Whispering of the Pine

“Philmont does something to people—it is not something that can be put into words easily. Something ‘‘gets into your blood.’’ A love for the land, the atmosphere, the people—all these work together in you to make Philmont an experience that you can never forget. The base of that experience is the presence of God—an awareness that all we have and all we offer to others comes from God. The brotherhood that we share as God’s children and as Scouts brings us to a sense of peace, a feeling that in some strange way, everything is all right. In that sense, we can call Philmont a ‘‘Scouting Paradise,’’ a glimpse of that ‘‘Paradise’’ all of us are called to and will one day experience.”
This passage is taken from the Chaplains Aide booklet “Eagles Soaring High”.  It is the passage that leads to the Day 9 relection.  Since we were on a Short Trek, our Chaplains aid skipped around a bit, so that the reflections matched up with the places that we were on the trail.
The title of the relection is “Country that I love”.  So for those of you playing along at home.  The reflections center around the Philmont grace and the Philmont Hymn.
What I found impressive at Philmont was the never-ending use of the theme.  A love of Philmont.  It echoed in every part of the trek.  The Wilderness Pledge not only reinforced the ideas of Leave No Trace and Good Stewardship, but a willingness to protect Philmont.  The Tour of the Philmont Villa tells the story of Waite Phillips and his generosity to the Scouts.  It concludes with the question, although never spoken, but what will you leave behind?  How will your generosity manifest?  The Philmont grace reminds us of the good things that we have in life and that we need to be thankful for everything that has been given to us.  The conservation project leaves not only our mark on Philmont, but makes it better for Scouts that will one day pass on the trail that we lay before them, just as Scouts before us groomed the trail so that our Philmont experience was just that much better.  And the daily devotions led by the Chaplains Aide remind us as we sit among the Aspen and Purple Mountains that Philmont is greater than ourselves and truly is Scouting’s Paradise.
So when the passage tells us that “Philmont does something to people”… it certainly does.
I can honestly say that I have left Philmont, but Philmont has not left me.  Now it’s back to the daily grind and loving being back home with my family, but the Whispering of the pines still echo in my mind.
So what does Philmont do to people?  It changes them in many ways.  Some of the changes may not happen for a while, some came home different, but everyone changed.  They all tested themselves in one way or another.  They all found strength on the trail.  They all learned a skill or sharpened one.  They all found peace in the mountain.  They all had a great adventure.
Some fell in love with Philmont right away, while others took the whole trek, some are even still reflecting on how Philmont has made a change in their lives.  And yep, some still resist the whisper, but it’s there.
I am fortunate to have been able to go to Philmont, I am fortunate to be a Scoutmaster, and I am lucky to have walked the Country that I love.  Some of the Scouts find it hard to think beyond the next climb, they find it difficult to open their eyes and ears to what is around them.  The ‘coolest’ of Scouts will hear the whisper of the pines… it’s just a matter of time.  For the seven Scouts of 810-N2 and the other Advisor, I know we changed.  I find myself whistling the Philmont hymn and I catch myself singing ‘the Tooth of time’s been chewin’ on me’ as I go about my daily life.  I have relived the climb up to Shaefers peak and laugh to myself when I think about our Burro racing team at Harlan.  The walk in the rain from Ute Gulch into Cimarroncito and the bear sighting just outside of Hunting lodge all bring a smile to my face.  But I knew we had changed when I watched the crew as they sang the Philmont hymn at the closing campfire.  The mood was somber, but the look of satisfaction as they all sang together for the last time as a crew.  The next morning as they proudly wore their Arrowhead award, being marked among the Scouts that have completed a Philmont trek!  Yep, they changed. 
I look forward to watching these Scouts grow and take what they learned at Philmont and use it in life and in our Troop.  They are better people for the experience and I know that Philmont is a part of them.
If you have never been.. go… if you have been.. you know what I mean.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Categories: Backpacking, High Adventure, Philmont, Service, Values | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Whispering of the Pine

  1. Allan Green

    Our troop did this in 2005 when we took 8 scouts and 4 adults at the end of June on one of the middle treks, 16, I think. Being from Oklahoma, we had no way to train effectively for what was waiting for us at Philmont. We did the Hiking MB and the Backpacking MB in preparation. I went daily and climbed the stairs of our 12 story building once or twice per day, and when I got there, I still got winded and tired out after 15 minutes of climbing the Philmont trails. (It makes sense now, as I calculate that climbing 12 stories, at perhaps 12 to 15 feet per floor, is at most 180 feet. Not great when you face 1000 + climbs through the mountain trails.)

    Our last day was a hike over the tooth of time, to the base camp below. We stopped at lunch time to climb the tooth. It turned out to be a huge pile of boulders. Of course my scouts rushed up the rock pile. Two of the adults said “no way.” I followed the boys, as usual, and soon lost sight of them. As I was huffing and puffing from boulder to boulder, in constant fear of falling from the rock and breaking my leg, I remember thinking to myself, “this is the Mecca of scouting???” The Tooth of Time, the symbol I have been seeing on scouting literature for ever! I groaned. I finally got to the top where the boys were sitting and eating lunch and shooing off the mini bears. I sat down on the top boulder, and looked around. As i turned my head from the left to the right I could see the most beautiful panoramic view of the valley below, with the Santa Fe Trail lumbering off into the distance, and with the base camp visible as almost just a speck down below, and the hawks gliding on the air below us. I just moved my lips, and out came “WOW!”

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