hike is in on a network of trails with various blazes to identify which is which, while at Philmont all trails are unblazed.  Trail junctions there “should” have either a new style post with UTM coordinates routed into the sides, or an old style post with arrows pointed in each direction with the name of the camp or feature.  Either will allow you to identify where you are on your navigation map.


News Flash:  To help train your crew for the New Mexico mountain rains, a hard rain has been arranged during the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  Be prepared!


Watchu Mountain Adventure “Fast Pass” Check-in:  Remember Tuesday evening, 7:00 to 8:00pm at the Council office in Cedar Knolls is your chance to save you and your crew valuable time by having your crew’s Watchu Passport certified for “Fast Pass” Check-in at the Watchu Mountain Adventure.


Bonus Tips:  Always kick the heel of your foot back into the heel of your boot before tying your bootlaces.  Next, as you lace up your boots, stop at the ankle and wind your laces together twice like a double overhand knot.  Now cinch the winding down tight so your foot is locked in to the back of your boot then finish the laces as normal.  What’s the benefit??  It helps keep your toes from being squashed into the toe box of your boot which will cause your toes to hurt on downhill hikes and there is lots of downhill at Philmont.  This helps keep your feet healthy and free from blisters on your sensitive toes.  Remember—your feet are your only means of transportation on a hike so take very good care of them!.

And remember to trim your toenails just prior to departure from home.


Itinerary Data:  The Watchu Trail Planning team will use each crew’s assigned itinerary to design your Watchu Mountain Experience.  It will also be used to identify backcountry camp rendezvous possibilities with other Watchu crews.  The following are confirmed itinerary assignments that have been reported to Chief Watchu – please let us know of any errors.


Crew Trek Choice Crew Trek Choice
628R1 22 1 628R3 1 5
628R2 25 5 o 628R4 33 1
630L1 22 1 630L3 * 28 4
630L2 20 1 630L4 * 31 2
710G 11 2
712L1 * 4 3 712L3 10 1
712L2 * 24 1 712L4 25 4
714U1 4 1 714U3 4 1
714U2 * 22 2 714U4 33 1
716O1 15 2 716O3 * 10 1
716O2 17 3 716O4 28
727Z1 16 1 727Z3 21 3
727Z2 13 1

*Arrival plans confirmation NOT forwarded.


Phil Fact:  From the April 2009 edition of the Philmont Staff Association’s High Country magazine, the Philmont livestock count at the end of 2008 was:


Cattle: 378 head(13 bulls, 170 cows, 101 heifers,

89 steer calves, 5 steers 1-year or older)

Horses: 264
Buffalo: 139
Burros:  ??? – apparently the State of New Mexico doesn’t care enough about the humble burros to require that their count be reported…

Philmont uses two brands for its livestock – the “Bar P Crazy S” for cattle and the “Slash Crazy S” for horses.


Hiking is a team sport,

Lawrence “Boss” Sanchez
Hawkeye and Philmont Ranches
Cowboy with 40 years of service

WG40 – Watchu Mountain Adventure Information

Included in this message:

  • Details of the Watchu Mountain Adventure (WMA)
  • WMA “Fast Pass” Check-in
  • Tour and Activity Plans
  • Notable guests expected at the WMA
  • “Top Tip” coming!
  • Trek assignment chart – information needed from Crews 630L4, 710G, 712L1, 714U2 and 716O1
  • Philmont Navigational Maps

Watchu Mountain Adventure Information

The following is a re-cap of the information provided at the March Briefing about the upcoming Watchu Mountain Adventure.

