Philmont Council Contingents


The Philmont experience is all about "programs".  At the backcountry campsites, crews will participate in programs.  Different programs are offered at different campsites.  The Philmont programs include:

This table does not reflect all the 2014 programs.  Refer to the Program Survey document for a more complete listing.

  • Archaeology:  The Ponil country in the northern section is rich in the prehistoric background of the American Indian.  Your crew can help reconstruct Philmont history while participating in this fascinating program and learning about Indians who inhabited this area.

  • Archaeologists and staff explain and supervise the program in the North Ponil Canyon.  Activities may include assisting with excavations or preparing specimens and artifacts.  Near Anasazi Camp, you can visit the site of a well-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex footprint.  This is the world’s only confirmed fossil footprint of a T-Rex.

  • Archery - 3 Dimensional:  More than shooting at round targets, 3-D archery includes a trail with full size animal targets.

  • Astronomy:  Learn about our solar system up close and personal.  Gaze through a professional quality telescope to see the rings of Saturn, distant stars, and moons.

  • Baldy Mountain Hike:  “Baldy Mountain”, named for its rocky, barren top, is a favorite climb for those who camp in the Baldy Town vicinity.  Dotted with old gold mines, Baldy is the highest peak on Philmont—12,441 feet.  The view from its top is unobstructed and spectacular.

  • Blacksmithing:  The ring of hammer striking iron echoes through the mountains around French Henry, Black Mountain, and Cypher’s Mine camps.  A staff blacksmith will acquaint you with a working forge, blower, leg vice and hardie, and an array of tongs used to grip red-hot iron.  The blacksmith will discuss and demonstrate techniques for firing the forge, working metal, and tempering the finished product.

  • Burro Packing:  No animal is more closely associated with the colorful history of the Southwest than the burro.  Burro packing methods are explained and demonstrated at Ponil and Miranda.  Your tents and food may be packed on burros using a diamond hitch.  Burros are available for use on the trail in the northern portion of the ranch, starting or ending at Ponil and Miranda.  Burro traps (holding pens for overnight stops) are located at Ponil, Pueblano, Miranda, Elkhorn, and Baldy Skyline.  Hay for feeding is provided at these camps.  If you decide to pack burros, you will be able to pack them just as the miners once did.

  • Burro Racing:  Thrills galore await you in catching, packing, and racing a burro in competition with other crews.  This activity provides a memorable and fun experience at Harlin.

  • Campfire (evening):  Throughout the backcountry, various staffed camps conduct special evening campfires and programs.  Facts about the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant come alive and the influence of Waite Phillips and his gift of Philmont to the BSA provides for special inspiration.

Pueblano and Crater Lake campfires relate to tales of the Old West, logging, and the history of the land and loggers that worked for the Continental Tie & Lumber Company in the area that is now Philmont. 

At Beaubien and Clark’s Fork, the focus is on the Old West with its songs and stories and true cowboy atmosphere.

At Cypher’s Mine the story of gold will become memorable as an interpreter relates the life and adventures of miners of yesteryear at the nightly “STOMP”.

Ponil has a very unique “play” in its Cantina every night!  Have some root beer while you enjoy it.

  • Cantina:  Ponil and Abreu offer the opportunity for a thirst-quenching root beer in a Western or Mexican-style cantina.  You can buy a pitcher of root beer for your whole crew or a cup for yourself.

  • Challenge Events:  A series of “ropes” activities that will test the teamwork, skill, and resourcefulness of your crew awaits you at Dan Beard, Head of Dean, and Urraca Camps.  While the challenges can be met by every crew, the real contest is with yourself.  Did you do your best?  How would you do better next time?

  • Chuck Wagon Breakfast:  Ponil features a special breakfast for your crew.  Members of your crew will help prepare the meal. 

  • Chuck Wagon Dinner:  The programs at Clark’s Fork, Beaubien, and Ponil include a special chuck wagon dinner for many crews that pass through.  Members of your crew will help prepare these meals. 

