Friday, July 31, 2009

Local Boy Scouts Trek
Though New Mexico Wilderness

A group of Boy Scouts from Berwick and their leaders went on a life changing, 10 day, summer trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Philmont covers 214 square miles of vast wilderness in which Boy Scout Crew #625-Y2 explored while hiking over 65 miles of trails.
The 8 boys and their adult advisors carried everything they needed to survive during the trek on their backs, while hiking from camp to camp. The Scouts participated in back country activities including rock climbing, rifle shooting, western lore, and blacksmithing. The trek included a conservation project where the Scouts participated in the up-keep of Philmont’s hiking trails.
Along the trek the Scouts endured challenges, such as a nine-hour hike up and down Black Mountain, at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level. With low oxygen levels, and some scouts with blistered feet, it was far more challenging than hikes on the seacoast of Maine. A hail storm on the Tooth of Time Mountain ridge pelted the boys with hail the size of marbles, and forced them to recognize the value of protection against the elements. Other exciting moments included a bear running through their camp during dinner and a rattlesnake on the trail.
“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 camps, each scout group is in isolation, out of sight and sound of all other groups.’’
“As an adult advisor, we were there to follow the boys and make sure they did not get into trouble,” says Drew Conroy. “The greatest reward was seeing the boys lead themselves, direct all camp, cooking, and hiking activities, as well as navigate their way through the wilderness using their map and compass.”
Scoutmaster Rick Raynes, also an adult advisor on the trek, added “This experience will remain with these boys forever. They may not know it now, but this has changed them. Hopefully, as they enter into adulthood, they will realize that they accomplished something really amazing. They survived for 10 days in the mountains of northern New Mexico with just gear they carried on their backs. They climbed to mountain peaks that they thought they were never going to get to. They continued to hike mile after mile when they thought they couldn’t go any further. They protected themselves against severe weather and wild animals. But the one thing I think they did best was to work as a team. They encouraged each other when things got tough, shared burdens when things got heavy, and respected each other as individual members of one crew, knowing it would take a collective effort to make it – and they did!”
The boys from Berwick and a few other Maine communities made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage with their trip to Philmont. Philmont Scout Ranch is one of the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camps and largest youth camp in the world serving 22,000 participants every summer. Article by Ross Conroy, Star Scout, Berwick, Maine Troop 313.
Photo caption: Boy Scouts from Berwick completed a trip this summer to the mountains of New Mexico (Courtesy photo)