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  • Andreanna Haritopoulos

Kids and Kin

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

PTC Family Programs bring back adventure, quality time for conference attendees

PTC kids and families climb at the Philmont Training Center climbing wall on July 3, 2022. Photo by Chase Ensz.

August 1, 2022 — The Philmont Training Center has often been described as “the best-kept secret in Scouting.” Nestled on the opposite side of the road away from the hustle and bustle of troops at Camping Headquarters, it offers a Philmont magic unique for its own programming experiences.

Though well-renowned for its world-class learning opportunities for Scouting volunteers and professionals, the PTC became a location open to people of all ages who want to experience the beauty of the New Mexican Frontier through its renewed conference spouse and youth programs.

Last season, the traditional family programs were removed, and conference attendee families participated in Family Adventure Camp. They selected their own activities to participate in as a family unit, according to PTC Associate Director, Maddy Houk.

“Our vision is to provide a premier environment for learning, playing, relaxing, and creating lifetime friendships,” Houk said. “So, after a period of restructuring and receiving a lot of feedback that people wanted to see these programs back at the PTC, we decided to bring them back in addition to our family adventure camp program. Now we run both programs simultaneously.”

Small Fry participants draw pictures and use PlayDoh to make figurines at the Philmont Training Center Craft Center in Cimarron, N.M. on July 13, 2022. Photo by Andreanna Haritopoulos.

This year, family programming is back and better than ever. The new “Kids and Kin” program is designed to give individuals an unforgettable adventure at Philmont while their family members participate in PTC conferences.

Participants ranging in age from infants to 18 years old and beyond can engage in a variety of planned activities including shooting sports, climbing wall and high ropes course, craft center, fly fishing, hiking in the backcountry, taking museum tours, horseback riding and more.

After the day’s conference activities are over, the evenings are devoted to family activities and free time, often accompanied by some type of entertainment presented by PTC staff. The Greensward on the PTC lawn is the heart of these events, from dummy cattle-roping on western night to a send-off barbecue at the end of the program week.

One of the central parts of this new programming is that it reassures conference guests that their children are well-taken care of and kept busy throughout the week. The Silverado program provides an opportunity for conference spouses to experience the amenities of the Ranch with other adults as well.

“This week has been great. I love it out here, and I love hiking. So, this program is perfect for that. I can do what I want while my family is doing other things,” Amy Devenport, a Week 6 Silverado participant, said. “Things have certainly changed over the years since I’ve been coming here but never for the worse.”

Last season, youth of all age groups were at times grouped together for program while their parents were occupied with leadership training and meetings. Though there were some benefits to this style of programming, second-year program counselor George Reisinger is happy to have the current style of age-group separation in place.

“I like this year for the opportunity to have more quality time with the kids in their separate age groups,” Reisinger said.

The Family Adventure Camp Small Fries visit the Pony Barn at the Philmont Training Center on June 28, 2022. Photo by Ryan Moore.

Program counselors not only keep children occupied while their parents are away and enjoying their own Philmont activities but also show youth opportunities available across the Ranch. This leadership is key to embracing the culture of Philmont and connecting Training Center activities to the BSA Ideals.

“In working with the younger ones, you get to nurture the spirit of what they may see their older brothers or sisters doing out on a trek,” Reisinger said. “That can make them want to come back as a participant or even staff later on, which is what PTC is all about.”

By providing access to the backcountry and other memory-making opportunities across the Ranch for people of all ages, the Kids and Kin Program is a unique way to expose those who may have just come along for the ride to the magic of Philmont.

Schedules and sign-ups for next year’s conferences, Kids and Kin program and Family Adventure Camp have no official release date, but prospective participants can expect to see itineraries released in the Fall of 2022.

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