Philmont Mail on the Trail

by John LeBlanc
Tue, 18 May 1999 12:14:13 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 5/17/99 9:51:17 AM Central Daylight Time, writes:

 << According to the tear-out card in the front of the 1999 Guidebook to
  Adventure booklet, "Incoming mail may be picked up only by your
  expedtion advisor at the Philmont Post Office when your crew arrives at
  Philmont and when you return to Camping Headquarters from the trail."   

While we are on this subject, please remind parents how important it is to make sure there is a letter for the scout when they first get to Philmont AND for when they get off the trail. They are big enough to be away from home, but not big enough to not be home sick. We never get that big. Never!

As a scout who traveled all over the country in summers, I remember how disappointed some were when they did not get any mail. I can still see our scoutmaster coming out of some remote post office with a stack of mail he had just gotten announcing "if any of you did not get a letter from home, please see one of the LeBlanc's or Collins because they got enough for everybody.

He had been in the Navy See Bees in the Solomon Islands during WWII and knew the importance of "letters from home". We made mail stops every 4-5 days on our 2-3 week long trips. This was not always an easy thing to do, but an important one.

To just depend on a phone call is not quite the same. You can't pull out a phone call at 2:00 AM and touch the words like you can with a letter.

At 14 and away from home the first time at Philmont, I can remember carrying those letters I got with me on the trek and reading and rereading them many times. They were nice to have.

Fortunately, I had parents that tended to that. Whenever I was away from home, my dad sat down each morning, first thing and wrote a letter. He had a routine, he drove to the post office and checked his mail, went to his office, read our letters, wrote letters to each of us, drove back to the post office and mailed them without any delay. Then and only then would he begin his busy day of work. EVERYDAY!!!!

While I was in the Army, and my brothers in the Coast Guard and Navy during the Vietnam war, he never faltered. Everyday, first thing. There is a lot of things said about lack of backing of men in the military during that time, I never felt it if there was, I had a lot of backing through those "letters from home".

It was highly unusual for us not to get mail every time, but sometimes it happened even with my parents writing every day.

I can remember so many times in the Army that somebody did not get a letter and would really be disappointed. I loaned out letters thousands of times to guys. Many would announce, "I'm gonna borrow one of LeBlanc's, I know he got mail!".

That simple touch from home is a life saver on personal emotions.

As a scout leader, I always emphasized this to parents and I am glad I did.

My dad is almost 90 and as I look back, I really appreciate his effort to write me and my brothers every day any of us was away from home. That was an extra special thing he did.

He knew the feeling, both his parents were killed when he was 16. After that, he was on his own. Dad did many things for us while we were growing up that was the extra mile and it took me a long time to know why and understand. I thought everyone did those things. Not so!

As a soldier in the U S Army, I found out what it was like having mail call and not getting any mail. It was not the high point of one's day.

The most impressive letter I ever got was in the Army. Inside the envelope was a self addressed envelope addressed to my mother, inside that was a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. No note, nothing else. I got dad's message loud and clear!


John LeBlanc

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