Stirring the Fire|
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
National Association of United Methodist Scouters' LiveJournal:
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|Wednesday, January 6th, 2016|
2016 Scout Sunday patch offered
NAUMS is offering this patch for your observance of Scouting Ministries Sunday (Boy Scout Sunday, Girl Scout Sunday . . . ) in 2016. It is the first of a three-part series taken from a trio of stained glass windows at St. Luke's UMC in Memphis, TN. It is 2.5" x 7" in size.
Cost of the patch is $3.50 apiece. All orders, for however many, must be accompanied by $6.25 for shipping. Make checks payable to NAUMS
and mail requests and checks to:
NAUMS c/o Teresa Rector
5355 Chester Street
Arlington, TN 38002
|Monday, March 17th, 2014|
Castleton Scouts Show Their SupportL to R: Mike Chambers, Event Coordinator; Art Collins, Tenke Team Leader; Ian Parent, Troop Committee Chair; Terry Prather, Committee Member (and Mitch's mom).
Boy Scout Troop 276, chartered to Castleton United Methodist Church, held a pancake breakfast and silent auction to raise money for the United Methodist Scout Jamboree to be held in Tenke, Dem. Rep. Congo, this summer. The Crossroads of America Council promoted the event heavily. To date, the Troop has raised $3,720.00 from the breakfast and auction. Dr. Arthur Collins, who is leading the team to Tenke, was invited to Castleton to receive a check representing their profits.
Tenke Team Members David Elser and Mitch Prather are both alumni of this Troop, which currently has over 80 boys registered. Many thanks to the Scouts and Scouters of Troop 276!
|Wednesday, February 19th, 2014|
|Friday, February 14th, 2014|
Here is the new Membership Application for NAUMS. You will note there is currently a special offer to recruit new members: you can now join for 2014 and 2015 for only $20 ($10 per year). This is for new
members only. Send check and form to Teresa Rector at the address on the form. Annual dues for National Direct and Chapter Members remains $30 per year; National Direct members should send their dues to Teresa Rector, while Chapter members should send their dues to their Chapter President or other officer. Life Membership remains $400.
If you have a group of UM Scouters in a given area or District or Conference, why not form a Chapter and join together? Chapters pay an annual fee of $40 to recharter, plus they are required to send $15 per member per year to NAUMS; the Chapter keeps the remainder of the $30 annual dues for their own treasury.
In any case, let's grow this ministry. Let's do great things together!
|Sunday, February 2nd, 2014|
Great Thanksgiving for Scout Sunday
We celebrated Scout Sunday this morning, the first Sunday in February. I know that The UMC designates the second Sunday in February as the primary Sunday. Nobody knows why, though I've heard that maybe it has to do with the first Sunday being a communion Sunday in many churches.
Well, I don't know why we need to avoid communion on a Sunday when there are likely to be many guests. Other charter partners who celebrate communion every Sunday certainly don't NOT do it just because guests are likely to be present. As for the official denominational designation, I've found that all the non-UM Scouts and Scouters are going to show up on the first Sunday anyway, since they get their info from BSA, not The UMC. So, it's just easier to go with the flow.
We usually try to make things special for that day. Some years we emphasize Scouting Ministry more, some years less. This year, I used a Great Thanksgiving I wrote for the United Methodist service at the 1997 National Scout Jamboree. If you'd like to use it in your church, here it is (please give proper credit).Great Thanksgiving
This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!Not to us, O Lord, but to thy Name be glory.
Blessed are those who are invited
to the marriage supper of the Lamb.God has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth,
and who satisfies our deepest longings
with the bread of heaven.
You made all things for our joy.
Even when we misused your gifts
and rejected your messengers,
you did not abandon us to our misery.
You are ever faithful, and the depth of your love for us
is the wonder of all creation.
Therefore, with angels and archangels,
the whole company of heaven
and all your people on earth,
we join in their unending hymn:Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might:
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!
In the fulness of time, you sent your Son to us.
He is the Bread of Life.
He wandered many a dusty trail
looking for his lost sheep.
They heard his voice with joy, as he said,
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
He healed the sick, ate with sinners,
and proclaimed the good news of your kingdom.Lord, I am not worthy
to have you come under my roof;
but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.
On the night that he was betrayed
into the power of his enemies,
he sat at table with his disciples.
He broke bread, gave thanks to you, and said,
"Take, eat: this is my body, given for you."
After supper, he took the cup,
gave thanks to you and said,
"This cup is the New Covenant in my blood,
poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins."
He gave us a new commandment,
that we should love one another as he had loved us.
He called us his friends.
He told us to remember him this way
until he comes again to gather us together
in the kingdom of heaven.
And so we proclaim the mystery of our faith:Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Send down your Holy Spirit to bless this Table
and all who gather about it.
Through the sharing of this bread and this wine
make us one with Christ, one with each other,
and one with the whole Church
in all lands and from all generations.Send forth your Spirit,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.
Father, accept our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with the Holy spirit lives and reigns
with you forever, one God everlasting,
and who in his days on earth
gathered about him his friends
and taught them to pray together like this:Here may be said or sung The Lord's Prayer. . . .
Afterward, the Celebrant breaks the bread and presents
the cup with these words, the People responding:
The gifts of God are for the people of God.Let us keep the feast with joy.
Come, for all things are now ready.Copyright 1997, 2002 Arthur W. Collins,
published in My Lord Knows the Way Through the Wilderness
|Monday, January 27th, 2014|
There's still time to order!
To order this year's Scouting Ministry Sunday patch, please send $3 per patch PLUS $5 shipping PER ORDER to Theresa Rector, NAUMS, c/o Paris FUMC, PO Box 25, Paris, TN 38242. (Sorry, no bulk discounts this year.)
Many churches are celebrating Boy Scout Sunday this coming Sunday; however, many United Methodist congregations celebrate it on February 9. And Girl Scout Sunday is coming on March 9. So get that order in pronto!
A Litany on the Scout/Guide Promise
O Lord, you are Faithful and True,
and your promises stand forever.
Inspire our hearts to dare great things for you,
empower us to accomplish what we profess,
and forgive us when we fall short
of the mark we ourselves have set.Incline our hearts to keep our promises.
