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New Hanover Scouts trek 100 miles of wilderness over 12 days

This summer, nine New Hanover teens set out on a life changing adventure, backpacking through Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.

Known as Crew #2 for the trip, the Boy Scouts from Troop 367 in New Hanover Township hiked close to 100 miles over 12 days, facing many challenges along the way such as backpacking in bear and mountain lion territory, climbing steep Mount Philips and encountering quick changing, sometimes dangerous weather.

Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s largest National High Adventure Base, covering 140,177 acres of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern New Mexico. The Scout Ranch operates 35 staffed camps and 55 trail camps across the rugged terrain that ranges in elevation from 6,500 to 12,441 feet. More than one million Scouts, Venturers and Advisors have experienced the adventure of Philmont since its first camping season in 1939 (https://www.philmontscoutranch.org/).

New Hanover Scouts Jake Dawson, 18; Michael Beck, 18; Joe Super, 18; Nick Berger, 16; Neal Brounce, 15; Christian Gartshore, 14; Zac Womer, 17; Connor McCartney, 17; and Griffen O’Brien, 17 can now count themselves among those to experience the adventure at Philmont.

“I loved finding a fleck of gold panning in the stream that was running so fast that the gold panning station had been shut down. I also thoroughly enjoyed the hike up Mount Phillips, and the view from the top.” — Scout Joe Super of Boyertown

While in Philmont, the New Hanover Scouts carried everything needed to survive on their backs while hiking on the trail from camp to camp.

“Something that I found most challenging was climbing a peak called Trail Peak. Trail Peak is a trail that goes up to 10,000 feet up in elevation and it’s a straight path all the way up,” said Christian Esteves Gartshore, a Star Scout with BSA Troop 367 in New Hanover Township. “Me and my crew had to stop multiple times until we were able to get to the top of it.”

Scouts participated in backcountry programs during the Philmont Scout Ranch trip, including rock climbing, fly-fishing, pole sparring, gold mining, blacksmithing and high-powered rifle shooting. Submitted photo

They participated in backcountry programs along the way including rock climbing, fly-fishing, pole sparring, gold mining, blacksmithing and high-powered rifle shooting, as well as a conservation project where they participated in the upkeep of Philmont’s ecosystem.

“One of my favorite things that we did at Philmont was 3D archery at one of the camps; basically we were shooting fake deer, bears and rabbits,” Esteves Gartshore said.

While there were many moments that all compete for his favorite part of the trip, what stands out for Scout Joe Super of Boyertown was the gold panning station and the hike on Mount Phillips.

“I loved finding a fleck of gold panning in the stream that was running so fast that the gold panning station had been shut down. I also thoroughly enjoyed the hike up Mount Phillips, and the view from the top.”

“The only part of the whole trip that I think I will always look back on and dislike was the Trail of Tears — a long, winding trail down the mountain, which for most of it you see camp, then turn away, then turn back, and so on, all of it in the blazing sun with very minimal shade,” Super added.

Overall, Super said he gained a better understanding for life in the backcountry, and an understanding that on the trail, if you want to be certain you will be able to do an activity you want to do, you must get there first, even if it means waking up at 4 in the morning and hiking in near darkness.

“On our first day, we passed through a camp where we could have done geocaching, but because it had been raining much of the day and seemed to have cleared for a bit, we passed on the activity so we could make it to our campsite and set up before it started raining again,” said Super.

One of the activities was 3D archery at one of the camps. Submitted photo

Jim Gartshore, Scott Repa and Jeff Beck of the New Hanover Scout Troop served as adult advisors on the trip.

“I know the boys gained lifelong memories of their experience at Philmont,” said Gartshore. “They definitely gained an understanding of what they are capable of achieving – some of the boys had their internal doubts about the physical challenges of hiking and climbing with 45 plus pounds on their back but they all persevered!   I also hoped they learned the value of teamwork and camaraderie in working together to get things done and supporting each other along the way.”

For the most part, their crew was on their own on the trail and camping alone.

