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Rain or shine, backcountry camps scatter home

June 6, 2023 — For not having any crews in base yet, the Welcome Center is abuzz. Backcountry staff move boxes of gear across the wooden tables, watching as a dark cloud forms across the top of Urraca and thunder echoes in the distance.


“Every single one of the scatters, it rained.” said Juan Lopez, a backcountry manager. “The moment where everyone is like, “Alright, it’s time to go!” it started pouring.”


Scatter is 3 days at the beginning of the Philmont season when the whole ranch comes together to move backcountry staff to their new homes. It takes a mass of people to help move all 32 camps to the backcountry.

Rain or shine, Scatter is an important part of Philmont’s journey to prepare for crew arrivals for the season. Through a tightly-scheduled process with its fair share of unforeseen issues, all 32 of Philmont’s staff camps, from Rich Cabins to Rayado, all staff camps must deploy with supplies, commissary food, program equipment, personal gear, and most importantly, their staffers for the summer. It is a herculean effort over the course of three long days and nights.


“My favorite part is seeing all the different departments working together, and watching the staff arrive at their camp. They’re always really, really excited,” remarked Lopez.


Leading up to Scatter, backcountry staff participate in long days of training to prepare for their work, from first aid to camp maintenance, and everything in between. Their bags are packed within large wire carts in the warehouse, sorted out by camp.


2023 Scatter Day 2 following Miners Park staff as they load up vehicles and prepare for scatter, arrive at Miners park and unload, and get things cleaned up before the start of the season. Camp Director of Miners Park Samuel Senseman lead his team to an efficient start of the 2023 year. Photo by Becker Griffin.

“I’m ready to go,” said Ryan Gates, an interpretive program counselor at Rich Cabins this year. “We’re a bit tired of being cooped up in base and we’re ready to go do it.”


For some staffers, working at Philmont has been a long time coming. “I was registered for a trek in 2018, which got pushed to 2020 because of the fire. My brother is a Service Academy Ranger and he got me interested in Philmont.” said Rowan McConvey, a program counselor at Metcalf. Although Philmont staffers come from a wide range of backgrounds and interests, one of many unifying factors is their excitement for

the start of a new summer season.


“I’m most excited to just get out there. I look forward to taking care of the animals, like goats and cows, and changing lives,” Gates remarks. “I like getting to know crews as they have experiences that can’t found anywhere else in Scouting.” Many of the backcountry staff interviewed also cited campfire shows, meeting new people, exploring new camps, and directing programs with crews as some of the best parts of their job at Philmont.


“It feels like we’re returning to a sense of normalcy,” said Jake Hoelscher, backcountry manager. “This is our first year having a couple years back in a row. We are now starting to rebuild some of that institutional knowledge. It’s a lot smoother now than it has been, in my opinion.”


“I’m looking forward to [backcountry staff] waiting on their porch for Scouts to show up, having everything ready for them,” added Lopez.


2023 Scatter Day 2 following Miners Park staff as they load up vehicles and prepare for scatter, arrive at Miners park and unload, and get things cleaned up before the start of the season. Camp Director of Miners Park Samuel Senseman lead his team to an efficient start of the 2023 year. Photo by Becker Griffin.

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