We make our promises upon our honor,
but there is no strength in us to keep them
without your aid,
and all the glory of our accomplishments
belongs to you.Incline our hearts to keep our promises.
We promise to do our best
to do our duty to you and to our country,
and to obey the Law both divine and human:
for we believe
that no one can be the best sort of citizen
who does not acknowledge
one's dependence upon you,
and no one can be the best sort of disciple
who does not serve one's country.Incline our hearts to keep our promises.
We promise to help other people at all times,
to see a neighbor in every stranger,
to protect the weak,
comfort the grieving,
encourage the weary,
supply the needy,
without any thought of reward
but your own approval.Incline our hearts to keep our promises.
We promise to keep ourselves strong
for your service,
alert for every challenge,
and not to dull our hunger and thirst
for your righteousness.Incline our hearts to keep our promises,
through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.
-- Arthur W. Collins
reprinted from The Pathfinder
, Volume 6, Issue 2
|Tuesday, May 8th, 2012|
Lunch with James and Jim
I had a delightful lunch at Gray Brothers Cafeteria today with James Mwoho, a District Superintendent from Uganda in the East Africa Annual Conference, and Jim Hertel, pastor of Mt. Auburn UMC up at Greenwood.
Pastor Mwoho was a General Conference delegate. He was visiting for a few days before flying back to Africa. He met Jim on one of Jim's many trips to Uganda. Jim got involved in African missions the way many of us did: somebody invited us, we went intending to do a kind of one-off, found ourselves in relationship with people who now mattered to us, and wound up well and properly hooked.
We talked about Scouting in Africa. Jim was surprised to find out that Scouting began in Africa! Baden-Powell wrote his book for army scouts, Aids to Scouting
as a result of his experiences in the Boer War and in setting up the South African Constabulary thereafter. That later became Scouting for Boys
and you know the rest. Except that non-Scouters probably don't know that beads that are awarded to Wood Badge training graduates originally came off a necklace of beads given to B-P by an African chief named Dinizulu. B-P is also buried in Kenya, where he retired to.
We talked about church, government, and scouting in Uganda. We talked about the Scout Troop at Mt. Auburn and its history and leaders. We talked about making disciples through Scouting Ministry. Some definite, if not yet determined things came out of our meeting.
I made an offer to arrange for some Scouting Ministry training at Local Pastors School in Uganda. If I can't go, I can find someone who will. Moving adults around to do things is expensive, but easy. It's taking kids overseas that's hard.
That said, the Mt. Auburn UMC Scouts are talking about taking their troop to Uganda. I offered to help them with the planning process for such a trip. I also offered to do Scouting Ministry training for Mt. Auburn and its leaders. I thought about trying to get them to go to Congo with us next year, but I fear that would be a distraction. If you're called to Uganda, then go to Uganda, and we'll try to help; meanwhile, if you can promote our Congo trip or find us some money, then God bless you.
Indiana and Africa go back a long way. We have people regularly criss-crossing the ocean from Indiana to do missions in Tanzania and Congo and Uganda. I know other Hoosier UMs who have deep experience in Sierra Leone and Liberia. We're serious about this, and we can be relied upon. Bringing to bear the resources that Hoosier UM Scouters and NAUMS have at their disposal, we can make great impacts upon the mission field. And every time we do, it revitalizes our own churches and fires our youth's hearts with zeal for God.
What a great day to be on the Scouting Trail with Jesus.
-- Art Collins
President of NAUMS
||James Mwoho and Jim Hertel
x-posted from aefenglommung
|Thursday, March 8th, 2012|
Rest in peace
A dear friend and long-time NAUMS Board member, Karen Heim-Baugh, of Evansville, Indiana, died yesterday after a long illness.
|Sunday, February 12th, 2012|
Spreading the Word
Been a long day. But a good
day. Finished off tonight with a NAUMS Board meeting by conference call.
The core issue to be decided was our annual Bible order. NAUMS's signature issue is the Bible Project. We supply backpacker-sized New Testaments to Philmont Scout Ranch and some other places for distribution in chapel settings.
This year, we will supply 1,000 special New Testaments for the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts. About 300 of those are designated for those attending the reunion meeting in July of the Great Girl Scout Hike of the Appalachian Trail. The others will be distributed all over the country by the Directors of NAUMS.
We will be sending 500 NTs to Northern Tier Canoe Base and 500 to Sea Base. Sea Base is an addition to the program this year, and the fulfillment of a promise that's been out there for a while. And, finally, we will send about 5,000 NTs to Philmont.
Funding for all this has come from small gifts and large. It has come from a grant from the UM Men's Foundation. It has come from profits generated by our first-ever sale of Scout Sunday patches (we've sold about 2,000 patches so far this year).
I am immensely proud to be the President of NAUMS and to say, "this is the kind of thing we do."
|Wednesday, January 11th, 2012|
Are you thinking of starting a new scouting program at your church?
Have you been approached by someone wanting to start a scouting program at your church?
Would you like to know how to get the most out of your scouting programs?
Would you like to know how to use scouting ministry to make disciples and grow the church?
Then this is the workshop you’ve been looking for.Making Disciples
Through Scouting Ministry:
a workshop for
pastors, local church leaders,
and scouting volunteers
February 25, 2012
9 a.m.—3 p.m.
Ellettsville First UMC
Sponsored by NAUMS.
Cost is $5 (for lunch).
Register with Art Collins now at
|Tuesday, July 12th, 2011|
2012 Annual Meeting
The 2012 Annual Meeting has changed location and time. We were to meet at the South Central Jurisdiction UM Men's Gathering in Wichita on July 30 at 11:30 a.m. The SCJ UMM have canceled
The NAUMS Annual Meeting will be at the Hampton Inn West in Wichita, KS, at 1:00 p.m. on July 30, 2012. All NAUMS members are welcome to attend and vote on the business. We hope to see you there.
-- Art Collins
|Tuesday, November 30th, 2010|
UM Philmont Trek opportunity
NAUMS has been assigned two crews for a 12-day backpacking trek at Philmont in July, 2012. We are now looking for qualified leadership for these two crews.
*Crew Advisors must be mature and experienced Scouting/Venturing leaders.
