The crew carried everything it needed to survive while hiking from camp to camp. The group participated in backcountry programs along the way, including burro racing, skeet shooting, power-rifle firing, spar-pole climbing and gold prospecting (which included a tour of an old gold mine). The trek also included a conservation project where the Scouts learned about and participated in the upkeep of Philmont’s ecosystem. Along the trek, the crew endured tough challenges, including backpacking in bear and cougar country, steep climbs and often-inclement weather that ranged from dust storms to lightning and from hail to deep mud.
The crew made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage with their trip to Philmont. Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high-adventure camp and the largest youth camp in the world serving nearly one million participants since 1938. The goal of Philmont is for each group of Scouts to enjoy the ranch without infringing on any other group there.
Venturing is open to teenage boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 20 and is entirely youth led, from the planning and training to map reading, campsite setup and maintenance. “The crew leader for the trek, Kimberly Livers (a senior at University City High School), did an excellent job over the past year getting the crew ready to go,” said DeEtte Loeffler the adult trek advisor for the trip. Other key youth leaders for the trek were Hannah Olson (a junior at Point Loma High School), who oversaw the crew’s practice of “leave no trace” principles; and chaplain’s aide Katya De Merritt (a senior at University City High School) who led the crew through devotions and oversaw daily prayers.
“Our youth are also very active in the Scouting community, sharing what they know,” said crew advisor Stan Miller of Point Loma. “They have served as instructors for National Youth Leadership Training and National Advance Youth Leadership Experience, as well as teaching at the University of Scouting.” Several crew members also participate in Sea Scouting, which helps youth to develop leadership as well as water craft operation and safety skills. Crew 500 is sponsored by St. Agnes Catholic Church in Point Loma.
For more information, visit venturing.sdicbsa.org/index.php.