Boy Scout Troop 68, Melrose, MN

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Boy Scout Troop 68's
1992 Philmont Journal
A tale of a crew who mastered the Philmont wilderness... almost.

Page 1


 The following is a journal of a trek completed by ten Boy Scouts and two adult leaders of Melrose Troop 68. The trek took place at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. The journal  begins over a year before the trip actually takes place because I wanted to let those who read this know what is involved in planning a trip like this.
 Why should I keep a journal in the first place? There are a few reasons for this. One, it provides an account of an adventure that for many boys happens only once in a lifetime. It will be fun to look back on this and remember the mistakes made and the great times that we shared.
 It will act as a historic record. I, and any leaders that follow me, may read this journal years from now and perhaps learn a few things from it. What do we want to do again? What do we wish to avoid?
 Another reason for going through all this work is because I have a dream. I have now been a leader of Troop 68 for over 12 years. That represents a lot of fun, excitement, and a few disappointments. Some day I would like to write a book about my scouting adventures. This journal could become a part of that book. I even have a title for it:

(and unfortunately wrote it down.)

 I think it is a neat title. A bit corny perhaps but to the point.
 I hope you enjoy reading the following pages but beware. It contains my thoughts as well as an account of the day to day activities. Some of it certain people may not find to flattering. Too bad. You can write your own journal if you do not like mine.
 You have been warned.......


Philmont 1992
Part 1: A Trip Is Planned    

February 24, 1991

   Today is the day we begin the planning for the next High Adventure trip.  The scouts are having a meeting during which they will plan where they would like to go for their big trip.  Possibilities include Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Florida Sea Bases, canoeing in Minnesota or Maine, white water rafting in Colorado, or whatever else they decide on. 

There are fifteen Scouts that could  possibly show interest in this trip by coming to this meeting.  Of these, only Matt Mohs, Tim Dingmann, Ross Frericks, Tony Beard, and Josh Spoden show up.  The other boys I was hoping would attend were Nathan Blommel, Scott Hollermann, Jason Kraemer, John Massmann, Greg Monroe, Tim Nathe, Peter Orth, Pete Spychalla, Jason Prodinsky, and Jason Terwey.  Of course, a few I really did not expect to come. A couple of them did have other plans.  I was hoping that a few more would have shown their faces.

There was only one real reason for holding this meeting and that was to choose where we would be going.  I was expecting a big debate like the last time we went.  The Scouts argued about were we should go and nobody agreed with anyone.  I was surprised, and pleased, when, with-in only fifteen minutes, they had decided on a destination.

   Philmont Scout Ranch would be that place once again.

March/April/May 1991

   I called Philmont to find out what days were still open for an arrival date.  They have been taking reservations for two months already and I am starting to get a little nervous whether we will be able to get a decent date yet.  Philmont fills up very fast.  There are still a number of spots left toward the end of July and first part of August. Tuesday, July 28, 1992 looks pretty good but I had better talk to the troop first and find out how they feel about it.
   The troop committee and the scouts both agree that this would be a good date so I call to Philmont to make a tentative reservation.  Unfortunately, this date has been filled up.  The next day still has a few spots though, so I sign up for Wednesday, July 29. I have them send me a letter stating what is still open in case the troop does not like this date.  Luckily they do, so I leave our reservation as it is.
   The committee and I have been discussing what requirements the boys will have to meet.  Philmont requires that all boys who attend must be First Class Rank and thirteen years old by January 1 of the year the treks will be taken.  If we stay with these guidelines we will have quite a few scouts who will be eligible to attend.  Twenty-four boys will meet the age requirement.  Sixteen boys are First Class and the other eight could be by the end of the year.
   The problem is that a crew is allowed only twelve members, two of which must be adults (18 years or older).  If we go with one crew we have to limit ourselves to ten scouts.  If we go with two crews we will need four leaders. Both crews may not be on the same trek.
   I would like to see the troop set higher requirements for the scouts to reach if they really want to go.  I suggest to the committee that we set the standards at Star Rank as a minimum and possibly raise the age to fourteen.  If we go with the Star rank then eight are now eligible with a possible fourteen more by the end of the year.  By raising the age to fourteen we would bring the number down to less then 18.
   The committee is not sure what to do, if anything.  They do not commit to anything and table it for a later meeting.
   I guess I may have overstepped my authority at the Court of Honor that we held on Memorial Day. At the end of the meeting, I stated that any scout who wished to go to Philmont must be Star Rank and fourteen years old by the end of the year. We will take the scouts on a first come, first serve basis. They must pay $50.00 when they register to hold their place.  Scouts may begin registering after the meeting.  I should have foreseen the trouble these requirements would cause when there was a younger scout or two that were hoping to go.  But I did not, and made the rules with-out the committee's approval.
   Boy, was I sorry I did that.
   Four scouts did pay the $50.00 that night.  Matt Mohs, Ross Frericks, Jason Kraemer, and Tony Beard did not waste any time.  They have been waiting for me to give the word.

