The first of more than 24,000 scouts began arriving in New Mexico for their seven-to-12-day trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, N.M., on June 8. This summer more than 8,000 of those scouts will be arriving at Raton, N.M., on the Amtrak Southwest Chief.
Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s largest National High Adventure Base. Founded in 1938, Philmont has become a center for backpacking and training. It covers 140,177 acres of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern New Mexico. Philmont Scout Ranch operates 35 staffed camps and 55 trail camps. More than 1 million scouts have experienced Philmont since its first camping season, and this summer will be the busiest because the ranch was closed most of last summer due to forest fires.
Dominic Baima, marketing manager for the Philmont Scout Ranch says, “The scouts will make their way to Cimarron, and then we will bus them out to the backcountry where they will hike and backpack the beautiful mountains of Northwest New Mexico. They go through different program activities such as leadership building and team building during their journey. It’s the pinnacle of the scouting experience.”
On the importance of the Southwest Chief to the scout ranch, Baima says, “We have many scouts coming from the far west and the far east, and the train offers a safe transportation route for them to make their way out here. It’s just an awesome experience and part of the Philmont experience. If we take out that opportunity to ride the train, we’re going to have trouble with those scouts that are really far out on the east or west coast. A bus would add two or three more days to the trip, and we’re already struggling with advisors taking vacation time.”
On June 8, there were over 70 scouts and their advisors that arrived in Raton on Amtrak No. 3, the westbound Southwest Chief. Before taking the bus to the scout ranch, they spent time in Raton visiting local shops and eating lunch.