Nominally, a Ranger is an outfitter, a guide, a teacher, and a mentor — a person who takes on a crew of
young adventurers, leads them into the Philmont mountains, and points the way until they are ready to
function on their own. The Ranger welcomes and orients crews, helps them pare down personal and
crew gear until each person has a manageable load. Once on the trail, the Ranger introduces the crew
to local conditions and methods of low-impact camping, and reviews essentials of camping, hiking, first
aid and safety. The Ranger may point out the trail the first day or so, but the real objective is to ensure
that the crew can find its own way.
The Ranger may also convey something of the “Magic of Philmont” — of the beauty and wonder of the
mountains, the varied flora and fauna, and the history that lies strewn about in the form of old mines,
overgrown railroad beds, and the tumbledown ruins of logging camps.
In reality, the experience of being a Ranger is more than the job description. Rangers are known for their
high spirit and a can-do, will-do attitude. In the face of hardship or challenge, they are more likely to be
energized than discouraged or defeated. If needed to clear trail after a blowdown, fight a wildfire, search
for a lost camper, or carry a litter off a mountain, they are ready.
The shared experience of being a Ranger has a way of creating lifelong friendships and forging bonds of
understanding, even among Rangers of different eras. The experience can produce a syndrome —
probably incurable — characterized by feelings of pride, exhilaration, nostalgia, and longing, lasting
years or even decades. It is a phenomenon that can prove baffling to spouses and acquaintances who
haven’t been there, but it mostly leaves old Rangers remembering cherished friends and places, and
"I wanta go back to Philmont — where the old Rayado flows . . ."
. Written by Marty Tschetter
Philmont History Time-line
• 1897 — Black Mountain Cabin built by a miner in the valley.
Later known as “Urraca Cow Camp”.
• 1907 — Continental Tie and Lumber company begins logging in Ponil canyon.
• 1930 — Logging operations end.
• 1939 — Philturn Rocky Mountain Scout Camp opens.
Fireplaces and cooking shelters built in Dean Canyon, Ponil (Five Points) and Pueblano.
Minimum age 15, crews design own treks — backpacking, burro/horse packing, they used a chuck-wagon with a Staff
Crews could choose a 3, 6 or 12 days pre-organized treks. Weekly rate per camper was $1.00
There were 189 Scouts in the first year.
• 1941 — Phillips second gift, Philturn becomes: Philmont Scout Ranch.
• Pre-PTC (Philmont Training Center) adult training is held at a building in Horse Canyon.
Once the rest of the land was donated in 1941, work began to set up infrastructure, using most of the Ranch’s previously
existing cattle infrastructure.
Today, Base Camp is what was once the horse barns and ranch headquarters of Phillips’ land.
• 1942 — There were then 200 miles of existing trail, 275 Scouts at PSR first season of 1942.
Air Force B-24 crashed on Trail Peak, an Eagle Scout is among the dead.
Because of WWII, there was limited railroad/bus transportation to Philmont available for Scouts.
Scouts were encouraged to stay at home and participate in activities that helped the war effort instead.
The Ranch had its own “victory” garden, dairy operations etc. and was able to supply most of its own food.
Service Corps Scouts built trail, did cons work, did ranch work.
• 1945 — PhilStaff member, John B. Westfall writes “Silver on the Sage” at Cito.
• 1946 — First year after the war, about 500 campers attended.
Skill training focused on axemanship, cooking, packing, horsemanship, pioneering, stalking, nature study, marksmanship.
• 1947 — Programs evolve. Wagon Train Trek is for 23 days on trail. Expeditions are 13 days, 80 miles.
Two years later Kit Carson Trek established. First trek entirely of backpacking, no burros/etc.
Crater Lake among original staff camps. During these days, Cito could get as many as 400 campers per night.
• 1949 — Donald Rumsfeld spends a summer as a seasonal staffer.
• 1950 — PTC begins, 1700 participants next year 5,200 participants.
• 1952 — “We All Made It” Plaque originally awarded.
• 1955 — Staffer tells U.S. Surveyors that Stony Point is really named “Hart Peak.” (his last name) Only feature
. named for seasonal staffer.