June 1991

   A parent, who also happens to be a committee member, is a bit upset that I set the requirements of the trip at what I did.  Her son was hoping to go.  It also seems that I never told the committee what the Philmont age and rank requirements are.  Some of them had the understanding that 14 and Star were the standards set by the camp, not the ones I wanted.  I felt ever more guilty when she said that she had called the scout service center and found out what the actual requirements were.
   Another point she brought up was if we were going to have a problem with too many scouts wanting to go then maybe we should not let the scouts who had already been to Philmont go on this trip. Then the younger scouts could have the opportunity.  I argued against this idea because several of the older scouts had been looking forward to going to Philmont again.  It was one of the reasons that they had stayed with the troop for as long as they have.
   The committee discussed everything and decided to leave the requirements for this trip at 14 and Star. They would probably change the requirements for the next trip.  Someone mentioned that maybe we should look at having a high adventure trip every two years instead of three.

August 1991

   Nine boys have signed up but two of them may decide to drop out.  Tim Dingmann and Scott Hollermann spent four weeks at summer camp as a counselor in training. It looks as if they have a good chance of being offered positions as staff members next year.  If that happens they will not be able to go to Philmont.  They should know by the end of the year.
   Mary Hanson, our new committee chairperson, still does not agree with the '14 and Star' requirements.  She would like to see the age dropped to 13.  She would also like to see the troop set a tentative schedule for future trips.  Vern Hollermann suggested that we look at planning for the next trip in January 1993, after this trip was over.  The committee agreed.
   Betty Spoden made a motion that we drop the age requirement from fourteen to thirteen since we still have a spot, and possible three spots, still open.  It passed unanimously. The next newsletter stated this change.
   Mary Hanson suggested that there should not be any refunds if a boy signs up and then decides that he no longer wishes to go.  The committee agreed to this and decided that if a scout does drop out he may 'sell' his spot to another scout and thus get his $50.00 back.  The committee agreed to this to keep from getting stuck with paying for a scout's registration fee which happens to be $250.00.  This was also stated in the next newsletter.
   The committee unanimously decided to pay the scoutmaster's registration and transportation costs for the trip.  They felt that he deserves this for all the time he has put into scouting and for the time he will be taking off work to take the boys on this adventure.  The troop will also pay a minimum of $250.00 for the second adult advisor, whoever that may be.  At this time we do not have a second adult registered but we do have a couple of people who have expressed an interest.
   Transportation was a major concern.  Hanson called the Central Minnesota Council scout office. She found out that if we drive a vehicle we could only spend eight hours on the road driving if there would only be one driver per vehicle.  A vehicle with two drivers could spend twelve hours on the road.  We also talked about taking a plane or train. They finally agreed that more information will be needed to make a decision.
 A decision on whether to allow scouts to go to Philmont a second time was  tabled and will be discussed at a future meeting.