“By far the biggest challenge was being out in the middle of the backcountry with no support other than each other, our gear, map and compass,” said Gartshore. “The miles were long and the weather quick to change but we all went to bed each night with a full stomach and warm, dry sleeping bag, despite the rain showers and pop up hail storms!”

The scouts gained an appreciation and self-confidence in knowing what they can achieve individually and collectively, he said.

“An adventure like Philmont requires the scouts to apply many of the skills they’ve learned over the years – important life skills like cooking, first aid, knots, orienteering, etc., many skills that already put them ahead of anyone else who does not join the scouts,” said Gartshore.

Crew #2 was hailed on three times in 12 days — twice at the top of mountain peaks and once was a full-blown lightning storm with pea-sized hail.

While other crews sent boys and adults back to the base camp infirmary due to hypothermia, twisted ankles, back strains and home sickness, Crew #2 worked together as a cohesive team to get all the chores done each day and still manage to hike an average of close to 11 miles a day and climb or descend 1,500 to 3,000 feet each day, he said.

“The Philmont adventure was strenuous, physically demanding but so rewarding as we all accomplished every step of the way together,” said Gartshore.

Christian Esteves Gartshore, a Star Scout with BSA Troop 367 in New Hanover Township, and Jim Gartshore, adult advisor, stop to enjoy the view together. Submitted photo

While there were three adults on the trip, they only gave guidance; the scouts had to make the decisions themselves as a team.

Beck hopes this trip gave the scouts the courage to face challenges head-on as well as a sense of independence and confidence.

“It will give them a sense of confidence that they can survive without all the comforts of home and the ability to have of a Google search for the answer to everything.”

He also hopes that with them explaining the adventure to the younger boys in the troop, it will encourage others to strive to go on this adventure.

“My wish would be that every young person, boys and girls, would know about this opportunity and to join scouts (and) plan to someday go to Philmont.  It was life-changing for me; I will never forget it and they gave me confidence in my everyday life.”

Repa hopes that the Scouts came away from the experience with a deeper understanding of what they can achieve with preparation and perseverance.

“Two of the fundamental goals of Scouting are to develop leadership skills and appreciation for the outdoors,” said Repa. “Philmont is arguably the ultimate Scouting experience for furthering both of these aims.  For almost two weeks our Scouts were responsible for ensuring that all members of the crew (adults included) were kept safe and secure in a Rocky Mountain backcountry setting that was both immensely beautiful and greatly challenging.  From this, I believe they all learned the satisfaction that is gained through pushing personal limits to expand their capabilities.”

While Philmont is a physically demanding environment, Repa believes the biggest challenge for the Scouts was maintaining a positive mental attitude, both in advance of the trek and while on the trail.

“A Philmont trek is an experience that demands both physical and mental strength – both personal attributes that will serve the Scouts who participated well as they prepare for the challenges they will face outside of Scouts and as adults.” — Scott Repa, adult advisor

Preparation began more than a year in advance of the trip and involved countless meetings, planning sessions, and training treks.  Through these experiences the Scouts learned how to set a long-term goal, break it down into preparation milestones, keep focus on the final objectives amidst sometimes tedious tasks, and adapt to unexpected complications as they arose, said Repa.

“As a youth-led program, it was essential that the Scouts do most of this work themselves, with the adults serving only as mentors and guides,” said Repa. “Our Scouts, especially those in key leadership positions, such as the Crew Leader (Connor McCartney) and Navigator (Neal Brounce), did a great job of keeping the crew on track throughout both planning and execution of the trek – and all of the Scouts learned through both the successes and failures they encountered along the way.”

“In order to fully appreciate and enjoy the rugged beauty that makes Philmont a special place one must be fit in a variety of ways,” added Repa. “A Philmont trek is an experience that demands both physical and mental strength – both personal attributes that will serve the Scouts who participated well as they prepare for the challenges they will face outside of Scouts and as adults.”

As an adult leader, Repa said it was a privilege to be able to help facilitate this experience for the New Hanover Scouts.

“Helping the Scouts of our crew build their leadership capabilities and experience a trip they will remember for the rest of their lives added another dimension to the unforgettable experience that was the trip itself.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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