• 1957 — Arrowhead Patch first used.
Partnership between Kansas University Medical and Philmont begins.
Ranger Dept. is begun. yay!!
PhilTents used to be red. They are now green or blue, but they have also been brown.
• 1961 — “Ranger Song” first used.
• 1963 — We get Baldy Mountain area — Philmont is now 214 sq. miles.
• 1964 — Waite Phillips dies.
• 1965 — Year of the Flood, greatest natural disaster to hit Philmont until 2002 Ponil Complex fire.
Flood destroyed Olympia.
• 1967 — Last original building at Baldy Town, the commissary, torn down.
• 1968 — Kit Carson trek, precursor Rayado, begins.
• 1969 — Preplanned itineraries begin, with various levels of difficulty.
Over 10,000 participants each summer.
Camps established and staffed throughout backcountry.
Ranger Axe discontinued.
• 1971 — Conservation Department.
• 1972 — First coed crews!! - Philmont get its first two female Rangers.
• 1973 — Kit Carson Women.
• 1976 — Rayado, rock climbing program begins at Urraca.
• 1977 — Japanese Scouts start coming to Philmont.
• 1979 — Wilderness Pledge first used. “Leave No Trace”.
• 1981 — First female Ranger Chief, Joyce Schroeder.
• 1983 — Ranger Office moves to current location.
• 1987 — USAFA Ranger struck by lightning and killed at Crater Lake — plaque outside flagpole commemorates him.
Ranch starts converting backcountry to solar powered systems.
• 1988 — Buffalo pasture landing strip discontinued from use, after a fatal plane crash.
First coed backcountry camps - Abreu, Cito & Ponil.
• 1990s — Valle Vidal access.
Fish Camp, Apache Springs, Clear Creek & French Henry no longer supplied by burro runs.
January 1, 1999 - Mark Anderson - lives in a 100+ year old house. (The antler gate was begun in 1976.)
• 2001 — Copyrighted the Ranger Song to the Ranger Department. Boom.
• 2000 to 2005 — $1.45 Million dollar restoration of Villa begun.
• 2002 — Ponil Complex Fire — burned 28,000 acres on Philmont property, in total burned 92,000 acres.
This information was compiled by Ranger Trainers, Lauren Berger and Sean Radler – 2011
They gleaned most of this information, from Rock Rohrbacher’s “Philmanac”.
Some minor editing of the data by David Lagesse.
Philmont Rangers History
Philmont Scout Ranch is located in the Sangre de Christo Mountain range in northeastern New Mexico. This place is the
largest private camping operation in the world accompanied by 1,000 seasonal personnel, serving over 20,000 campers
Philmont staff value learning, personal growth, self-reliance, and professionalism. The staff member with the longest
tenure in the company of crews seeking a quest is the Ranger. Groups plan a year ahead for ten special days; which
become a captive audience. By default, the Ranger has the opportunity to make or break the experience.
Rangers provide a hardy welcome, maneuver through check-in procedures, lead into the wild, train camping methods,
and provide stewardship the first four days. Through the course of the summer, the Ranger develops into a specialist
establishing youth leadership, backpacking, wilderness affairs, group dynamics, human relations, emergency procedures.
The role requires the Ranger to cultivate learning through a positive atmosphere strengthened by the outdoor classroom.
There is an unparalleled opportunity to be creative and use methods “outside the box.” Rangering is a high demand
responsibility, a 24-hour job.
The beginning of each summer, Rangers are provided a framework consisting of a fieldbook, training, and methods.
But these tools are not everything needed for the camping season. Rangers have to add life through their own personality
and experience. Rangers defined are budding adults with variety and distinctiveness. The department exudes group spirit.
The opportunity to serve as a Ranger is a small window, though abides throughout life. Their impact reaches thousands.
Philmont’s mountains have drawn young people seeking adventure since the end of the Great Depression.
The Old West—the West of untrammeled forests, rugged Canyonlands, expansive skies, and exposure to weather and
wild creatures—becomes real in this place called Philmont. The experience is the outdoors, the program, and the people.