September 1991
   The big topic at the committee meeting again was the means of transportation.  Betty Spoden checked into the costs of the various ways to go.  Flying is going to be too expensive.  Train rates are reasonable but we would need to stay a night in Chicago on the trip back or have someone come to pick us up.  Driving down is beginning to look like more of a headache then it would be worth.  They decided that a parent's meeting, with the scouts who would be going, should be held to get their input into which way should be chosen.  The meeting is planned for Monday, October 18, and will begin at 8:00 at St. Mary's School gym.
   We received a letter from Philmont confirming our arrival date and stating that we needed to get $20.00 per person sent in to hold this date.  This fee will be subtracted from the $250.00 registration.

October 1991
   The parent's meeting was held as scheduled.  Every registered scout was represented by a parent.  Mary Hanson and I conducted the meeting.  Betty Spoden reported on the costs and the problems of the different methods of transportation.  It looks as if the total cost per scout (transportation and registration) will come to about $460 if we take the train.  We also discussed what the scouts would need for the trip.
   The scouts overwhelmingly wanted to travel by train.  The parents agreed that this was the best way but did not decide on what to do about the layover in Chicago.
   The excitement is starting to build.  I could tell by the way the scouts are acting.

November 1991
   When the committee met this month we still had a couple of spots that needed filling.  Matt Mohs has decided that he will not be going on this trip.  Tim Dingmann is fairly sure that he will be spending his summer months at summer camp.  Scott Hollermann has not made his decision yet.  Tom Hanson and Corey Spoden are now on the roster.  Al Hanson has agreed to be the second adult leader.  (Al and Tom were a package deal.)  We want to have a full crew of ten scouts.  The committee agreed to drop the eligibility requirements to 13 years old and First Class Rank by the end of the year.
   (A few of the scouts have mentioned to me that they do not like the idea of Al Hanson going along.  They are afraid that he will not let them have any fun during the trip because he is fairly strict in school.  I kind of like the idea of him going along for that very reason.  He will offer a balance to the way I usually handle things, but I still feel a bit of apprehension about Al.  He needs to loosen up a bit more and not be so serious all the time.)
   The list of scouts now going is; Tony Beard, Nathan Blommel, Ross Frericks, Jason Kraemer, Greg Monroe, Peter Orth, Corey Spoden, Josh Spoden, Tom Hanson, and Scott Hollermann.
   Amtrak tickets will cost $189 for scouts who are 16 and older; $79 for scouts who are 15 and under.  Betty was given permission to purchase the tickets.

December 1991
   Tim Dingmann has decided he will not be going.  Scott Hollermann has not yet made up his mind.  Paul Strong is on the waiting list.
   I threw the committee for a loop this month when I tried to resign as scoutmaster but stay on as a committee member or assistant scoutmaster.  My reasons for this decision included poor advancement, unruly behavior by several of older scouts, lack of respect, and what seemed like a general attitude of the scouts that they can do what they please and not be scout-like if they so choose.  I felt that I had spent enough time as scoutmaster and that maybe it was time that a new leader be found.  Someone who perhaps the scouts would pay attention to.  Besides, I have had enough of being taken for granted, and of the older scouts' attitude.
   No one on the committee said anything for a while.  Mary Hanson was the first to break the silence.  After some discussion we agreed that I would stay on as scoutmaster for a few more months.  The committee would talk to the scouts during January's first troop meeting and see what could be done.  Mary would call the service center and see if our district executive could come up on that day and talk to the scouts at the same time.

January 1992
   The trip is getting closer.  There are still many things to get done and only six months left to do them.
   Scott Hollermann still has not made a decision by the committee meeting and they are starting to get impatient with him.  Paul and Vicki Strong would like to know if that spot is going to open up or not.  Vicki says that if he does not make a decision soon then Paul will not be going. (Scott does find out the next week that he will be a member of the summer camp staff and gives his spot to Paul.)
   Our crew is Scheduled to arrive at Philmont Scout Ranch on Wednesday, July 29.  Our trek will end with breakfast on Monday, August 10.  We will spend thirteen days at the ranch, ten of which we will spend in the backcountry.

