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Philmont’s first licensed therapist helps staffers adjust

When participants or staffers were struggling, the primary resource was Chaplains. Luke Arnold, Philmont’s first therapist, is offering campers another option.

Arnold believes that a therapist is a complement to the Chaplains’ service. Because he is licensed, he can offer particular clinical guidance that Chaplains may be unable to do, such as professional judgments or recommending outside therapy.

Arnold is an Eagle Scout and has been involved with the program since his time in Cub Scouts. At Philmont, he worked a year in Welcome Center, two years as a Backcountry Program Coordinator, and another two years as a Backcountry Camp Director.

The conversation began about a year ago when Arnold, attending a Philmont webinar, heard Philmont leadership discussing mental wellness. Over the next eight months, there would be multiple conversations about Arnold’s role. Training staff, providing consultations for doctors, and providing counseling services are the top priorities of his work.

Arnold meets with clients in 30-minute sessions; his primary focus is stabilizing their mood and getting them back on the ranch. He says that the most common type of affliction is what’s known as an adjustment disorder. Adjustment to a new environment, the pace of the ranch, and adjusting to having no support systems are some common examples Arnold sees.

Arnold has been in the mental health industry for 24 years, owning his practice and providing school counseling services. He plans to retire from education within the next few years and hopes the program evolves into something bigger.

Luke Arnold poses for a headshot outside the Philmont Infirmary on June 18, 2023 in Cimarron, N.M. Photo by Colette Pippin.

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