  • Continental Tie & Lumber Co.:  The exciting legend of the loggers with the Continental Tie and Lumber Company will come to life through the staff at Pueblano and Crater Lake.  They will share their skills of spartree “pole” climbing and the use of wood tools and instruments.  Competition in exciting logging events such as log toss, cross-cut sawing, and log tongs races will challenge your crew.

  • Cowboy Action Shooting:  Take part in this exciting program offered at Ponil.  Shoot pistols like the ones used in the old west in competition with other campers.  Watch the staff, in period cowboy attire, stage shootout’s with period firearms.

  • Demonstration Forest:  Between Hunting Lodge and Clarks Fork, near Cito Reservoir, a Demonstration Forest has been developed with the support of the American Tree Farm Organization.  Be sure your crew takes time to learn about the forests and various forest practices taking place at Philmont.

  • Dutch Oven Dessert:  Help the staff at Zastrow prepare a great Dutch Oven dessert for you and your crew to enjoy following the Rededication to Scouting Ceremony.  A great way to cap off an evening at Philmont.

  • Fishing, Fly Tying, Lodge Tour:  The Rayado and Agua Fria streams in the south and Ponil stream in the north offer excellent trout fishing.  Though not large, these trout are wary and exciting to catch.  A little time and skill spent along these streams may yield you a delicious trout supper or breakfast.  Fly rods may be checked out at Fish Camp.

At Fish Camp, a program counselor with material and equipment will show you how to tie your own trout flies.  The thrill of catching a trout on a fly you have tied is hard to beat.  Near Fish Camp and Abreu a catch and release program is in effect.  If you don’t know how to remove the hook from your fish or how to clean it, a program counselor will demonstrate the correct methods.  A tour of Waite Phillips’ fishing lodge including a narrative of area history is also offered.  All fishermen are required to have a current New Mexico state fishing license.

  • Folk Weather Forecasting:  Learn how the early ranchers and homesteaders predicted the weather.  It is offered at the historic Ring Place in the Valle Vidal.

  • Geocaching:  Geocaching combines map reading and GPS use to find specific points where you can record your visit.  Geocaching will take place at Zastrow and at a trail camp, Slate Hill Heck, located near Dean Cow.  Instruction for the Slate Hill Heck course will take place at Dean Cow.

  • Gold Mining & Panning:  Gold is still found in almost all streams on Philmont, which was once the scene of lucrative gold-mining operations.  Mine shafts, sluice boxes, and placer mines dot the mountainsides and valleys.  Cypher’s Mine and French Henry provide you with the chance to go into a real gold mine.  Not working now, the mines are carefully shored so you can tour the mine tunnels.  Bring your jacket and flashlight for the tour.  Learn about adventures that were experienced during the fascinating and colorful past as determined miners sought their fortunes in these historic mountains.  When you find some “color,” ask one of the staff miners for some cellophane tape so you can take your discovery home to show others your success.  Gold pans are available at Cypher’s Mine and French Henry.

  • Homesteading:  At Crooked Creek and Rich Cabin your crew will visit a working homestead.  The staff will help you learn early day skills such as railsplitting, shingle making, primitive farming, log structure construction, and care of farmyard animals.  In keeping with the southwestern spirit of the program, you will be instructed in preparing a special Mexican meal at Abreu.

  • Horse Rides:  Philmont owns and maintains a remuda of 300 western horses with strings located at Beaubien, Clark’s Fork, and Ponil.  All three camps offer exhilarating mountain horse rides in the morning or afternoon.  Be prompt for your scheduled ride.  Reservations are made at Logistics Services on a first-come, first-served basis when you arrive at Philmont.