February-May 1992
   The crew held a meeting on Monday, April 27, to pick out an itinerary. There are twenty-seven to choose from. They start with fifty mile hikes and gradually become longer. The longest trek covers over 82 miles. The treks are rated typical, rugged, strenuous, or super strenuous depending on the amount of miles covered and the difficulty of the hikes. Shorter treks will allow the crew to take part in programs at the various camps. Treks that cover greater distances will not allow much time for programs.
   My last trips to Philmont were treks that were over 70 miles long. There were many times that we arrived at our campsite and took a nap during the afternoon. We were too tired to go to the programs. Ross and Josh participated in the last trip. Hopefully they will remember this when it comes time to pick this trip's itinerary.
   The first thing the crew does is to choose what they would like to do on their trip. A side hike of Baldy Mountain and a visit to one of the cantinas top the list. The next most popular programs were rock climbing, gold mining and panning, challenge events, mountain man rendezvous, and a Mexican dinner. Burro packing, logging and spar climbing, and black powder rifle rounded out the list. Several other programs also received a couple of votes but were not as popular with the group.
   Now that they have a list of what they would like to do the scout try to find an itinerary that fits it the best. Five need to be chosen and entered on a card in the order of preference. Itineraries would be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Of course, we hope to get our first choice, or maybe our second. But we are a bit late getting this taken care of. I am not to hopeful on getting that first choice.  A week later a postcard from Philmont is in my mail. It informs us of the itinerary that we have received. Unfortunately, we got our fourth choice. I was not thrilled with this one. It was better then our fifth choice, however.
   Our trek will keep us in the northern and central portions of Philmont. We will not get a chance to side hike Baldy but we will get to climb the Tooth of Time. We will be visiting the cantina at Ponil but will not get to enjoy a Mexican dinner. (Too bad!)
   Actually, the more I  look at it the more I come to appreciate this itinerary. It is only fifty miles and still includes much of what the crew had on their list. As the time to leave comes closer I begin to get more excited about our trip. It has the makings of being a good one. 
   Another meeting is held in May to inform the crew of our trek's program. Josh explains what we will be doing. The group seems to be satisfied. I am glad for that.

June/July 1992

   Tony has gotten himself a summer job. On June 8 he informs me that he will not be going to Philmont. This job means too much to him. I understand his point of view. He was lucky enough to get a job that was right up his field. He is working for a computer company out of St. Cloud. I hope he enjoys it.
   That leaves us with one spot to fill if we are to have a full size crew. The first person that comes to mind is Tim Nathe. Tim would like to go but he and his parents thought that the cost would be prohibitive. 
   It turns out that the cost per scout will not be very expensive after all. A breakdown of the cost is:
     Philmont Fee - $250.00 
     Amtrak Train - $157.67
     Philmont bus  -  15.00
     Contingency -  25.00
     Greyhound Bus-  45.83
   The total cost per person will be $493.50. The contingency fund will be used for the group picture taken at Philmont, a meal on the train going down, a meal on the way back, and a little extra in case we need to buy something once we arrive at Philmont, such as stove fuel.
   The troop has $3686.88 saved for this trip from past fund raisers. Once the leaders' fees are paid each scout will receive over $274.98 credit from this fund. The final cost for each scout will be less then $220. Each scout will also be able to use his summer camp credit and his high adventure credit toward the cost of this trip. It has become a very inexpensive two week adventure.
   Tony has graciously offered to let Tim use his camp credit. The committee discussed this at their meeting and came to the consensus that that would not be fair to the other scouts. Tim will not be allowed to use Tony's credit.
   Tim's parents decide that this will be financially feasible after looking at the figures. Tim will be our tenth and last crew member. We will be going as a full size crew.  On June 22 a meeting is held after PLC meeting. Its purpose is to check over the gear that everyone intends to bring. It also gives us a chance to make sure that everyone brings everything that needs to be brought. Almost the entire crew attends.

Ready to move on to the next part?
Then go to
Part 2.

1992 Philmont Journal:
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8