“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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