The outdoors is our classroom, the program is the method. People are integral, bringing to life values and relationships to
be cherished for a lifetime.
In the Beginning
Opened in 1939, Philmont was initially known as “Philturn Rocky Mountain Scout Camp”, in honor of benefactor, Waite
Phillips and his “Good Turn” to Scouting. For the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the vision for the camping
operation was to develop self-reliance in a western setting where wildlife abounds and nature’s wonders challenge the
imagination. Phillips foresaw that participants would have the same experiences as “the pioneer forefathers who
established the traditions and historical background of this high country.”
A dusty road lined with sagebrush and Ponderosa pine leads to Five Points Base Camp in Ponil Canyon—a place known
today simply as “Ponil”. Philturn offered two camping options. The first was a general wilderness camping experience.
Senior troops chose a location to serve as their encampment. Participants used their own canvas tents and gear and
developed their personal programs. Once established in a campsite, the group was encouraged to engage in service
projects to further benefit the development of Philturn. Projects included trail improvement and the building of overlooks.
A promotional brochure from the period promoted one-day hikes to the old logging camp on Wilson Mesa, a hike to North
Ponil Canyon to view the Indian petroglyphs on the canyon wall, or an overnight hike to the top of any of the many ridges
from which sunset and sunrise would provide real inspiration.
A second option was a special twelve-day exploration trip. The program included formal instruction in burro packing
and backpacking, horseback riding, and cooking. Two days of provisions were issued for a trip up to a canyon camp
where a special horseback trip took participants to the top of a ridge. The following day, Scouts learned about the Indian
On the fifth day crews returned to ‘Five Points’ to load a chuck wagon with enough provisions for a four-day-trip to another
part of the camp. In the evening, the wagon master cooked a cowboy chuck wagon meal. The following days were spent
exploring the vacant structures on Wilson Mesa or panning for gold in the South Ponil Creek. Returning to Five Points,
forest and animal life exploration completed the program.
Due to the proven stewardship during the first three summers, Phillips graciously donated a larger tract of land to the
In 1942 the name was changed to Philmont, appropriately acknowledging “all the mountains” he gave to Scouting.
In the years that followed a trail system was created, connecting outlying camps scattered over the property. Staffed
outposts were developed to offer uncommon Western programs. Unstaffed camps offered solitude under the Rocky
Mountain sky. Starting in the late 1940s, staff members known as guides accompanied groups during their entire time on
the trail. Most were high school students who served without pay. Groups visiting the ranch during this era typically were
from neighboring states, and attendance numbers were generally low.
By the mid -1950s, the ranch offered six standard programs. The wagon train was a “deluxe” experience offering a chuck
wagon trip, horseback riding, hiking, burro packing, fly-fishing, geology, forestry, and even hunting with a rifle. Northbound
and Southbound treks lasted three weeks, with burros carrying bedding and food over well-traveled routes. Cavalcades
were 6-day excursions on horseback. The Kit Carson trek was promoted as “A real Explorer experience,
rugged all the way.” The objective was to summit five mountain peaks in 8 days. The Lucien Maxwell trek was a 10-day
trip named for the “Baron of the Old West”, who owned the vast Maxwell Land Grant encompassing present-day Philmont
and the surrounding region. The program revolved around game management and offered participants the opportunity to
study wild animals. The Ranch Pioneering Trek was a 21-day experience based on service to Philmont; groups performed
tasks related to ranch, farm, and livestock management.
In 1955, groups started from three base camps — Ponil in the north, Cimarroncito in the center, and Carson-Maxwell in
the south. Here meals were served in a dining hall, and each crew received training from an assigned staff member.
Trail skills taught to participants included axemanship, fire-building, cooking, camp-making, backpacking, foot care,
camp sanitation, and baking with Dutch ovens and reflector ovens. On the fourth day, crews learned what each section
of the ranch had to offer in order to layout an itinerary. Each crew had the option to camp in one spot all week or hike to
a different camp each day.
Trial and error were integral to the growing program. Ranch administration experimented with another idea in 1956,
allowing groups to hike in the backcountry without much formal training. The thought was that Scouts who came to
Philmont were typically older and should be seasoned campers. A small number of roving rangers patrolled the
backcountry, giving direction and assistance to the groups they encountered.
