1. What is Philmont?
Philmont is short for Philmont Scout Ranch, an approximately 137,000 acre (215 square mile) working ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico, largely donated by Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips to the Boy Scouts of America for use as a High Adventure base.  Most of the ranch consists of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) range of the Rockies.
2. What is a Philmont trek?
A Philmont trek is a 12-day High Adventure backpacking hike by a crew of Scouts or Venurers and Scouters through the backcountry of Philmont Scout Ranch, camping overnight at a variety of staffed and unstaffed camps, and participating in a series of programs relating to Western history and other activities.
3. What is "The Watchu Experience?”
The Watchu Experience is the name given to Patriots' Path Council's eighteen-month long program of teenage high adventure and preparing crews for a Philmont trek.
4. What is included in the Watchu Experience fee?
The Watchu Experience Fee includes 18-months of preparation (monthly crew and family gatherings, four Advisor Briefings, and a May weekend of crew self-evaluation called the Watchu Mountain Adventure), a tour of the front range of the Colorado Rockies, rafting the Arkansas River, and twelve days backpacking at Philmont. Click HERE for a complete list of all that is included.
5. What is the size and make-up of a Philmont crew?
A Philmont crew is a group of up to twelve (12) youth and adults, with a minimum of two (2) adults, and maximum of four (4) over the age of 21.
6. What are the requirements to be eligible to join a Philmont crew?
Youth members of a crew must be at least 14 years old at the time of participation, OR 13-years-old and have completed 8th grade.  All crew members, both youth and adults, must be registered members of the Boy Scouts of America.
7. How does one apply to be a member of a Patriots' Path Philmont crew?
There are almost always openings for individuals in crews going to Philmont the coming summer - anyone interested should submit an individual application as soon as possible.
For the summer of the following year (18 months away), applications for units are accepted after December 1 and for individuals after January 1. Unit applications must be submitted by the Friday before the fourth Tuesday of January to participate in the Watchu Selection Process held at 7:00pm prior to the January High Adventure Committee meeting. The Watchu Selection Process is used to allocate the crew allocations in the five Patriots' Path contingents and to develop a Waiting List, if necessary. Individuals will be assigned to less than full crews before September. There is no charge to units to participate in the crew assignment Watchu Selection Process; individuals should submit the required deposit (a portion of which is non-refundable) with their application.
8. How does the January Watchu Selection Process work?
Patriots' Path Council is typically assigned a total of 20 crews by Philmont, forming five contingents of four crews each arriving separate days in late June through mid-July. Units submitting a crew application must rank their preference for the five dates. Preference is given to District Provisional Crews, to units participating in a Sabattis Canoe Trek for the coming summer, and any units that participateed in the prior Watchu Selection Process but remain on the Waiting List. Crews get their highest preferred date that is available when they are selected. Once all crew allocations have been assigned, the selection process continues to establish a Waiting List, if necessary. Units submitting a crew application after the Watchu Selection Process deadline will be placed at the end of the Waiting List in the order received.
9. What is a District Provisional Crew?
Every Patriots' Path Council District is encouraged to organize a provisional crew for individuals and small units.  Up to six members of a District Provisional Crew can be from the same unit.  If leadership is in place prior to the deadline for the January Watchu Selection Process, District Provisional Crews will be given priority for selecting which contingent (travel dates) is preferred.  Contact your District Executive immediately if you are interested in a District Provisional Crew.
10. How does the Waiting List work?
Members of units assigned a crew allocation in a Patriots' Path Council Philmont expedition must submit individual applications and deposits by the deadline specified to confirm their participation. A crew allocation that is not confirmed by submitting applications and deposits will be offered to the unit that is next on the Waiting List. Council units participating in the Watchu Selection Process that are on the Waiting List after September 1 will be given priority for a allocation in the next Watchu Selection Process.
11. Can a unit submit more than one crew application?
No, units may submit only one application for participation in the Watchu Selection Process. A second crew from a unit will be considered only if there are open crew allocations in the Council contingent after the mid-February deadline for submitting individual applications and deposits.
12. Can an out-of-council unit submit a crew application to participate in the January Watchu Selection Process?
No, but a crew from an out-of-Council unit can submit a Crew Application and will be considered if there is a open allocation in a Council contingent after the Watchu Selection Process.
13. What happens if fewer than 20 crews sign up for Patriots' Path Council contingents?
If by the mid-February Advisor Orientation there are fewer than 20 crews, crews will be advised there is the possibility of one or more contingents being cancelled on May 1. Crews may either be re-assigned to fill an open allocation in a different contingent (based on their indicated preferences on their Crew Application) or dropped if there is no open allocation available to them. Note that it is expected that during the mid-February to May 1 period that additional crews will be recruited and all crews assigned a crew allocation in the Watchu Selection Process will ultimately be accommodated in a Patriots' Path Council contingent.
14. What happens to the applications and deposits for individuals in crews subject to possible re-assignment to a different contingent?
Individuals in crews subject to possible re-assignment will be asked if re-assignment is acceptable to them. If such re-assignment is acceptable, their application will be processed and deposit cashed. If unacceptable, their application and deposit will be held until either they are assigned to their preferred contingent or notified that their preferred contingent is unavailable. If unavailable, their deposit will be returned to them.
15. What happens to the applications and deposits for individuals in crews in contingents subject to possible cancellation?
