Why I Love PTC

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I blogged recently about the Philmont Training Center and why Scouters owe it to themselves and the Scouts they serve to attend a conference there. Now that I’m gearing up for this August’s Building Strong Troops conference, which I’m co-facilitating, I’ve been thinking about why I love PTC so much.

Here are a few reasons:

  • Abundant wildlife. Philmont is truly where the deer and the antelope play–not to mention the elk, bears, and mini-bears (known elsewhere as chipmunks). A week or two ago, a herd of elk crossed the highway right in front of PTC. This summer, deer that seem almost as tame as pets will be regular visitors in base camp.
  • Gorgeous views. Everywhere you turn is beautiful, from the Tooth of Time just across the road to the plains behind base camp. Thunderstorms are particularly majestic over those plains, and, unlike the crews in the backcountry, you don’t have to worry too much about getting caught in one!
  • Hiking opportunities. Although PTC participants can’t go into the backcountry (other than some family program participants), several trails are available, including the Urraca Trail, which offers stunning views of the Tooth of Time. A couple of years ago, my wife and I took a sunrise hike to Lover’s Leap, where I captured the image above.
  • A taste of the trek program. With binoculars in hand, you can stand by your tent and watch hikers working their way down Tooth Ridge to base camp. In the evening, you can walk across the road for the closing campfire where trek participants receive their coveted arrowhead patches. Be forewarned, however, you’ll want to come back as a crew advisor.
  • The Villa Philmonte. PTC is built on the grounds of Waite Phillips’s stunning summer home, the Villa Philmonte, a 28,400-square-foot Spanish Mediterranean mansion that has been lovingly restored. Tours are offered throughout the day, but I also enjoy just strolling through the gardens and across the Villa lawn.
  • Family programs. PTC offers family programs that complement the conference offerings. Schedules are coordinated so families can enjoy meals and evenings together. Also, everyone gets Wednesday afternoon off to do laundry, explore the ranch, or head to nearby places like Taos or Cimarron.
  • Cimarron. Philmont is just a few miles down the road from historic Cimarron, where you can visit art galleries, get some great ice cream, and eat at the St. James Hotel, where people ranging from Buffalo Bill Cody to Zane Grey have stayed.
  • The conferences. Oh yes, and then there are the conferences! PTC attracts top facilitators across the BSA, many of them members of national committees or volunteers who helped create the programs they’re teaching on. (For example, I’m the author of volume 1 of the forthcoming Troop Leader Guidebook.) National staff members are also on hand to field questions or offer sneak peeks of coming attractions in the BSA.

So those are a few reasons I love PTC. If you’ve been there, what did you love? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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