2002 Fall Camporee — hosted by Troop 53!
Planning materials we used
When we received confirmation from Philmont in late 2006 of our 2008 reservation I searched all over the internet for a PowerPoint presentation about Philmont that could be used as talking points by a unit at their first Philmont parents'/participants' meeting. 20-something pages of Google hits later, and several downloads of presentations suitable for training seminars or council contingents, I realized I'd have to do it myself. I don't have PowerPoint (I do have the "viewer" available free from Microsoft) and considered how I'd like to build a presentation with the applications I have. I considered building it in a word processor, then converting to PDF, and showing it full-screen with random page transitions, but finally decided upon Powerbullet. Powerbullet creates Flash presentations and can either embed them in a web page or create a stand-alone executable. Best of all, Powerbullet is free! Below are links for the presentation I made. Please read the "readme" file included in each download!
Our travel itinerary
Since this was my 9th trip to Philmont and my 6th as lead advisor I knew how to get there and back traveling by private vehicle. From the St. Louis area there are 2 basic routes to Philmont: a northern route through Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado, and a southern route through Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. I knew we wanted to spend some time in the Colorado Springs area. A secondary goal there was to spend a few days "at altitude" to help get acclimated prior to hiking. We had decided to camp on the way out and back so I looked for camping areas close to where we'd be traveling toward the end of a day, i.e about half-way across Kansas and about half-way across Oklahoma. A couple other "requirements" I had for camping areas was that they be relatively close to things we wanted to do or were close to our route and that they have showers since a Scout is Clean and is not olfactorily offensive to the public. Due to our late-season trek we would have to do all our sight-seeing on the way out so our Scouts could get to their first day of school on time, therefore the northern route was chosen for getting to Philmont and the southern route for getting home. As mentioned above, I knew where I wanted to go, so I was able to put our itinerary together in one afternoon. Googling, phone calls, reservations, creating a parents handout for it, etc. — all of it. If you are planning your first trip, count on more time than that. Also, because I'd done this before, other than where we'd be spending the night things were not planned to the "nth degree". If we saw something we might be interested in seeing we went. There were some "definites", e.g. Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, but time was left for spur of the moment activities.
Other travel ideas
While we didn't do any of these on this trip these are places and activity ideas that I've either been to or done or that others have recommended to me. If time and/or budget allows, you may want to consider one or more of these. I'll leave it to you to Google them.
In New Mexico:
Whitewater rafting — I've thought that this would be a great after-Philmont activity. The reason for "after" is that if someone gets hurt you're at least on your way home and their entire trip isn't ruined. Unfortunately the last 2 times we've gone to Philmont we've had late season treks and had to hurry home for school. So I haven't been able to use this idea yet. Rafting is available in Royal Gorge, CO and Rio Grande Gorge in New Mexico. Probably several other places as well. I have no recommendations for operators or outfitters so you're on your own there.
Some final travel thoughts
Don't forget your Tour Permit (now "Tour Plan")! You don't need much detail about your travel plans, just "From", "To", and "Distance", and the distance can be an approximation. And yes, the Philmont Registration people do check your Tour Permit/Plan so have it ready when you walk in.
If you are unfamiliar with where you are going or any of the routes you are taking be sure to have maps. I left home with only a map of Colorado Springs but I knew the route pretty well. In fact, from previous visits there I had a pretty good knowledge of the basic layout of Colorado Springs. The map was just to fill in the details. I picked up an Oklahoma map at a rest area so I would be able to navigate through the Oklahoma City/Norman area but other than that I didn't need it.
GPS — I had my first experience with an in-vehicle GPS on this trip. We had a Magellan™ in our vehicle. I have since bought my own and have learned, both with the Magellan and with my TomTom™ not to rely slavishly on them. When we were in Limon, CO we entered Colorado Springs as our destination. Rather than take us on the shortest/fastest route (US Rte. 24) the GPS wanted us to take I-70 to Denver then I-25 to Colorado Springs. And for miles and miles and miles down 24 it kept wanting us to turn around at the next intersection and go back to I-70. I've noticed that my TomTom relies heavily on Interstates and the shortest route to the closest Interstate. This is not necessarily the shortest or fastest route to my ultimate destination. On the other hand, when you're in an unfamiliar town or city and are looking for a restaurant or the local WalMart they'll take you right to where you want to go.
Have at least 2 cell-phones with you while travelling — preferrably on different carriers. This gives you a greater chance that you'll get a signal when you're out in the boonies.
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