Anyone who’s ever been to Philmont has a story to tell.

Maybe it’s the story of how they made it to the top of Baldy Mountain. Or maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment they felt after backpacking through the wilderness for 12 days. Or maybe it’s the incredible experience of returning to Philmont years later to work as a member of the staff (greatest summer job ever?).

Philmont stories are Scouting stories. They’re stories of companionship, hard work and the life-changing experience of spending day after day after day in the great outdoors.

In an effort to tell those stories in a new and exciting way, Philmont has launched its first official podcast. “Hike On” is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify — or, if you prefer to listen through a web browser, on Anchor.

“We really want to cultivate that Philmont excitement,” says Jack Rodgers, Philmont’s marketing manager, former Philmont ranger and one of the podcast’s creators. “We try to make it for people who have been to Philmont, and also for people who haven’t been yet.”

At the time of this writing, four episodes of “Hike On “have been released. Rodgers says they plan to release two more episodes this winter, which will conclude season one. Season two will launch next summer.

“Hike On” is aimed at youth who are Scouts, youth who are not Scouts, parents of Scouts, parents of non-Scouts, Scout leaders and … you get the idea. Like Philmont itself, “Hike On” is for everyone.

Here are five highlights from the first four episodes.

Philmont is back!

In episode 1, Rodgers, along with co-host Jarod Contreras, celebrates Philmont’s comeback after the closures of 2018 (due to wildfires) and 2020 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Right off the bat, the hosts tell the story of a group from Atlanta, who completed a trek last summer. They interview one participate who had been scheduled to come to Philmont in both 2018 and 2020, only to have both of those treks canceled.

“My expectations were blown away,” says the participant after their successful trek in 2021.

Summiting Baldy

Also in episode 1, the hosts interview an advisor who tells an emotional story of their crew summitting Baldy Mountain.

“I was relatively slower on that day due to the steepness of the hike,” he says. “As we came close (to the top), I saw the group of (our crewmembers) all waiting. I said, ‘Why are you waiting?’ They said, ‘You lead the crew.’ I said, ‘I’m not fast enough.’ And they said, ‘No, we want to summit Baldy as a crew.’”

Photograph by Monica Dunn

The history of Philmont

Episode 2 is hosted by Contreras and fellow Philmont staffer Zoe Hambley, and features special guest Eric Smallwood, a historian who’s an expert on the area currently known as Philmont Scout Ranch.

Smallwood reveals all the details of how Waite Phillips donated the land to the BSA, knowing we would be the best stewards to preserve it for future generations.

Changing lives

We’ve always said that Philmont is a life-changing experience. Now we have the data to back it up.

For the completion of her master’s degree at the University of Utah, former Philmont ranger Mary Godwin studied the effects of Philmont on young people. In episode 3 of “Hike On,” Godwin shares the details of her research.

“Like most everybody else, I thought there was an obvious answer,” Godwin says. “Of course we change lives. It almost doesn’t need proving. But wouldn’t it be really, really cool if could actually put down hard evidence?”

The Philmont community

Episode 4 is largely devoted to telling the stories of current and former Philmont staffers, including Caitlin Lowe, who hosts her own podcast focused on the experience of working at Philmont.

“I worked at Philmont from 2007 to 2013,” Lowe says. “I was in the backcountry for seven glorious summers.”

What kept bringing her back summer after summer?

“Everything,” she says.

Photograph by Alex Fields

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