GOMER — Three adults and five youth in Boy Scout Troop 84 out of Gomer planning a big trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico this month are making alternate plans.
Philmont is the mecca for Boy Scouts, providing an outdoors experience like no other.
Unfortunately, wildfires that have developed in and around the area have caused Scout officials at Philmont to shut things down until mid-July. The group had planned to leave the Lima area on Saturday and were expecting to be on the trail by June 19.
“The whole process takes approximately a year and a half to two years. There is a process where you have to apply to go out there, then you have to be accepted and then from there you have to build your trek, do the fundraising, get your team prepared for it, do all of the training for it and then actually go out and do it,” said Chad Bryan, an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 84.
His son Dylan, 15, a Life Scout, is disappointed they won’t be able to make the trip.
“It’s kind of disappointing in the aspect of somewhere possibly around late 2016 we were planning to go out to Philmont. We started paying somewhere in early 2017 and as we were getting it all together we were buying all of this gear and next thing you know, there’s a wildfire and everything’s canceled,” he remarked.
Troop 84 was notified Monday night that Philmont shut down activities of all of the trips through July 14.
“I’m really disappointed. For a trip that big there’s the financial aspect. I’ve done a lot of training. I’ve lost 60 pounds to get ready because there are some pretty stringent physical requirements, and I’m not upset about that part, but the problem that we have is that it’s hard for a 12-day trip, for adults specifically, to be able to coordinate to get that much vacation at once at work. It’s hard with youth these days to get the hours around their summer band practices and all of the family vacations and things like that,” said Bryan.
Troop 84 isn’t the only Boy Scout group from this area that is affected.
“We were going as a troop. There is also a Council contingent that was going out, people all over the Black Swamp Area Council that’s it’s affecting, but the day after we were canceled we called Rocky Mountain National Park and early in the day we were already the 27th Scout unit that had called them, trying to make alternate plans,” said Bryan.
But those alternate plans are coming together quickly.
“We started planning about as soon as we found out what we could do. We didn’t know what our options were. I’ve had to buy gear for two of us. I’m easily a couple of thousand dollars into gear because when you’re planning a backpacking trip and you’re going to be out for 12 days, usually the lighter the gear, the more expensive it is. So we decided that we’re still trying to put together a backpacking trip. We’re going to hop a couple of national parks. We’re talking about Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, going through Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Pike’s Peak, places like that. Because it’s changed, we’re having to acquire some different gear that might have been made available to us at Philmont — bear bags, cook gear, stuff like that,” said Chad.
Chad says he’s been assured that refunds for the canceled trip will be coming.
“We had to not only try to put a fun trip together but do it without a refund so we’re putting more money out there and try and do it in the same type of conditions, the same type of area we that were planning for Philmont. There comes a lot more difficulties with it, but there’s a lot more possibilities. We’ve been training these boys for as leaders for a year and a half. Two of us had to go out and do a 16-hour wilderness first aid course to plan for these so we’re going to be putting our skills to test now in more of an unsupervised, uncontrolled environment with a lot of different factors involved,” said Bryan.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.
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