“Climb every mountain” was the theme for Boy Scouts of America Troop 26 of Lyme/Old Lyme this summer. Troop 26 was selected by lottery to attend a challenging seven-day-adventure at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico this August.
Philmont is the premier high adventure camp for scouts. Founded through the generosity of Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips over 75 years ago, the ranch covers over 214 square miles and hosted 22,500 scouts this year.
Troop 26 spent 18 months training for this trip to perfect their backpacking and back country survival skills. Because of the rigorous nature of this adventure, Philmont requires scouts to be of high school age. Once selected to attend, the scouts form a crew and elect their own leaders.
During their stay at Philmont, the scouts run every aspect of their trip including land navigation, meal preparation, water purification and – perhaps, the most important – how to keep their campsite free from critters (such as bears!) by using tree-hung bear bags.
Philmont runs a number of different treks so crews are spread out over the entire ranch. The Troop 26 crew participated in a very challenging trek that included 14-mile-hikes with backpacks weighing over 50 pounds, summiting the iconic Tooth of Time peak at over 9,000 feet and camping on Uracca Mesa at over 7,000 feet.
The crew also enjoyed horseback riding, challenge events and opportunities to engage with historical role players.
Another activity in which the crew participated while at Philmont was to volunteer on a conservation project that cleared up a section of the forest floor to minimize the damage that could be caused by a wildfire.
If any youth is interested in joining the Troop, meetings are on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the Lyme Firehouse.