*They must be active members of The United Methodist Church, familiar with the concept of Scouting as Ministry.
*They must be able to work well with the NAUMS Board of Directors and with other leaders to recruit, finance, and carry off this program.
NAUMS sponsored its first-ever United Methodist crew at Philmont this past summer. From that experience, we are putting together a program to standardize what we hope to achieve through this ministry. Key to what we expect from the crews we sponsor are the following.
1. NAUMS will provide a devotional and practical outline of doing a trek based in UM spiritual practice. Crews will be expected to use this material. The overall title of our program is "The Children of Jedediah Smith," Smith being the iconic mountain man (and Methodist) who led the opening up of the Rocky Mountains. He is our "patron saint" for this adventure.
2. While at Philmont, the two crews will follow complementary itineraries, which will allow them to meet during the trek (preferably on a layover) and do some important things together. If no clergy are with either crew, then we will try to hook up the two crews at this time with a UM chaplain for a service.
3. We expect our crews to be "co-ed capable." That means the local leadership for each crew must include both male and female leaders.
4. Youth (and adults) attending need to be affiliated in some way with our UM Scouting Ministry. That means that each participant must be either a) a United Methodist oneself, or b) registered in a UM-chartered Troop or Crew. Since this is a church-sponsored trek, the participants will worship together. At some point, holy communion will be offered. This should be made plain to the participants. We welcome non-UMs to participate in our Scouting Ministry, but this is not just another Philmont trek. This is an adventure in spiritual formation as well as one of the premier Scouting experiences.
5. We are attempting to pick Advisors from different parts of the country, in order to spread the opportunity around to do this trek. In addition, Philmont strongly suggests (and we concur) that we should endeavor to have full crews.
A full crew is twelve (12) persons; no more than four can be adults, and if there are fewer than twelve in a crew, adults cannot outnumber youth. So we want Advisors who are open to taking eligible youth from other Troop and Crews with them, as space allows.
5. Philmont's schedule for payments is not flexible. Crew Advisors need to get right on the business of recruiting participants and raising money.
For more information, please contact Art Collins, President of NAUMS. You may also reply through this LiveJournal/Facebook posting with your e-mail address.
|Thursday, July 29th, 2010|
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part IX
Home again, home again, jiggety jog
On our last day at Philmont, there was much to do, at least for me and Makayla. Check-out isn’t as stressful as check-in, but you have to go to each station (Camping, Logistics, Services, etc.) and get signed out. She and I took care of the bureaucracy while the others ate ice cream and played cards at the Tooth of Time Traders. We joined them when everything was taken care of, with time to spare for some last minute shopping.
We left Base Camp about ten o’clock. I felt like a man on the moon, like I only weighed one-sixth my earthbound weight. Not having a pack on was an amazing experience!
We drove down to the little village of Rayado to visit Kit Carson’s home and the old inn there. Bought some souvenirs. Then it was back to Cimarron for a big lunch at Heck’s Diner, after which it was time to shop for the homebound trip and head out of town.
Our first day back was to be an easy one. We went no farther than Clayton Lake State Park, NM, barely a hundred miles from Philmont. There’s a nice lake there, and some interesting dinosaur tracks down by the dam. We relaxed. Our first supper on the road home was corn on the cob and boiled potatoes (with lots of real butter), cottage cheese and fresh tomatoes – and bacon. Bacon makes everything better.
The next day was a long, long drive across Oklahoma. We stopped for lunch at a roadside picnic table outside Slapout, OK. It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. My A/C was acting up, so we stopped in Woodward, OK, and got a new doohickey for it that restored it, more or less. After eleven hours’ travel, we pulled in just at dusk to Twin Bridges State Park between Tulsa and Joplin. Cicadas were humming in the trees, and the humidity would have taken the starch out of a fireplace poker. A gibbous moon with a halo sailed overhead next to a twinkling Antares. It looked like rain, but it was just Midwest humidity.
We spent a restless, hot night, but got up and out of camp in good order. As we went through Springfield, MO, we stopped to tour the big Bass Pro Shop there. They had a champion stuffed alligator gar over eight feet long. As we passed through Missouri, the kids began pointing out all the “Adult Superstore” billboards, just like when we passed through on our way west. Poor Missouri: their new motto must be The Porn State.
As we got close to Indiana, we called ahead to tell people we were coming. I put Carmina Burana
into my CD player and cranked it up loud. We made our last stop in Terre Haute, and cruised (quietly now) over familiar country, arriving home at 7:30 p.m. We set up the tents to air out, got everybody’s gear sorted out, had a prayer and went home to sleep in our own beds once again.Looking ahead
This year’s United Methodist Trek is now history. I will report to the NAUMS Board and the Scouting Ministry Committee at Nashville on how it went this fall. But the question remains, what now?
I’m sure that NAUMS wants to do this again. We’d like to have a regularly occurring UM Trek at Philmont. Once a quadrennium, every other year, who knows? That’s still to decide.
Also still to decide is the mode of our offering. We tried to do a national call and put together a scratch Trek with youth from all over, and it didn’t work. Maybe if we advertised it differently or something, it would work. Maybe now that we’ve done it, it’ll work better next time. But maybe we need to do as Councils do, and whenever it comes time to do a UM Trek, pick crew advisors, train them to do a program that embodies our values as UM Scouters, and let them take people from their locales. Or, maybe we need to offer a weeklong UM Mountain Man/Woman Trek during Relationships Week. All these options will be on the table this fall as we critique the past and plan the future. If anybody out there’s got an idea on how we ought to go about doing a UM Trek at Philmont, let me know.
The Rev. Arthur W. Collins, Ph.D.
President of NAUMS
Pastor, Ellettsville First UMC
Venturing Crew 119 Advisor
Rougher Tougher Buffer Duffer
Kit Carson's home and trading post are still there, along the Santa Fe Trail
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part VIII
The next day, we got up when the stars were still out and were on the trail shortly after six. Scott noted some fresh bear tracks as we left, but we saw no bears. We ate breakfast at the Hunting Lodge, then crossed the valley through a new demonstration forest to Clark’s Fork, one of Philmont’s several cowboy camps. I noticed that while we were out on the western border of Philmont, we didn’t meet so many other crews, but ever since Crooked Creek, the traffic had been steadily increasing. We were now in the midst of many itineraries, and among the many crews intending to finish the trek by hiking in over the Tooth of Time. Clark’s Fork was crowded.