Philmont wranglers are courteous but strict.  They make certain everyone stays in line and maintain the pace to avoid endangering members of your crew.  Even skilled riders cannot be permitted to ride at a different pace or away from the group.  Please cooperate with the wranglers by following instructions for a safe and enjoyable ride.  For your personal safety, you will wear a helmet, which will be provided.  Ponchos and maps should not be taken since they may frighten the horses.  Wear long trousers on your horse ride to protect your legs.  Persons weighing over 200 pounds will not be permitted to ride.

  • Jicarilla Apache Life:  Apache Springs offers a unique program featuring the lifestyle of the Jicarilla Apache.  You will see how the Jicarilla's worked and played.  A replica Jicarilla village has been erected for this program.  Teepees are furnished with realistic fireplaces, back rests, robes, hides, and baskets for you to see.  You may also enjoy a “Jicarilla sauna” in a sweat lodge followed by a dousing with cold water.

  • Kit Carson Museum Tour:  Legendary mountain man Kit Carson lived on what is now the southeast corner of Philmont.  Take the opportunity to visit his home compound at Rayado and learn about life along the Santa Fe Trail in 1800’s New Mexico.  In addition to visiting his home, you can shoot blackpowder rifles and throw tomahawks.

  • Land Navigation, GPS Technology:  At the historic Zastrow Camp your crew will learn the latest techniques of land navigation using Map, Compass, and G.P.S.  Discover how a knowledge of U.T.M. (Universal Transverse Mercator) and latitude/longitude will improve your navigation skills on your trek.  The evening program features a Dutch oven “feast” and a Rededication to Scouting Values Ceremony.

  • Leave No Trace Camping:  Wildland ethic depends upon attitude and awareness rather than on rules and regulations.  While at Dan Beard you will have the opportunity to learn how to enjoy wildland with respect; to hike, camp, eat meals, and dispose of trash without leaving a scar or trace.

  • Lodge/Cabin Tours:  Fish Camp and Hunting Lodge were two of Waite Phillip’s backcountry cabins where he entertained famous people.  You will have the opportunity to experience the way they “roughed it” in the backcountry in the 1930’s.  At Rich Cabins, you will see how early homesteaders lived.

  • Mexican Dinner:  In keeping with the southwestern spirit of the program at Abreu, you will be instructed in preparing a special Mexican meal.

  • Mexican Homestead:  At Abreu, you will become acquainted with the art of constructing southwestern architecture.  After mixing a batch of adobe mud, using a special formula of clay, straw, water, and sand, you pack it into wooden forms to mold bricks.  When the bricks have dried from the solar energy of the New Mexico sun, they are used for construction.

  • Mountain Biking:  Enjoy one of America’s fastest growing sports at Whiteman Vega Camp as your crew takes a wilderness Mountain Bike Ride into the most remote areas of the beautiful Valle Vidal section of the Carson National Forest.

  • Mountain Man Rendezvous:  Catch some of the flavor of a mountain man rendezvous while at Miranda.  Find out why rendezvous were held and what went on.  See demonstrations of the mountain man way of life and participate in some of these skills and contests such as “hawk” throwing and muzzle-loading rifle.

  • Muzzle Loading Rifle:  You will use powder, patch, ball, ramrod, and cap to actually load and shoot .50 or .58 caliber muzzle-loading rifles.  This exciting program is offered at Black Mountain, Clear Creek, and Miranda.

  • Post Civil War Settlers:  This interpretive program is based upon skills utilized by the settlers who came to New Mexico following the Civil War.  Shoot .58 caliber black powder rifles and learn blacksmithing from soldiers from Ft. Union, New Mexico in this interpretive camp.  The only access to Black Mountain Camp is on horse or foot; it is a perfect setting for this unique program.

  • Railroading:  The Cimarron and Northwest Railroad (owned by the Continental Tie & Lumber Company) is being reconstructed at Metcalf Station.  Learn about the impact of railroads on the history of New Mexico and the United States and function as a section gang laying ties and rails and swinging spike mauls to tie them down.