  1. Where:  Camp Wheeler at Mt. Allamuchy Scout Reservation.  To get to Mt. Allamuchy Scout Reservation, take Interstate Highway 80 to Exit #25.  Follow the signs to Waterloo Village.  Pass Waterloo Village on the left side of Waterloo Road and the entrance to Mt. Allamuchy will be on the right, about 200 yards west of Waterloo Village and just before the I-80 underpass.  Follow signs to Camp Wheeler and the Watchu Training Center.
  1. When:  5:00pm Friday May 1 through 1:45pm Sunday May 3.
  1. Parking:  Lots will open at 4:55pm on Friday and close at 1:50pm on Sunday.
  1. Parking will be limited. Please arrange for your crew to arrive in as few vehicles as possible.  Use vans or have parents drop your crew off and return for Sunday pickup.
  1. Check-in begins at 5:00pm on Friday; with late arrival through 6:30pm.  The Watchu Trail of Discovery begins upon arrival and completing check-in.  Please arrange your work schedule to arrive as early as possible.  Come earlier rather than later to avoid the congested traffic on Interstate 80.  To check-in, you must have:
  • Your crew’s Watchu_Passport.
  • One copy of your crew’s completed Watchu Crew Roster form (if not turned in the night of Fast Past certification).  This copy will not be returned to you.
  • Philmont Medical Records for all crew members.  All Medical Records will be returned to you on Sunday.
  • Your crew’s Council Tour and Activity Plan (only required for crews from outside Patriots’ Path Council).

If your crew’s Watchu Passport has been “Fast Pass” certified by the Contingent Registrar (see the requirements at bottom of the Passport) you will be off on the Trail of Discovery.  However, if you are not “Fast Pass” certified, your check-in will continue and the status of each item on your crew’s Watchu Passport will be reviewed:

  • All crew members must be up to date with their payments (through February, not necessarily the April payment.)  If any are not, the unpaid balance must be paid.
  • Status of BSA registration for all crew members.
  • Status of BSA uniforms for all crew members.
  • Complete and turn in Watchu Wilderness Pledge form
  • Have and show Youth Protection cards or certificates for all advisors.
  • Have and show CPR and Wilderness First Aid cards or certificates.
  • Have and show Weather Hazard Training cards or certificates.
  • Status of BSA Swim Test for all crew members.
  • Have and show Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat cards.
  • Have and show completed Rafting Release / Permission forms for all crew members.
  • Have and show completed Blue Sky Adventures Releases for all crew members.
  • Status of Photo IDs for all crew members.
  • Provide a photocopy of the completed Philmont Talent Release form (N/A for 2015).
  1. Equipment: Bring ALL equipment outlined in your Guidebook to Adventure.  Patriots’ Path Council will NOT distribute ANY equipment.  You MUST bring ALL “Your Personal Equipment,” all “Equipment Provided by Crew,” and especially all “Equipment issued at Philmont” listed in your Guidebook, including your crew dining tarp with poles, tents for all crew members, toilet paper, crew cooking gear including pots, dish washing material, bear bags and ropes, and a plastic trash bag.  Check out the Bear Bags video in the On the Trail section of the Training Videos page on the Watchu Experience Web site to see how to hang your smellables when setting up camp Friday night.
  1. Fuel: 22 ounces of Coleman fuel (white gas) will be provided to each crew.  Do NOT transport fuel in stoves or fuel bottles – of fuel before leaving home.  22 ounces will be much more than enough for the weekend, and any unused fuel will be collected at check-out.
  1. Food: Philmont trail meals will be provided for the entire program, except Friday supper.  Your crew must bring a Friday evening bag supper or eat before arriving on Friday, as there will be no time to cook a meal.  If you eat on the road, it is suggested you get most of the way to Mount Allamuchy before stopping to eat in the vicinity (Ledgewood, Netcong, or Hackettstown).
  1. Water: The Watchu Mountain well is a safe source of water and does not need to be treated.  Please help save time – all crew members should arrive with full water bottles.  The well is within a half mile of all camp sites, and you will need water containers to transport crew water from it to your site for Saturday’s dinner.
  1. Trash: At Philmont crews must carry trash (trail meals packaging) until passing through a staffed camp which will accept it for disposal.  All trash at the Watchu Mountain Adventure is to be carried in your packs and packed out on Sunday for disposal at home.  Check out the Trash Compacting video in the On the Trail section of the Training Videos page on the Watchu Experience Web site for some pointers on how to minimize its bulk.
  1. You may use rotating or permanent (refer to WG26) crew assignments. Before arriving on Friday your crew should have selected all the permanent youth leadership positions – Crew Chief, Chaplain Aide, Wilderness Pledge Guia, Navigator, and Crew Reporter(s).  There will be briefings for each of these positions on Shakedown Mesa during the weekend – check the schedule for times.  Also, there will be ample free time in the schedule for you and your crew to work on crew member responsibilities, crew development, trek planning, and required crew skills (cooking, etc.).  This is your weekend – make the most of it.
  1. Uniforms: Complete official BSA uniform for all, with nameplate for advisors (sometimes unofficially called Class A).  Your entire crew will report to Watchu Mountain in complete official BSA uniforms.  Check the Uniform Fact Sheet in your Crew Member Guide or on the Web site.  Advisors, please wear your Watchu nameplate on the right pocket flap.  If you have an OA pocket flap patch, the nameplate goes above the Boy Scouts of America designation over the right pocket.
  1. Money: All members of your crew must be up to date with scheduled Philmont payments to Patriots’ Path Council.  Alert your crew members to bring cash if they intend to buy extra Patriots’ Path Council Philmont patches, expedition T-shirts, expedition hats, extra Philmont food, etc.  The Watchu Mountain Outfitters Trading Post will be open at posted times throughout the weekend, and is stocked with great backcountry items.  Check the Trading Post on the Web site for prices and details.
  1. Weather: Philmont training is best in the rain.  Pray for rain during the Watchu Mountain Adventure!  The spring weather will bring out an assortment of friendly bugs so be prepared with your bug repellent.

