Troop 199 Scouts share Philmont backpacking adventure

This summer, six Aquia District Scouts from BSA Troops 199B and 199G, sponsored by Stafford Crossing Community Church, traveled to the high desert of New Mexico to take on the challenges and adventures of a seven-day backpacking trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Five adults accompanied the Scouts.

After checking in at base camp, the crew organized backpacks already filled with personal gear and clothing with all the crew gear they’d be carrying for the next week: tents, fly, bear bags, cooking pots, food, water purification tablets, etc.

Scouts honed outdoor and teamwork skills like map and compass navigation, water purification, hazardous weather, backcountry cooking and cleanup, and bear bag use. The crew got breaks at two camps, where they enjoyed Philmont staff-prepared chuckwagon and Mexican dinners.

Trip highlights included summiting the iconic Tooth of Time peak at 9,000-feet elevation, performing hours of trail maintenance for future trekkers, horseback riding, a climbing wall, tomahawk throwing and branding hats with Philmont logos. Scouts visited a New Mexico homestead, the Kit Carson Museum and the National BSA Museum. To make the adventure even more memorable, Scouts spotted one black bear and two rattlesnakes during their trek.

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Scouts often noted lightning and thunder in the distance, but their trek was rain free with humidity only 20-40%—enviable to any Virginian. Their trek covered almost 70 miles, but the Scouts exemplified the BSA motto, “Be Prepared,” as demonstrated by their feet (no blisters), strength and endurance, carrying full backpacks while acclimating to mountainous desert terrain and climate. Base camp elevation was 6,500 feet, and the crew peaked at nearly 9,500 feet, including a 3,400-foot elevation gain on Trail Day 3.

At the end, hot, dirty and tired didn’t dissuade the Scouts from voting to return to Philmont for another trek—because, yes, they all had fun.

To ask questions about Philmont, email Trip at; he has been there twice as lead adviser and has multiple 50-mile backpacking trips under his belt.

To find a BSA Scout unit near you, visit Cub Scouting serves families with children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Scouts BSA serves families with children ages 11–18. Programs for families with older youths, ages 14–20, include Venturing, Exploring and Sea Scouting.

The mission of the BSA is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Aquia District includes Stafford County and Marine Corps Base Quantico. For more information on Scouting in the Stafford and Fredericksburg area, including how to donate, join or volunteer, contact Aquia District Executive Kristy Freeman at or 540/287-3866.

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