The outcome was largely chaotic with crews often separated, disoriented, and prone to negligent accidents.
The backcountry at this time more closely resembled a wilderness area, in the sense that it lacked the physical
improvements, staffing, and programs that crews encounter today. Clearly a new plan was needed before the next
The Ranger Star...
Part of the early challenge to Philmont's managers stemmed from the need for a steady increase in participation.
During the off-season, Philmont professionals toured the nation, visiting local councils to convey the Philmont story and
By this time, travel to the remote location was easier and attendance increased significantly. Stays of three weeks or
more were no longer practical, and the ranch could hardly afford to have a staff member remain with each crew for the
duration of its visit.
In the fall of 1956, the Director of Camping Jack Rhea tackled the challenge of developing a program to properly train
crews. He created a committee of senior staff members to brainstorm a solution. A key volunteer selected was Clarence
E. Dunn, an elementary school principal from Arlington, Texas, who had served on staff since 1945. For the last several
seasons, Dunn had served as personnel administrator for seasonal staff, selecting applicants to work at the ranch.
The committee spent extensive time studying available camping areas, crew needs, and other challenges. One
conclusion of the committee was to develop expeditions, in which crews could continue to plan their own itineraries,
but with better guidance and organization from the staff.
According to Rhea, “As numbers grew the need for more staff increased. We could not find enough qualified applicants
from areas we had been using. Philmont became better known all over the Scouting movement and we began to get
applications from many places. The major problem now was that many of the better qualified Scouts could not afford the
cost of transportation to the ranch. So we decided to start paying our staff members. When this happened we began to
find older, more experienced Scouts and some adults applying for positions.”
Retired attorney Bill Dailey from Moline, Illinois, remembered being encouraged by his Scout executive to apply for the
1957 staff. “I had been on the local council camp staff for five summers and after encouragement was elated to be
accepted as a Ranger. I had been a camper in 1952 and was familiar with the organized trek routine. The ranch wanted
to develop a concept that allowed flexibility and a quicker entry into the backcountry. Of course the theory of it all and the
long range objective were not all that certain or understood when we began the summer.”
E. O. “Buzz” Clemmons joined the ranch administration as the Director of Program and took on the task of screening
applications and hiring staff. Dunn understood the ranch operation and the importance of properly led and equipped
expeditions. As an educator, he also understood the needs of youth. A second conclusion by the committee was that
young men with strong Scouting backgrounds would be able to relate well to participants and had an opportunity to be
positive role models. “It was decided to call this new department Rangers. I know of no special reason why this name
was chosen,” remarked Rhea.
1970. Dunn selected, trained, and supervised the Rangers. He selected Assistant Chief Rangers to help administer the
department. As he observed the results, the positive impact of the Ranger program was evident.
Much was expected of Philmont’s Rangers. Training in the backcountry emphasized outdoor camping methods, Dutch
oven cooking, use of map and compass, emergency response and treatment of simple medical problems, and general
camp procedures. Dailey recalled, “We were told to help crews plan their trip, get them to the backcountry, conduct
prescribed training procedures on cooking, hiking, axemanship, and move out to the training camps. We usually planned
for a horseback ride the first day before hitting the trail.”
The preferred backpack was the “Bearpaw.” “The front folded down and the sides opened from the middle to each side,”
Dailey explained. “The sleeping bag was folded and placed against the back of the pack. The sides of the pack were
then strapped across the bag. The bottom front of the pack then was folded up and over and strapped to the top part of
the frame using a diamond hitch. A top flap then folded over the top. There were loops to store an axe along the side.
We didn’t use hip belts or even pads on the shoulder straps. Eventually I scrounged some sponge rubber and sewed
some pads to the straps.”
Another charter Ranger was the late David Jung, who reminisced about that first summer: “As Rangers we were told we
would be responsible for everything that happened to an expedition for the first 4-5 days, starting the moment crews
arrived. We would see to registration, completion of health re-checks, tent city assignments, camping gear rentals and
when necessary mail delivery. Itinerary planning was to be completed with the trip planners before leaving headquarters.
