Trekking for non-Scouts
November 15, 2008 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Is there a place like Philmont for non-Scouts?

I'm the faculty advisor for the Outdoor Club at the high school where I teach. I've been involved with the Boy Scouts in the past and have been to Philmont Scout Ranch (as an adult), which I found to be an incredible experience for the Scouts in my crew. I'd like to offer a similar experience for the co-ed, age 14-18, members of this Outdoor Club.

In particular, I'm looking for an organization or business that provides logistical support (including food drops) for 10-14 day wilderness backpacking treks over well marked trails. (I am NOT looking for a guide service, per se. The club advisors would provide adult leadership for the trip.) Bonus points if they specialize in high school groups, or offer some on-trail activities (such as those offered at Philmont.) Any location in the 48 contiguous states (USA) would be fine, although I guess I was expecting a mountainous trek. (That being said, feel free to defy my expectations.)

Yes, I know that I could register my Outdoor Club as a Venture Crew and thereby become eligible to attend Philmont itself, but I'm looking for something that doesn't require entering a lottery two years in advance in order to (perhaps) get my golden ticket.
posted by perrce to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could try a bit of the Appalachian Trail. You won't have the logistical support you had at Philmont. You also won't be able to do the whole thing, but you could try doing a part of it.
posted by Deflagro at 6:42 PM on November 15, 2008

You might want to check out the Yosemite Institute. According to their website they offer teen wilderness adventures.

The Appalachian Mountain Club sponsors teen wilderness backpacking trips as well but they include guides/instructors.

Googling logistical support for backpack trip turned up some possible leads as well.

Good luck.
posted by zoel at 8:42 PM on November 15, 2008

I think that you are asking for a few different things. If you just want food drops then I'm sure you can find a service that helps folks through-hiking on the Pacific Coast Trail, Appalachian Trail or Colorado Trail.

But, if you start talking about on-trail activities then I'm afraid what you are looking for are "guides" or at least professionals of some sort that are going to be backpacking with you (which I would imagine would lead them to be somehow responsible for you)--if this is what you want then I think you need to hire a guided hike...I can recommend KMAC (Kent Mountain Adventure Center in Estes Park, Colorado as a company that can make custom trips for seemingly any group, specializing in teens) (full disclosure, I worked for them for a couple of seasons).

Lastly, I'm sure you've thought of this but as an ex-outdoor guide I have to caution you about just using "club advisors" or (heaven forbid) parents as your instructors unless said advisors and parents are truly qualified for leading groups in the wilderness (ie. are familiar with the area, know how to evacuate if necessary, know proper medical protocols [are WEMT or WFR certified] etc, etc]. Stay safe. I've heard some great things about Philmont and I think that is great you want to emulate it--I wonder if you could find a challenge course (aka a ropes course) that would be a good base camp for some adventures that would also help with backpacking logistics.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:40 PM on November 15, 2008

You might consider talking to someone at Outward Bound about their Custom Programs -
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:55 AM on November 16, 2008

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