We were up early because we had a 9:00 a.m. appointment for horse rides at Clark’s Fork. We made it there by eight. Melodie, Makayla, Ben, and Jordan went for a morning ride while Scott, Kaleb, Connor, and I set up camp. Then it was Nap Time!
In addition to horse rides, the program at Clark’s Fork included roping and branding (boots, hats, etc. – not live cows). And in the evening, there was a Chuckwagon Dinner, which means we got to eat Real Food ™ -- that we didn’t have to cook! The menu was beef stew (very good), home-made biscuit, and peach cobbler: all you could eat, and that was a lot for a bunch of hungry teenagers and their advisors!
After the dinner came a great campfire. The oldest staff member wore a Hawaiian shirt under his western vest. He was playing a washtub bass. Someone said he looked cool. He replied, “Cool follows me like a stray dog.”
It was Sunday again, a very full day, as all the days at Philmont are. We hadn’t had a chance to do church yet. So here, on our last night on the trail, we gathered in the dark and did our devotions. I told them once again that the only two things I can guarantee will happen when you go to the wilderness is that somewhere out there you will meet God, and you will meet yourself. I asked them where they had done so, and they each said something about what they’d experienced and what they’d made of those encounters. It filled me with a quiet joy to hear them talk about God – as I had heard them talk to
God over this trek. Surely, he has them each in his hands, and has laid the trail at their feet that each should walk. We celebrated holy communion once again. And then it was time for bed.The way home is over that ridge
Our last day on the trail also started in the wee hours. By my reckoning, we had nine and a half miles to go. Others said it was at least fourteen miles back to Base Camp. Whoever was right about the mileage, I had done this schlep twice before, and I knew that it would be grueling.
As we were packing up to go, Kaleb, who had refused all offers of help prior to this, asked me to fix his feet, where he had a fine crop of blisters. I’ve become the foot doc by default over the years, and I’ve padded and patched quite a number of owies. As I dressed Kaleb’s sores, it suddenly came to me that fixing blisters is like washing feet, and that it is a very Jesus-like thing to do.
We left camp at 6:15 a.m. and climbed steadily up to Shaeffer’s Pass, some thirteen hundred feet above us. We got there at 8:30, utterly spent. We had breakfast and some slept. Scott, Connor, and I went to find the spring in the Pass – our last source of water before Base Camp. We topped everything off and purified it. Then we started up around Shaeffer’s Peak to get onto Tooth Ridge.
Tooth Ridge is a very tough trail, not only physically but mentally. People start to give up because they’re anticipating getting in off the trail. It makes the ups and downs of actually hiking the trail more difficult than it should be. As the Emmaus people say, “Don’t anticipate!” I gave a pep talk on this at one point where crew members were beginning to whine because the trail was difficult and the Tooth didn’t appear just when they were ready to climb it.
We finally did reach the trail at the base of the Tooth of Time. There was a bear cable there, and we hung our smellables and covered our packs before ascending. One of those on his way down said that he had seen a little cinnamon cub nearby just an hour before, so we were being wise. This was our third or fourth almost-encounter of the trek.
The Tooth of Time is so called because it emerges from a long hogback of a ridge like a single tooth from a gumline. The Santa Fe trail coming across the plains hits the mountains right at that point. In wagon train days, once people saw the Tooth of Time they knew they were seven days from Santa Fe; hence its name. The top looks solid from below but in fact is formed from lots of large boulders with some big, ol’ ankle-breaking cracks between them. The ascent involves a fair amount of scrambling using all fours – what the mountaineers call “bouldering.”
Melodie gave up halfway to the top, too tired and unsure of herself to continue. Makayla stayed with her. The other six of us all made it to the top, where I broke out the remaining chocolates from our ascent of Phillips. We didn’t stay long, because rain was coming in. The first drops teased us even as we climbed down. I said to myself on the way down, “I may be an old goat, but I’m an old Mountain Goat.” Halfway down, though, Scott slipped and fell and scraped himself up pretty good. He was fine and functional, but didn’t want to stand around, lest he stiffen up. We got ourselves packed up and made our way down the trail. By 2:30, we were heading for home.
That said, it’s a long, long way to Tipperary, and Base Camp isn’t just around the corner, either. It’s very disheartening to walk Tooth Ridge. It’s very dusty, it’s so steeply downhill in places that your toes can bloody themselves beating against the front of your boots, and it goes on for ever. Even after you pass Tooth Ridge Camp and emerge from the tree cover, spying Base Camp means you’re really only about halfway there. And
there are lots of switchbacks that lengthen the trail.
One thing to be thankful for was that we didn’t broil in the hot sun the way so many crews do. The threatened rain never quite reached us, and a cooling breeze blew over us most of the way in. A final kiss from God, it seemed to me. Makayla led us the last step in. We walked proudly down off Tooth Ridge (stopping to fill some water bottles at the back gate – God bless whoever put the spigots there!) and into Tent City. It was 5:30 p.m. We walked straight to the Visitors Center to report our return, where I dropped to the cement and did five pushups with full pack on, just for bravado.
There is a scale at the Visitors Center where you can weigh your pack. Mine weighed 48 lb. (including 3 liters of water) when I left; returning with no food and only half a liter of water on me, it still weighed 40 lb. No wonder I was beat.
The last serving of dinner in the cafeteria had already started, so we came in all filthy and ravenous. Mystery meat never tasted so good! Afterwards, there was time for a good shower, a clean shave, and the doing of laundry. We got gear sorted out for the morning. And I made sure the kids knew how proud I was of them all.
Heading for Clark's Fork
Waite Phillips built the Hunting Lodge for his own use
||Red Roof Inn
Philmont's comfort stations are in most camps
Getting ready for the Campfire at Clark's Fork
||Leavin' at daybreak
Departing Clark's Fork
||The Grizzly Tooth
Rock formation on the OTHER side of the mountains, visible from Shaeffer's Peak
Seen from Tooth Ridge
||Sittin' on top of the world
Venturers atop the Tooth of Time, Philmont's iconic landmark
||Getting down is even harder
Descending the Tooth of Time
||But it's just over there!