Watchu will be a simulated Philmont adventure.  The intent is to give your crew an opportunity to evaluate the crew’s “Philmont readiness” in a Philmont-like setting.  The crew should “find the gaps” between where the crew is and where they need to be to guarantee a great trek.  After the Watchu Mountain Adventure there will be about fifty days until the first lift-off to close the gaps.  Good luck and have fun!


Watchu Mountain Adventure Fast Pass Check-in:  Fast pass check-in will save you and your crew valuable time during the very busy Friday night of the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  Check your Watchu_Passport for details.  It is not too late to qualify for Fast Pass.  Watchu Staff members will be at the Council office in Cedar Knolls Tuesday evening, April 14, from 7:00 to 8:00pm, to certify your crew for Fast Pass Check-in.


Don’t forget:  Crews from outside Patriots’ Path Council must have a Tour and Activity Plan filed with their local council for the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  A Tour and Activity Plan may be required for other crew shakedowns or training outings.

Advisor Question: When we take a group of scouts from our troop on a hike we file a Tour and Activity Plan with our council, signed by a Scoutmaster and a troop committee member.  Who should sign the form for our crew since we are from several different troops?

Answer:  Any two advisors accompanying the crew on the training event can sign the Tour and Activity Plan.  And Patriots’ Path Council will file Tour and Activity Plans for all Patriots’ Path contingent crews for the trip to and from Philmont.  The bottom line for Advisors is that the Tour and Activity Plan guarantees your event is sanctioned by the BSA and all associated rights and privileges, such as accident insurance, extend to BSA registered participants.


Good News!!  The Watchu Team is happy and excited to confirm that a number of guests from around the country will be joining you on Watchu Mountain:

From Colorado – Dwight Stein, former Manager of the Philmont Logistics Department, will be available all weekend to assist you with your trek planning.  Dwight’s many years on staff in a variety of positions has provided him with a knowledge of the Ranch that he is happy to share.

From Florida – Rob Pardue of Blue Sky Adventures is bursting with great Colorado touring plans.  He says he can’t wait to share the good news with you and your crew.

