Philmont Staff Interactions

Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 12:29:37 -0500
From: Douglas Fasching
Subject: Re: Philmont Staff Interactions

While you may have thought we had covered all the topics possible for preparing the best Philmont experience, I think there is one left worth discussing. Not stoves(btu, gas, airline), itineraries(best, worst, trail conditions, changes), gear, water, dynamics, travel, or bears (though I will likely throw in my controversial two cents at the end). I would like to suggest some things for interacting with the Philmont summer Staff.

Now this may be in the guide by Wally and Coop I don't know but I doubt it. While my experience on Staff was limited to the years 87-96 I still feel like I have a pretty good handle on the rapport between Staff and Camper. Mr. Gannon has from time to time put in his experiences from a recent Rangers point of view and I invite him to temper my comments with more contemporary Staff interactions.

I am always reading you guys list your number of times to Philmont so here's my resume:

82 - Camper
84 - Camper
86 - Camper
87 - PTC Food Service
88 - PTC Food Service
89 - Ranger (finally, and thank God lastly)
90 - PTC South Tent City Manager
91 - PTC Services Manager
92 - Urraca CD
93 - Santa Clause CD
94 - Ponil CD
95 - Cimarroncito CD
96 - Beaubien CD

Ahhhhh.....IWGBTP. Sorry, got nostalgic for a second there...

It's really only the last 5 years that make much difference since it's the Backcountry Staff perspective I would like to focus on.

I never actually met anyone that did not love working at Philmont in any capacity. We heard rumors, but surely those weren't true? But this is NOT [a council] summer camp. These folks are generally all in college and have chosen the less lucrative option of working at the Ranch rather than a summer job at home or an important internship somewhere. Often, they are not even historically Scouts and may never have been to Philmont before. They may be friends of previous Staff members.

Most of the Staff members that are in the Backcountry are returning Staff and have chosen or been chosen for their particular Camp because they wanted to be there but not always. In any case, they are well trained for their positions that summer. But what is it that they are trained for?

My guess is that you, the Camper, see them as being trained in rock climbing, black powder, ropes, horse back riding, and so on. But this is only the most obvious part of their work. They also get to handle things like: checking in crews, cleaning showers, cooking for the Staff, handling radio emergencies (both real and the ones campers fabricate), campfires, advisors' coffee, and managing commissaries.

Enthusiasm starts high in June rides pretty well through the 4th of July, lags mid July, picks up again around Phil-fiesta (~ July 25th), then trickles off steadily toward August 20 or so.

All these activities occur in the most beautiful of prison cells.

Imagine, you've just been slapped together with 5 other people that you [have] never met, thrown into the woods with no TV, electricity, or normal hygiene systems, told you'll get 8 days on and 2.5 days off and oh, by the way, the walk to your car is 3 hours away.

Interestingly, you will see a Staffer spring off the porch, greet your crew with an outstandingly warm welcome, invite you to some bug juice, and usher you cheerfully to your campsite for the evening. Later that day, or the next, she will teach you how to rope a plastic cow, rappel down a rock face, or milk a cow. Or she may help you contact Base with a Crew need of some kind, IT change, health lodge case, or some other thing.

They will stay up till nine or ten at night--every night--playing music, singing songs, or telling ghost stories. And maybe twice a summer they will get woken up a 2 am for a litter carry, [forest] fire, or lost Scout.

So basically it's a mixture of high enthusiasm, hard work, and long days.

The best way to keep it this way for you and all those Crews that follow you is to respect and appreciate what these young people do everyday, both what you see, and what you don't.

Staff get very little in the way of private areas (physical and emotional) so to help respect the space they do get:

Other behavior tid bits:

I will gladly respond privately or publicly to whatever responses or questions you might have. My opinions are my own and don't represent any particular organization.

Douglas Fasching [Edited May 18th, 2007 by Douglas Fasching to reflect the vast amount spelling and grammar he's learned since 2002]
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