Base camp as seen from Tooth Ridge is still several hours' hiking away
Crossing the finish line
||Tooth of Time
Seen from Base Camp
Doing Laundry in Tent City
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part VII
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to Cyphers Mine we go
From Phillips to Cyphers Mine it’s all downhill after Comanche Peak. We had another crew take a picture of us on Phillips’s brow before beginning an easy descent to Cyphers Mine down on the Cimarroncito Creek. Along the way, it started to rain lightly. "Wouldn't it suck if it started to hail," said Jordan. It started to hail. But it soon passed. We rolled into camp at 1:30 p.m., out of water.
At Cyphers Mine – a real gold mine once owned by one, Charlie Cyphers – the ground is so stony that there’s nowhere to stake out a tent. So crews stay in three-sided muckshacks, rather like one sees in the Adirondacks. There were eight of us, so we had more room in our muckshack than some crews do, though some of our more active sleepers made it an eventful night for everybody.
At Cyphers Mine, the youth panned for gold. We toured the Contention mine and the crew got to do some smithwork at the forge. Scott and I took an ice cold shower. (Nobody had fired up the water heater, but we were filthy and hadn’t had a real shower since starting on the trail eight days before, so we roughed it.) After our exertions on Phillips, the crew was a bit disgruntled and disorganized. And perhaps they were feeling a bit homesick, as was I. I told them that as the trip neared its conclusion, you still have to keep up your bear procedures and your proper gear handling and chores: the real test of character comes now.
All less than wonderful feelings, however, dissipated in the face of the Cyphers Mine Stomp, surely the best campfire program at any staffed camp at Philmont! We gathered in the Stomp Cabin, and staffers armed with guitars, banjo, fiddle, washtub, and other assorted noisemakers had us rocking. Several Philmont staffers from other parts of the Ranch had driven up from Base Camp on their day off to attend the Stomp. At the end of the program, all the staffers, past and present, were invited up front to lead the Philmont Hymn. I hesitated a bit. I’ve never served on the camping side of the ranch, but I was a faculty member at the Philmont Training Center once, and I’m a member therefore of the Philmont Staff Association. Finally, I went forward to claim a spot on stage. One of the Cyphers staff said, “Wow! When were you on staff?” I replied that I was a faculty member at PTC in ’96. His response moved me deeply. “Welcome home!” he said.Making tracks
Except for those rare occasions when time was of the essence, we made no special attempt to get up at any given time. I usually awoke at birdsong and got up to visit the Red Roof Inn (latrine). Scott got up because I did, and usually had the coffee going by the time I came back with the T.P.. By first light, there was coffee (Praise God from whom all coffee flows), and by dawn, others were emerging from their tents for breakfast.
On the morning of the 17th of July, we got up and got moving down the Cimarroncito toward the camp of that name. It was a lovely morning walk down a fresh and dewy creek valley. As we went along, I sang aloud, as I often do on the trail. This morning, I was singing an old German folksong, “Ein Jäger aus Kurpfalz.” After singing all three verses, I thought perhaps I could translate it for the others. Since Kurpfalz is no longer a recognizable territory, I translated the title as “An Upland Hunter.” But no sooner than I had done that than I realized I had a really great hiking tune here, and new lyrics began to bubble up, in the spirit of the original but pegged to the Philmont experience. And here they are.
A Philmont hiker, I,
who roams the mountains and the hills,
a cousin to the bear, the lion, and the elk.
I hear the trail a-calling me
back to the wilderness,
back to the wilderness.
By burro, horse, and foot
I’ll follow every forest trail
and drink from every stream
throughout the backcountry.
I hear the trail a-calling me
back to the wilderness,
back to the wilderness.
I cannot rest at home
since first I saw an eagle soar
above the Tooth of time,
out here in God’s country.
I hear the trail a-calling me
back to the wilderness,
back to the wilderness.
As we passed Waite Phillips’s Hunting Lodge and turned north toward Cimarroncito camp, the trail came out into the open. It was stony and began to climb. The sun was broiling overhead. Melodie began to falter again. My impatience warred with my compassion. We had a lot to do when we got there, but we wouldn’t get there any faster chivvying people along.
Once we finally arrived, Melodie was pretty spent. We were immediately faced with a clash of schedules. It was 12:30 and we needed to eat lunch. That would use up all our supplies. We needed to boogie north to Ute Gulch Commissary (two and a half miles through the mountains) to get more supplies. The Commmissary closed at five o’clock. Meanwhile, most of the crew wanted to go rock climbing and rappelling.
In the end, we left Melodie to supervise Connor, Kaleb, and Ben as they climbed; meanwhile, Scott, Jordan, and I emptied our packs for the run to Ute Gulch. Makayla had to go and sign for our supplies as Crew Leader, but we figured we’d go faster if she only carried her water and rain gear. Right after lunch, the four of us hustled off toward Ute Gulch.
I was very tired and drowsy, and feared that this was going to be a bad experience, but no such thing occurred. Power filled me and we bounded off down the trail. A stag in velvet at Aspen Springs was a bonus. We got to Ute Gulch in 70 minutes, which amazed us all. We filled up on supplies, visited the Trading Post, jawed with other crews there, then were on our way back. We covered the way back, loaded down and going uphill, in barely an hour. Truly, I can still do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
After our return, Scott and I went to find the men’s shower and had a real, hot, wonderful shower. At last!
||Hail, hail, the gang's all here!
Starting the descent from Phillips Camp
||On a clear day, you can see forever
View from Mt. Phillips
Panning for gold at Cyphers Mine
||Muckshack, sweet muckshack
No setting up tents at Cyphers Mine
||In a cavern, in a canyon
The Contention Mine
||In the Deep Places of the Earth
"They're gaining, Gandalf!"
