Local troop members take trip to Philmont Scout Ranch

Every day at the Philmont Scout Ranch, 32 groups of 12 people start out on a 10-day trek where they learn to fly-fish, live on a trail and work on a working cattle ranch.

This summer, 12 scouts from Wolfforth Troop 575, one from Lubbock Troop 140 and three from Levelland were among those who experienced the trek through the New Mexico wilderness. Activities at the camp, located near Cimarron, include rock climbing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, gold prospecting and the study of conservation, ecology and nature.

The 16 scouts between the ages of 14 and 18 were accompanied by eight adults. They were split into two groups of 12, the largest size group allowed at the Philmont Scout Ranch.

Rayburn Wenner, a former scout master and a committee member for Troop 575, was in charge of the trek. This was his first time at Philmont.

“It’s a really neat experience. There are lots of things to learn,” said Wenner. “It’s quite an operation. It’s pretty phenomenal that they can run that many scouts through.”

Locally, Wenner said the scouts in Troop 575 go camping about a month, but he said driving to a camp site and camping beside a car is not quite the same experience as that at Philmont.

“We hardly ever carry our tents and everything we’d need to survive for 10 days. It’s just an easy by-the-road camp,” said Wenner.

The boys did not see any bears in Philmont, which is famous for being in bear territory.

“There was talk of bears in other treks that we met along the trails, but we didn’t see any. We saw about every other form of wildlife there was. We saw elk, and we saw deer. The deer was what we saw the most, and out in the back country, they’re really not afraid of you,” said Wenner. “A big emphasis (at Philmont) is put on making sure the boys know how to protect nature.”

Wenner said one of the most interesting things about the camp was learning about the camp’s previous owner, Waite Phillips, who donated the 214 square miles of land to the Boy Scouts. Phillips’ brothers were the founders of Phillips Petroleum, and Waite Phillips was also in oil and real estate.

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