Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 3, 2014

Athens scouts move through vast wilderness of New Mexico

Athens — An Athens crew of teenage Scouts and their leaders went on a June 2014 life changing trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M.

Philmont covers 137,000 acres of vast wilderness with trails that climb from 6,500 feet to as high as 12,441 feet. Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camp, and the largest youth camp in the world, serving nearly 1 million participants since it was gifted to the Boy Scouts by Oklahoma oilman and philanthropist Waite Phillips in 1938.

The crew made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage with their trip to Philmont. During their trek, Boy Scout Troop 343 hiked 74 miles over 12 days, including 22,916 feet of vertical ascents up and over a number of mountains and ridges.

The group of Scouts and their advisors carried 50 to 60-pound backpacks with everything they needed to survive during the trek while hiking from camp to camp. Along with their tents, sleeping bags and gear, sometimes this  also included a 4-day supply of food and 2 days of water. 

While on the trek, the Scouts endured tough challenges including backpacking in bear and mountain lion territory, pitching a new camp every evening with a hot meal, while implementing strict bear procedures, near freezing temperatures at night, drinking safe water from mountain streams, steep climbs and driving rain with threatening lightning.

They participated in back-country programs along the way, including Christian devotionals, wildlife study, map and compass orienteering, geology, forestry, history, archaeology, western lore, rock climbing, .30-06 rifle shooting and reloading. The trek included a conservation project where the Scouts learned and participated in the upkeep of Philmont’s trails and ecosystem.

“They may meet only one other group of Scouts on the trail in an entire day of hiking,” according to Backpacker Magazine. “Even in the most crowded destinations, each Scout group camps in isolation, out of sight and sound of all other groups.”

The Athens Philmont Scout attendees were Ian Collins, Temple Hendrickson, Nathan Johnson, and Will Perryman.  Adult advisors were Amy Johnson, Tyler Hendrickson and Chip Perryman. 

Boy Scout Troop 343 and Cub Scout Pack 350 are chartered by the First United Methodist Church of Athens at Lovers Lane and East College Street.  The 85-year-old troop meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. at their Scout Lodge on the southeast corner of the church.


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