The Crew learns smithcraft at Cyphers Mine
Cimarroncito Creek, Cyphers Mine
Without a doubt, Cyphers Mine has the best campfire program at Philmont
Mule deer stag in velvet, Aspen Springs
Trail from Ute Gulch to Cimarroncito
|Wednesday, July 28th, 2010|
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part VI
The Big One
The next day was going to be another long, hard slog. I reckoned it at nine kilometers (over five and a half miles), but we were going over Mt. Phillips, at 11,736’ the second-highest peak at Philmont. That would be a total gain in altitude of over 1,300’. Then, we would be staying overnight on Mt. Phillips itself at a dry camp, which meant bringing all our water with us. To top it off, I had a headache to start the day.
Our whole day was spent over 10,000’, which requires heavy exertion. There was little or no talk amongst the crew on the trail this morning. We left camp at 7:45 and dropped by the spring to fill our water bottles and purify the water; my filter was clogged from the grit and was of little use. By 8:30 we were on our way toward Clear Creek camp, which we reached at 10:35 a.m.
Clear Creek is the home of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and the staff welcomed us to the Republic of Mexico! In other words, the staff here portrayed fur trappers from the 1840s. The youth immediately joined in with a staffer who was casting rifle bullets, and they got to cast some for themselves, though we would not have time to shoot the black powder rifles at the Clear Creek range.
To save water, we again cooked our dinner for lunch at a campsite where my wife Deanne and I camped twelve years ago. We were entering parts of the ranch I had hiked over from previous treks, and I found Deanne was very much with me at Crooked Creek and Clear Creek and Phillips. I missed her very much. Our trek in ’98 was a very stressful one. We had a difficult crew and at least one significant health crisis among them. But the stresses of that time are of no importance now; all that remains is the memory of a shared adventure – one shared with my best beloved.
By 1:25, we were packed up and headed up the trail to the summit of Mt. Phillips. The northside trail goes outside the Philmont boundary and loops around in a great arc from west to east and then straight for the summit. It is a very steep and difficult trail, especially when loaded up with gear and food. We had to caterpillar in many places. Though Baldy Mountain is taller than Phillips, the ascent of Phillips is to my mind much more difficult.
To make matters worse, it started to rain. Then lightning hit nearby, and we had to scatter and go through the proper lightning drill before continuing. The rain increased, the wind started to blow, and people began to get cold and wet. At 4:45, we stopped so that Scott could loan Melodie some rain paints. At that point, Makayla began to go down with hypothermia, and soon several others began to suffer from cold. I immediately called for the dining fly and began to rig an emergency shelter. We unlimbered a stove and made some hot, double-strength Gatorade. Hand warmers were fetched from the first aid kit. Scott and Kaleb and I (the ones with the –ahem – most advantageous surface-to-mass ratio) tended to the needs of the others until everyone was warm and functional again.
Our emergency stop took an hour, and when we started up again, we still had a couple of groggy crew members. Ben kept insisting that he was fine. I pressed gloves and other things on him, since he still seemed a little blank. But Connor was the hardest hit of all. He was very unsteady on his feet, even after warming up. Perhaps a bit of shock was afflicting him in the aftermath of the emergency; certainly, the altitude was also getting to him, and he was, of course, near exhaustion. He was giddy and grinning even as he stumbled. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was acting drunk – even without consuming any alcohol. Still, he was a happy drunk, and that helped. We watched him very closely as we slowly made our way to the top.
We summitted at 6:15, and the whole country – all the way to Colorado – opened up all around us. We sat in a circle and piled stones, it being a custom to make stone circles of remembrance upon summitting. We took pictures. We had to hold Ben and Connor’s hands at times to keep them from stumbling. As I stood on the very summit, I called out,
Explorer Post 697!
Venturing Crew 699!
Venturing Crew 119!
Rougher! Tougher! Buffer!
Tears were in my eyes as I stepped down. Those were/are the groups I’ve led to Philmont. There were so many memories of trek companions that were crowding in on me at that moment. Once all the pix were snapped, we ambled into Phillips camp, at 11,640’ the highest overnight camp at Philmont.
Phillips is a dry camp, so we were being careful with our water. We prepared to eat our lunch for dinner. Jordan tangled the bear rope trying to hang bags, so I tied a bowline-on-a-bight for Makayla to sit in, then tied her into a chest hitch. We hoisted her up with the other rope some thirty feet in the air to disentangle the knot in the first. Life is full of all kinds of adventures, and we were just glad that Makayla is so petite.
We built a campfire to stay warm and celebrate our triumph. I had bought some chocolates at the PJ commissary, which I now took out to share around. Connor was still being goofy, but Ben was now fully recovered and and grateful to have been so cared for by the crew.
||Spring forth, O well
Just try not to get too many chunkies in there
The crew casts some rifle bullets
||Rocky Mountain Fur Company
||Onward and Upward!
The trail to Mt. Phillips is very steep
||The Summit is in Sight
Victory at last!
||Rougher Tougher Buffer Duffer
Yours Truly atop Mt. Phillips
||The Bearer of the Very Important Papers
Scott finds a new way to make sure T.P. is always available
||Just Hanging Around
Makayla is hoisted up to untangle a bear rope
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part V
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
The next day was Bastille Day. I awoke the crew by singing what I remembered of The Marseillaise.
When some of our crew took exception, I replied by saying that France was our oldest ally, so we had to say nice things about the French once a year. Marchon!
We got on the trail by 7:30 and made good time, despite my throwing up my morning coffee. Don’t know why – maybe a touch of altitude or dehydration. I was fine the rest of the day. We had a very long day ahead of us: over eleven miles, first down to Phillips Junction to get more supplies, then up to Crooked Creek for program, finally ending the day at Wild Horse, a trail (unstaffed) camp a thousand feet higher in elevation than when we started.
We reached PJ at eleven a.m., and left by noon. We cooked dinner for lunch at Porcupine camp, then scooted on up to Crooked Creek, a homesteading camp, where we encountered rain. We toured the cabin – a typical homesteaders’ place of the early post-Civil War era. The youth petted the baby chickens. It was very lovely, but we still had a ways to go. We left about quarter to five and slogged our way uphill to Wild Horse. At times, the trail was as steep as a staircase, and we finally found the need to caterpillar our way up it.