Applications and deposits for individuals in crews assigned subject to possible cancellation will be held until such time that it is decided that the contingent will not be cancelled. If on May 1 a contingent must be cancelled, individuals will be given the option of participating in another crew with less than 12 members on a provisional basis or their application and deposit will be returned. Units denied a crew allocation due to the cancellation of a contingent will be guaranteed acceptance in their preferred contingent the following year.
16. What is a crew number, and how does that differ from an expedition number or a unit number?
Each Philmont crew is assigned a unique identifier, which is called both a crew and an expedition number.  It is a three digit, one letter, and option additional digit format, which identifies the date of arrival at Philmont, which expedition or contingent arriving that day, and a supplemental number if the crew is in a contingent with multiple crews.  For example a crew with the crew (expedition) number of 630H6 would arrive at Philmont on 630 (June 30th), would be the Hth group of crews arriving that day, and would be the sixth crew within that group.  The full group of crews would also be known as contingent (or expedition) 630H.  Crew or expedition number is different from unit number, which is the designation for a crew member's home Boy Scout troop or Venturing crew and is unrelated to Philmont.
17. As Philmont and the Watchu Experience both appear to have their own special vocabularies, is there a list of terms with their definitions as they relate to Philmont and Watchu?
A list of terms used at Philmont and during the Watchu Experience entitled 'Philmont Nomenclature' has been prepared and posted on this Web site at 'Trek Preparation'.
18. What published resources are available to prepare Philmont crews, and when are they issued?
The following documents, listed in the order they are issued with a short description of their contents, are available for the preparation of Philmont crews:
  • Watchu Crew Member and Parent Guide – given to the lead Advisors at the February Advisor Orentation - specific information about the Watchu Experience and Philmont (one per crew member)
  • Watchu Advisor Guide – given to the Lead Advisors at the September Lead Advisor Conference - specific information for crew advisors (one per advisor).
  • Philmont Council and Unit Planning Guide  - general information (available online)
  • BSA Annual Health and Medical Record – a multi-part form, including participation advisories and height/weight chart (available on-line)
  • Philmont TREKS Itinerary Guide - mailed to each crew in March – detailed description of each available itinerary, including camp information and programs (one per crew)
  • Philmont Guidebook to Adventure – mailed to each crew in March – invaluable pocket-sized reference, including equipment lists, health and safety guidelines, program descriptions and much more (one per crew member)
  • Philmont Overall (Souvenir) Map – mailed to each crew in March – smaller scale (1"=4,000') map for planning purposes (one per crew, additional copies available from Tooth of Time Traders)
  • Philmont Eagles Soaring High – issued after arrival at Philmont – pocket-sized devotional booklet for Christians, Muslims, and Jews (one per crew member)
19. In addition to the fee paid directly to Patriots' Path Council and the purchase of personal equipment, what other expenses should be expected?
Each crew needs to establish a budget and designate a banker or treasurer to handle the funds (a great job for a parent to take on in support of the crew!) for crew expenses. The amount will vary from crew to crew, and should (at a minimum) provide food and fuel for shakedown hikes and any special crew apparel such as T-shirts, hats, or neckerchiefs. Other things that might be considered for the crew budget include fees for CPR and First Aid training, ground transportation to and from the airport and whether crew gear such as stoves must be purchased.
20. If a crew member must drop out of a crew, who needs to be notified and when?
If a crew member must drop out of a crew, the Watchu Administrator should be notified immediately.  Council may know of someone looking for a allocation in a Philmont crew, and any refund of fees is based upon monies that have not been committed to expenses to that point in time.  If Council does not have a waiting list, every effort must be made to fill the allocation – the Patriots' Path contingent fee is calculated presuming each available allocation is filled, and unfilled allocations are a financial hardship on the Council and future contingents.
21. What recognitions and awards are available to members of Philmont crews?
Awards and Recognitions describes those available to crew members from Patriots' Path Council, Blue Sky Adventures (Colorado Tour operator), Philmont, and the Boy Scouts of America.
22. Can merit badges be earned while at Philmont?
While there are no formal merit badge programs at Philmont, there are several that, if managed properly, can be accomplished in conjunction with the Philmont experience.  Backpacking, Camping, Hiking and Orienteering are a few examples.  Scouts and merit badge counselors should work out the details before traveling to Philmont.  Many requirements can be satisfied during your training program or while at Philmont.  Advisors can certify in writing the completion of specific requirements, which will honored by council approved Merit Badge Counselors.
23. Is the advisor's fee for going to Philmont, or for equipment such as boots or a sleeping bag, tax deductible?
This is one question Chief Watchu is not qualified to answer - as they say, contact a tax advisor.  However, unofficially, yes, some money adult volunteers spend on scout training, equipment, program fees, uniforms, miles driven, and travel is tax deductible.  The advisor must first be a qualified BSA leader, and then it depends on how much of the expense is specifically allocated to scouting and the Philmont activities.  Since all Philmont advisors must be a registered member and official adult volunteer leader of the Boy Scouts of America, they should qualify for some tax deductions.
24. Will the crew advisors be issued name badges?
Advisor nameplates, include a BSA logo, will be produced and are expected to be delivered at the March Advisor Briefing.  Check with the Watchu Administrator at the back of the room.  The name will be as recorded on the Name Plate Form submitted at the January Advisor Briefing.
25. Does Chief Watchu want to be copied on the e-mails sent to our crew’s family network?
Thanks for asking, but Ol’ Chief Watchu would be overwhelmed if each crew sent him copies of the Family Network e-mails.