  • Rock Climbing & Rappelling:  This fascinating and challenging sport is a favorite of all Philmont campers.  You’ll scale a steep pitch and rappel down a sheer cliff.  Philmont has carefully selected three areas to conduct this program where the rocks are safe and practical, but a distinct “Class Five” challenge.

Under the supervision of expert climbers, you will climb using your hands and feet while protected by rope, carabineers, and helmet.  Safety is always stressed and practiced.

Rock climbing at Philmont is restricted to the three locations, Miner’s Park, Cimarroncito, and Dean Cow, and is only done under the supervision of Philmont rock climbing staff.

  • Rocky Mountain Fur Co.:  At Clear Creek, several veteran trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (portrayed by Philmont staff members) have established an outpost camp.  Trapping was their way of life; however, it is not practiced at Philmont today.  See traps like those used to catch beaver, muskrat, raccoon, and bear.  Hear about how they cured the hides and see trade goods that they used to purchase food and supplies.

  • Search & Rescue/Wilderness Medicine:  This exciting informative program at Carson Meadows & Seally Canyon Camps will enable your crew to “Be Prepared” to meet emergency first aid needs in a true wilderness environment.  Every year many people become lost in the outdoors.  Scouts are often called upon to help search for these people.  Your crew will enjoy learning how to correctly conduct an organized search.

  • Shooting/Reloading - .30-06:  This program offers a review of firearms and tips for successful and safe shooting.  Wildlife conservation and game management are discussed.

  • Metallic silhouette targets provide a challenging experience at Sawmill’s .30-06 rifle range.  Each participant will reload and fire 3 rounds; additional rounds may be purchased at 3 for $1.00.

  • Shotgun Shooting/Reloading - 12 Gauge:  Shooting trap takes skill, but with some instruction and practice, you may find that you can hit clay birds.  Each participant at Harlan will reload and fire 3 rounds; additional rounds may be purchased at 3 for $1.00.

  • Tooth of Time:  A number of itineraries offer the chance to climb the 9,003-foot high Philmont molar that rises abruptly 2,500 feet from the valley floor.  A landmark along the old Santa Fe Trail, the Tooth will give you a memorable view of Philmont.

  • Western Lore/Branding:  Philmont is an operating western cattle ranch.  Cowboys still watch over cattle on horseback and drive them from their winter pasture on the plains to high mountain meadows for summer grazing.  While you hike the trails, look for the whiteface Hereford cattle.  Though not wild, they are best observed from a distance.  A cow with a calf may become dangerous if she feels her calf is threatened.  To chase or attempt to rope these animals is foolish and can result in serious injury.  Watch and photograph them if you wish.

An organized western lore program is offered at Beaubien, Ponil, and Clark’s Fork.  Horse riding, campfires, and branding are all part of the western lore program.  Philmont cowboys will tell you about New Mexico’s cattle industry.  Using authentic western lariats, they will show you how to rope.  The cowboy’s garb and equipment will be named and their uses explained.  After a hearty chuck wagon dinner, which you help prepare, you’ll gather around a campfire under the western sky for an evening of songs, guitar playing, and stories of the Old West at Beaubien or Clark’s Fork.  Ponil campers may gather at the cantina.

  • Mt. Phillips:  At nearly 12,000 feet high, Mt. Phillips towers over the beautiful southwest section of Philmont country.  This peak is a rugged climb with fabulous views of Eagle Nest Lake, Wheeler Peak (highest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet elevation), and most of Philmont.

  • Trail Peak:  A hike up Black Mountain will give you the opportunity to visit the remains of the B-25 Liberator bomber that crashed here in 1942 killing all 7 crewmembers.  Some of the wreckage still remains, including a wing and propeller, and because of its location, it is the world's most visited airplane crash site.

  • Black Mountain:  Black Mountain will test your stamina and give you breathtaking views of surrounding terrain.  For a real challenge, the trail up from Black Mountain Camp is rated as one of the toughest in New Mexico!