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Programs have evolved over the years with a summer backpacking experience being the most popular. Scouts spend twelve days in this beautiful and rugged land being challenged by the high peaks of the Magic Mountains, breathing the ponderosa pine, lying down in the high mountain meadows, meeting the mountain men and women of long ago, learning the ways of the native peoples, and standing in awe of the courage of out American and Mexican pioneers. During their hike, Scouts experience rock climbing, shooting sports, gold panning and horse rides, just to name a few activities. They also learn conservation of the land through Leave No Trace camping and a project that improves Philmont.
In 1870, Maxwell sold his ranch to an English land company known as the Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company, whose attempts to remove squatters led a bloody struggle which came to be called the Colefax County War. The land grant was subsequently acquired by Dutch interests and eventually was sold in tracts for farms and ranches.
"The only things we keep are those we give away"
- Waite Phillips
Waite Phillips donated most of the land that is now Philmont Scout Ranch to the Boy Scouts of America
In the early 1920s oil man Waite Phillips purchased 350,000 acres of the famous land grant, including Rayado and the homes of Lucien Maxwell and Kit Carson. He closed the Magic Mountains to commercial operations and developed the now world-famous Philmont Ranch. Between 1938 and 1941 he donated one third of the property, including the Maxwell and Carson National Historic Sites, to the Boy Scouts of America. In 1963 another generous donation of land from Norton Clapp, vice-president of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, added over 10,000 acres of land to the Scout Ranch. Currently, the size of the ranch is 137,493 acres. As one passes under the ranch gateway a sign reads these properties are:
"Dedicated to the purpose of perpetuating Faith, Self-reliance, Integrity, and the Freedom Principles used to build this great country so that these Scouts, by the inspiration of nature, will diligently maintain the high ideals of the pioneer and the pathway to our destiny......... Waite Phillips, December 31, 1941