I had prior staff experience and was designated as a Training Ranger. We were responsible for the special training that
involved Ranger responsibilities.”
Ranger training was conducted in the Ponil Canyon. In addition to Dunn and Rhea, the training staff included ranch
legends Doc Loomis and Ray Bryan. Doc Higgins and Wes Klusman from the national office also participated. Klusman
was the Director of Camping for the Boy Scouts of America, a gregarious campfire leader, and a legend of sorts in
Scouting. According to collected archives, the first day’s training consisted of a shakedown and a conditioning hike.
The second day the entourage hiked to Pueblano, followed by a cross-country hike to Dan Beard on the third day.
Camping skills training continued, and on the fourth day the group hiked back to old Five Points for a buffalo banquet
preceding a return to Camping Headquarters.
Recalled Jung, “Everyone recognized that the new Ranger program was important, probably the most important activity
going on at the ranch that year. Close attention was paid by all involved.”
Dailey recalled that after camp opened someone went to Raton and returned with a cowboy hat. “Soon most all of us got
one and it became the symbol of the Ranger along with our axes. One of the Rangers from Texas ran across a tin star
with Texas Ranger on it. He filed the word Texas off, leaving the word Ranger. We then did the same and ended up
wearing the cowboy hat with the “Ranger” star on the front. The star I wore is at the Seton Museum.” Based on
recollection of original Rangers, many traditions familiar to Rangers are traceable to those early years.
Dailey reminisced about trail meals, consisting mostly of dehydrated items. “The trail menu was the same and not
rotated. Consequently we had to eat the same food all summer. It wasn’t long before we couldn’t take it anymore.
We began to carry canned food, peaches, and even meat. Later in the summer we would supervise the preparation of
the meal, have a taste to be sociable, then sneak off and eat some ‘real food.’ At the end of the season I carried cans
of hamburgers and onions. I would open the hamburger can and put it on the fire and dice up the onion into the can.
I lived on the combination for the last three weeks.”
From the outset, Rangers became motivators, preparing campers for the rugged experience ahead, both physically and
mentally. Over the course of that first summer, Rangers began tracking their crews and took pride in the ability of “their”
crews to finish what they had started with no loss of crew members.
Renowned artist Norman Rockwell’s painting, “High Country”, was rendered during a visit to Philmont Scout Ranch.
The canvas shows six young men prepared for the great outdoors and headed towards the Tooth of Time. The painting
was presented in 1957, the year the ranger department was organized.
|There's no place I'd rather be
Than right here in God's Country
For it will always be home to me.
From: "Home is Where the Heart Is"
-- Chris Standard
This Ranger Star was
provided by Mark Wray,
ASM-167, Arlington, VA,
and dates from the mid-
to late 1970's. The photo
was taken by Dennis
Young. Cropping and
detail enhancement was
done by Dr. Bob Klein.
Original "Ranger Star" >
ADD DIFFERENT Philmont Ranger -
Ranger Stars to use on this site.
Please E-mail them to me.
PHILMONT RANGER SONG
I want to go back to Philmont
I want to go baaaaack to Philmont
Where the old Rayado Flows,
Where the rain comes a seepin’
In the tent where you’re a sleepin’
And the waters say hello. HELLO (shout)
I want to wake up in the morning
With my socks all wringing wet,
For it brings back fondest memories,
That a Ranger can’t forget. WANNA BET (shout)
I want to hike once more the canyon floor
From Scribblins to Old Camp,
With my pack sack a-creakin’,
With my back with sweat a-reekin’,
And my legs beginning to cramp, OHHHH (shout)
I want to hike with such great men
As made those famous treks,
From Beaubien to Porky
And from Cito to Car-Max.
(Hip Hip!) Hooray!
(Hip Hip!) Hooray!
(Hip Hip!) Hooray! (shout)
Future Assistant Chief Ranger Jim Place once wrote:
“I believe the Philmont Ranger a group cannot be over-emphasized.
He can make or break an expedition’s experience.
For this reason it is of utmost importance that Philmont strive to keep its Ranger Program at top quality.”