Editor's Note: AndrÃ&Copy; Sauer traveled to New Mexico with scouts from the local area. Here is his first person account of the trip.Philmont is a wilderness scout ranch established in 1938 by Wade Phillips, who donated his 137,493 acre parcel of land to the Boy Scouts of America. It is located near the town of Cimarron in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico.

The ranch is currently in use as a National High Adventure Base in which crews of scouts take part in backpacking routes and other outdoor activities. It is the largest camp in the world by staff size and number of daily participants. Every year around 20,000 trekkers hike through the back country, about several hundred each day.

The purpose of a Philmont trek is to build character, become more physically and mentally mature, take in the wilderness experience and have fun! Long days of hiking, and tedious tasks at camp encourages discipline in a person.

Hanging up bear bags at night to prevent a bear intrusion, and doing other outdoor activities and tasks is different than the usual summer routine.

The physical challenge one endures there strengthens the body and mind. Only another Philmont trek will seem challenging once you have returned. Witnessing the beauty of the Sangre de Christo Mountains never fails to inspire someone to appreciate the beauty of nature. Being able to hike up a mountain peak in the morning to see the sunrise, all the while enjoying that feeling of accomplishment is awesome.

Last of all, the Philmont experience is there for enjoying. Whether it's satisfaction and accomplishment from a long hike, or doing something fun such as gold panning, rock climbing, or shooting, it is a great way to spend a summer.

Our trek at Philmont was arranged by the Hawk Mountain Council. They allowed troops to sign up and travel as a council contingency. This proved more effective than signing up individually, and risking the possibility of being eliminated from the Philmont lottery.

The entire Hawk Mountain contingency was 42 people. The troops represented were Birdsboro, 529 and 595; Knauers, 241; Pine Grove, 611; Exeter, 319; Schuylkill Haven, 625; Leesport, 190; Wyomissing, 413; Reading, 330.

The minimum age requirement is 14, however many older teens and several adults participated. Within our troop, 319, two crews took shape.

My itinerary would be a total of 69 miles with side hikes. The other crew would hike a different itinerary, which was a total of 103 miles. Most of the older boys would travel on the more difficult trek. The boys in our crew were all 14. Our crew was composed of the three adults or "crew advisors:" Johann Sauer, Jim Bucciaglia, and John Donovan, our "crew leader," Tommy Bucciaglia, and additional crew members, Neal Donovan, Michael Knoll, Chris Madden, Alex Mislevy, and me, AndrÃ&Copy; Sauer, a total of nine crew members.

Our crew trained for a whole year. Our scoutmaster encouraged us to hike at least once a week and a month before the trip we averaged three hikes a week.

Because of this our hikes seemed less difficult. At the beginning of the trek, the hikes were moderated and allowed us to acclimate to the thinner air of high altitudes. There was only one extreme 14 mile day hike that wiped us out.

The Chuck wagon dinner at Beaubien Camp was our first taste of real food for several days, and we all enjoyed that along with our rest day at Beaubien.

We all agreed that one of our favorite activities was blacksmithing and black powder rifle shooting, and we also had a fun time at the Cimarroncito Camp rock gym.

The most beautiful view we had was watching the sunrise on the peak of the Tooth of Time, being able to see base camp and the town of Cimarron 2,000 feet below.

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