Caterpillaring is a group hiking technique for tackling steep trails. The group halts along the trail, each person standing about ten feet from the other. The rearmost person starts up the trail and as he or she passes the second person before one, calls out something or other to let the person behind know that it is his or her turn to start up the trail. Many of the things we called out had to do with food, since by this time we were very tired of freeze-dried dinners and dry everything else. Once the one ascending reaches the head of the line, he or she stops and rests until it is his or her turn again. In this way, the group as a whole rolls itself up the trail at a steady pace, while each individual rests as much as one climbs.
We finally reached Wild Horse after twelve and a half hours on the trail from Apache Springs. Dusk was gathering. Kaleb and I went to find the spring at the other end of the camp. I used my water filter to get a couple of liters of pure water immediately, while Kaleb filled several bottles with spring water to be purified with Micro-Pure tablets when we got back to camp. Meanwhile, other crew members got tents up and bear bags hung. We ate our lunch for dinner.
As we shared our Thorns and Roses that night, I told the crew that I have seen other, very experienced crews break down under the stress of a day like the one we’d just had: but not this one! I was very proud of them.
||The road goes ever on and on
Leaving Apache Springs
The Homesteader from Crooked Creek leads Abe the burro up the hill from Phillips Junction
||Come up and set a spell
Crooked Creek porch talk
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part IV
Up the Creek
The next day, we got into some hard hiking, covering almost three and a half miles and gaining over 1,000’ in altitude as we went from Fish Camp to Apache Springs. Melodie’s altitude sickness was worse than ever. Even Scott and I were a bit dizzy. In the end, we took everything off of Melodie, even lashing her empty pack to Scott’s. By the time we reached Apache Springs, we were pretty beat.
Melodie stayed in camp to rest. Scott stayed behind to watch over her. I accompanied the youth to their conservation project. Every Philmont crew is required to do three hours of conservation work (often trail building) as part of their trek. Our task was to pull stumps with a grip hoist and some mattocks. The youth took after this task with a vengeance. We managed to break the grip hoist (the Cons staff, Sam and Clay, eventually got it repaired), but we did pull a stump or two.
We returned to find that Melodie had been having adventures in our absence. She had been lying on her sleeping mat, with her head on Jordan’s rolled-up jacket. Jordan had an open granola bar in the pocket. A chipmunk (locally referred to as a “mini-bear”) ran underneath her neck to try to get at it. Scott said she came rocketing up off the sleeping pad, flailing at her hair, while the mini-bear shot off her neck like it had been launched from a slingshot. “And when you go back to Innishowen, you’ll have a sthory to tell,” I responded. We had several other encounters with mini-bears in this camp. Makayla even had one run under her legs while squatting in the woods. All this made controlling smellables a critical issue. The crew was having trouble getting bear bags properly hung. “The Keystone Kops go Kamping,” I thought at one point. Still, it was early days.
Apache Springs has a large, open meadow made boggy by the two springs there. California Corn Lily – a toxic plant – grows widely in the wet ground. One of their programs at Apache Springs is 3-D Archery, which our youth enjoyed greatly. They also enjoyed stargazing with me that first night, as I named the constellations for them. We saw several shooting stars. At night, Scott and Melodie both heard a mountain lion.
The next day was a layover day, which meant we were staying a second night. We took the opportunity to do some laundry. I washed my hair and shaved. We participated in a sweat lodge session, which felt great and went far to making up for the lack of showers on the trek so far. There were hummingbirds at a feeder on the porch, as well as abundant fresh fruit on offer. I was particularly taken by some small, yellow pears of a sort I had never seen before (yum!). All in all, it was a pleasant rest day.
Having said that, things were not all hunky-dory in the land of Philmont. Our crew was getting a little testy with each other. I pointed out to them that this was normal. We had been on the road, and then the trail, for over a week together, and nobody can keep their OK-mask on for that long. Sooner or later, everybody shows who they really are. We need to deal with this with grace, I said – and also get our rest.
Now, all groups go through a time of testing like this, and usually about the same time, so I wasn’t surprised. Yet I was disturbed toward the end of our layover day to find that the dissension among the crew was worse than I had thought. The youth were doing their best to handle the issues among themselves without troubling the adults. But sooner or later, some things must be brought out into the open. Things must be said, actions taken. We had a couple of very blunt encounters that burst the pustule and cleaned out the social poison, and things began to work much better.
Rocky Mountain High, indeed
Venturers refuse to be stumped by the challenges facing them
||The Most Dangerous Nuisance at Philmont
The ubiquitous mini-bear
||One Dead Fox
3-D Archery at Apache Springs
Layovers provide time for many essential activities
After the sweat lodge comes the cold bucket of water -- ah!
|Tuesday, July 27th, 2010|
The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Part III
Hitting the trail
Friday, July 9, we boarded the bus and were dropped off at Zastrow Turnaround at the south end of the Ranch. I was pleased that our crew had chosen the far south for their trek; it was the only part of Philmont I hadn’t hiked over at all. We would follow the Rayado Canyon up into the high country before turning north and hitting the big mountains.
The first camp we passed through was Zastrow, where the program was GPS. They gave us some training and sent us out to follow the GPS course on the way to Abreu; however, our Venturers could not figure out the system. GPS was brand-new to them, and it was frustrating; nevertheless, we enjoyed the hike up the Rayado. The Rayado River and its tributaries form a wonderful trout stream, and we had some avid fishermen among us who were eyeing it carefully.
We set up camp at Old Abreu, then returned to Abreu Camp to cook dinner, milk goats, and enjoy the Cantina (which sells a very fine root beer). I noted that the staff kept the door to the Cantina open while the crews were inside. Deodorant isn’t allowed in the backcountry, and unwashed campers can get pretty ripe for a closed room, especially after several days on the trail.
We were warned explicitly about bears. A late spring had left the bears with few berries to eat, and they were coming into conflict with campers in their search for food. There were more bear sightings this summer than almost anyone could remember seeing before, and there had already been two bear attacks in the south country. As a sign in another camp later said, it was a Bear-pocalypse.
We later learned that the two bear attacks were the direct result of campers neglecting to follow proper bear procedures and keep smellables out of their tents; nevertheless, the bear stories severely unnerved our crew leader. For the rest of the trek, she directed our tents to be set up in each camp so that hers was in the center of the group. In other respects, however, I saw that Makayla was really laying hold of the crew leader’s position, and we could take her bear-anoia in stride. That evening, I offered the old Cornish prayer after our Thorns and Roses time:
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties
and things that go bump in the night,
good Lord, deliver us.