From Philmont – Mark Anderson, Director of Program, Philmont Scout Ranch, and Eric Martinez, Chief Ranger, are coming to New Jersey to check out the Watchu Mountain Adventure firsthand.  While their focus will be with the staff and observing the program, there should be opportunities for some one-on-one time with them during the weekend.

From Philmont via Paramus NJ padre Father Don Hummel, a Philmont Chaplain, will arrive on his burro in plenty of time to conduct the very important briefing for Chaplain Aides on Saturday morning.  The position of Chaplain Aide is critical to the success of your trek.  Recall from prior Watchu Grams describing how to organize your crew, the Chaplain Aide serves as an assistant to the Crew Leader (Crew Chief).

From New York City – the briefing for Crew Reporters on Saturday morning will be led by Scott Berger, Associate Director of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.  He is going to have some great tips for your crew’s news correspondent(s).

From South Carolina – Saturday night’s Trail Planning sessions will be coordinated by Watchu’s own nationally-known Philmont trail expert Al Thomson, who will be available throughout the weekend to answer questions about your Philmont trek.


Top Tip coming!  Shortly we will send out a Watchu Gram, titled “Hiking is a Team Sport,” which has been voted the Top Tip by advisors over and over again.  The Watchu Team strongly advises all crew members to read it, understand it, and internalize it.  We expect you and your crew to put the tip into action at the Watchu Mountain Adventure.  Be ready for a pop quiz on it, maybe with prizes.


Watchu reminder:  When you receive the e-mail from Philmont confirming your assigned itinerary, forward it to Chief Watchu (at chiefwatchu@watchu.org) with a note indicating which choice (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th) it was.  Your trek assignment is needed so that the Watchu Trail Planners can prepare the staff schedule and will be used to design your crew-specific Watchu Mountain Adventure.

Crews that have already responded – please double check your information in the chart and advise immediately if there is an error.  Thank you for your prompt attention to forwarding your trek assignment – with online selection now in April, there is less time for the Trail Planning staff to prepare for you.

Not time critical, but important – if the chart indicates we have not received the forwarding of your “Arrival Info” confirmation from Philmont (PPC crews only), please send it to Chief Watchu.


Crew Trek Choice Crew Trek Choice
628R1 22 1 628R3 1 5
628R2 * 25 5 o 628R4 33 1
630L1 22 1 630L3 * 28 4
630L2 20 1 630L4 *
712L1 * 712L3 10 1
712L2 * 24 712L4 * 25 4
714U1 4 1 714U3 4 1
714U2 * 714U4 33
716O1 * 716O3 * 10 1
716O2 * 17 3 716O4 28
727Z1 16 1 727Z3 21 3
727Z2 13 1

o original 3rd choice was available

*Arrival plans confirmation NOT forwarded yet – each crew MUST individually submit their arrival plans using the Itinerary Selection page before a May 7 deadline; it is NOT handled on a contingent basis.


Philmont Navigational Maps:  Once you know your itinerary you will need to order your land navigation maps – the Sectional Map(s) listed for your trek in your Philmont TREKS – Itinerary Guide.  Place your order with the Tooth of Time Traders at www.toothoftimetraders.com.  That Web site has lots of other great stuff available, check it out.  Purchasing at least two complete sets of maps is recommended so that if your crew must separate on the trail, each group has a map.


Phil Fact:  The Dolds Brother’s Warehouse in Cimarron was built in 1848 by M.R. Whiteman as a freighting depot for the Andres Daws stage line, and was one of many warehouses and supply stores that were in much demand during the heyday of the Santa Fe Trail.  The original adobe structure, severely damaged by fire in 1939, is mentioned in Zane Grey’s book Fighting Caravans, written while he was staying at the St. James Hotel.


The Watchu Mountain Adventure is but a few weeks away!  Can you feel the spirit?

M. R. Whiteman
Cimarron, New Mexico Territory