Over the next several days, we did a lot of re-packing and I spent considerable time fixing people’s packs – mostly adjusting hip belts and shoulder straps. Ben was particularly frustrated on the first day. He had a lot of gear he didn’t know how to pack or use. After a few adjustments and a little advice, though, everything began to fit better and he felt more in control of the pack monster he was wrestling with.
Our second day on the trail, Kaleb took the Mapigator position. He took to map and compass easily. We had a long, uphill walk to Carson Meadows, which has a gorgeous view of the Tooth of Time. The program there was SAR (Search and Rescue), and while the youth did the program, Scott and I contemplated a problem we had discovered: we were running out of coffee.
Coffee is not issued as part of the Philmont menu. You are expected to take your own, and coffee bags are available in Base Camp for advisors to stock up on. We thought we had a better system. Scott had found a French press that held over a quart of water. We were packing ground coffee and making the real stuff every morning. The only problem was, we forgot to pack a new plastic container when we were sorting through our gear, making the transition from touring mode to trekking mode. We knew that begging for coffee would get us nowhere in the backcountry; however, we also knew that every staffed camp had
coffee, which they brewed up each night for the Advisors’ Coffee time.
So, I approached the staff at Carson Meadows and made them a proposition. I asked if they could spare us some ground coffee in return for a couple of hours of labor on the part of our adults. They were very surprised at this offer, but thought that would be a good deal. They had an on-going task of clearing the scrub oak that was impinging on their meadow. If we got rid of some of this nuisance, that would be worth some coffee in their eyes.
So Scott, Melodie, and I set to clearing scrub oak with a vengeance. When we were about done with that task, the staff asked if we could fell a big, ol’ scraggly pine tree that was also in the way. Jordan joined me and Scott in playing lumberjack and we made short work of it. Our coffee supply replenished, we were now ready to face the backcountry again.
I noted a sign at Carson Meadows that seemed to read, STAFFAREA.
“Sounds contagious,” I said.
As we continued on our way, Melodie continued to have altitude problems, mostly headaches. Finally, we took most of her gear off her, to enable her to continue. We also continued adjusting packs. And Allison continued to refine our skills and impart Philmont lore at every opportunity.
The reaction to Philmont on the park of the Venturers was immediate and overwhelming. Each new sight was a cause for amazement. Each camp we entered was the best camp that ever was, and each crew member immediately decided they wanted to return and work there.
This excitement increased day by day for most of the trek.
On Sunday morning, July 11, we said good-bye to our Ranger after breakfast and left Crags camp. Our path took us high up in the canyon wall. I taught the crew the Indian Step, a technique for relaxing each leg’s muscles and releasing its lactic acid as one walked uphill.
High up on some rocks overlooking Crater Peak, we made a long break, and I got my church supplies out of my pack: pilot biscuits and grape juice for communion. Connor read that day’s devotion, and I gave them a brief homily from Matthew 1. I noted that the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’s most famous oration, was probably delivered to just twelve people. I talked about Jedediah Smith’s desire for a “society” to “bear him up before a throne of grace,” and how between the levels of congregational worship and personal faith there was a need for a smaller circle of friends who were all on the same pilgrimage, and who would support each other and hold each other accountable. This is the origin of the Methodist Class Meeting, but it isn’t original to Methodism. All spiritual renewal movements, all the way back to Jesus himself, have rediscovered it. And our crew was, in essence, a little church of its own, supporting each other with our prayers in the wilderness.
Afterward, we made steady progress to Fish Camp, where the day’s menu called for tuna. How appropriate. We met some weary cavalcaders on the porch of Rayado Lodge, Waite Phillips’s original fishing camp establishment. A Philmont Cavalcade is an eight-day trek on horseback, as opposed to a ten-day trek by foot. All of our crew members were instantly charmed by this idea.
I told the Venturers that this was shaping up to be my best Philmont trek yet, and they were shaping up to be as good a crew as I had ever worked with.
There was a terrible stench that occasionally wafted its way into our campsite. Our intrepid boys, for whom no disgusting smell should go uninvestigated, soon found the cause. A dead cow, partially decomposed and covered in maggots, was just a wee bit downstream from us. What the cow died of, I don’t know, but a bear had decided to drag it off to a private corner for some quiet snacking at its own convenience. This at least had the advantage of making sure that the bear was more interested in the carcass than in our smellables. Still, as C.S. Lewis (I think) said, the fact that there is a bear in the forest – even if we never encounter it – makes us feel more alive.
Also helping us feel more alive was the illusion of time progressing more slowly. I consistently mistook how long I had been at any given activity. There was more time for everything, it seemed. Perhaps this was because I wasn’t filling my time with empty activities and electronic distractions; I also didn’t have it broken down into artificial time periods. Every moment was lived to the full. So much is experienced in every day; every relationship deepens at a pace unheard of back in the “real world.”
We tied flies and the youth tried their hand at fly-casting, but their tromping through the creek and beating the water scared off all the trout. No fish for us. Still, there were other charms at Fish Camp. There was a cat who enjoyed chasing the abundant chipmunks, and a young mule deer that wandered through camp during Advisors Coffee.
Gird your loins for the path ahead
||Philmont is a working cattle ranch
Setting out on the trail into the mountains
||Pilot-to-Bombardier (P2B) Latrine
The bathrooms are as big as all outdoors
||Bridge Over Peaceful Waters
Our route took us up Rayado Canyon, through which the Rayado River and its tributaries flow
Allison gathers the crew to review important backcountry skills
||Hanging Bear Bags
An every-night chore
||Milking it for all it's worth
Makayla tries her hand at milking a goat at Abreu
||Tooth of Time from Carson Meadows' porch
||I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK
Scott works to fell a tree at Carson Meadows
||Looking up Rayado Canyon
Crater Peak on the right
Mountain goats -- er, Venturers -- looking out over Rayado Canyon
Connors sees some trout!
Waite Phillips's original cabin at Fish Camp
Advisors snooze while Venturers explore
||There Ain't No Flies On Us
The Crew prepares to go fly-fishing