Adventures » OA Trail Crew » Parent's Information

Contained on this page is information often requested by parents, as well as some other things they may find useful.

Expedition Number:

Your expedition number is important. Your expedition number is based on the day your OA Trail Crew begins. For example, if your trek begins on June 17, your expedition number will be OATC-617. If it begins on July 8, your expedition number will be OATC-708. Please be sure to include your expedition number in all correspondence.

Emergency Information:

If it becomes necessary for you to reach your son while at OA Trail Crew due to an emergency, you may call the OA Trail Crew office in the Conservation Department at the Philmont Scout Ranch at (575)-376-2281 (ask for the Conservation Department). Each crew is equipped with an emergency radio that can be used to relay urgent messages to crews on the trail.

Writing to a Participant:

If you would like to write to a participant while he is at Philmont, please use the address below. We recommend mailing the letter early in the week to ensure it arrives before the trek is over.

Arrowman's Name - Crew Number (ex. OATC-621)
Philmont Scout Ranch, BSA
47 Caballo Road
Cimarron, NM 87714

About the OA Trail Crew Staff:

All of the OA Trail Crew foremen are highly trained and skilled in backpacking, hiking, camping, and trail building. Before the first trek arrives, the staff spends weeks preparing, learning how to build trail from the Philmont Conservation Staff, brushing up on proper backpacking and hiking techniques, and reviewing the Leave No Trace camping principles practiced at Philmont. In addition, all foremen are CPR and First Aid trained. All of the 2013 Trail Crew Staff are active members of the Order of the Arrow. Past OA Trail Crew Foremen include many former Lodge, Section, and National Officers.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Below are a list of some frequently asked questions and their answers.

How much does it cost?

Participation in the OA Trail Crew is $300 for the two-week program. This does not include transportation, lodging and meals to and from Philmont. Those costs are the responsibility of the participants.

My son is "on the trail" for two-weeks. Is there any way to get in touch with him during this time?

There are plenty of payphones in base camp for participants to use upon arrival, and upon completion of the trek. These payphones do not accept change, so phone cards are required. In case a participant needs to be contacted for an emergency, parents can contact Philmont at (575) 376-2281. Ask to be transferred to the Conservation Department and then leave the message for the OA Trail Crew Director. The OA Trail Crew Director can relay the message during the work-week or can have it delivered to a backcountry camp during the trek-week.

Will my son be safe?

Every precaution that can be taken to ensure the safety of participants is taken. All OA Trail Crew Foremen are trained in Wilderness First Aid Basics and are CPR Certified. The most common injuries that occur during an OA Trail Crew are minor cuts, scratches and bruises, and insect bites, which are easily treated with the comprehensive first-aid kit at the disposal of each crew.

My son is on a form of medication. How can I ensure his medication is taken when it is supposed to?

Upon arrival to Philmont Scout Ranch, participants undergo a recheck of the BSA Class 3 Medical evaluation form by the medical staff. (This health form will have been sent to the participants in their acceptance packet.) All medications are collected (if necessary) and kept with the OA Trail Crew Foremen responsible for the participant. The Director takes proper measures to ensure the Staff is aware of the medical need, and instructs the staff in proper medication distribution.

What is the OA Trail Crew policy for smoking, drinking and drug use on the trip?

OA Trail Crew follows the BSA Guidelines for tobacco use. Use of alcohol and/or drugs is not permitted in any Scouting setting, and will not be tolerated. The OA Trail Crew Foremen perform a "shake down" of the participant's gear prior to departure, ensuring only necessary equipment is taken on the trip. If use of non-prescription drugs or alcohol on the trail is identified, participants will be removed from the experience, and sent home at their own expense.

How do I know what equipment to send him with?

In the OA Trail Crew acceptance packet, an equipment checklist is included to guide your purchasing. If a participant arrives to the base and does not have an item he needs, the Tooth of Time Trading Post is available to fulfill most needs. Participants should always take care to bring only what is listed on the equipment checklist, as any additional items will most likely be deemed unnecessary at "shake down".

Review the personal equipment list in the Philmont Guidebook to Adventure. In addition to that list, you will need a good pair of work gloves, all leather rugged boots, and work clothes, including a long sleeved shirt and long pants. Boots and long pants (i.e., heavy material like jeans or canvas) are required at the work site. A small daypack may be helpful for carrying your lunch, raingear, and water to and from the work site. Remember, you will be doing physically strenuous work in the Philmont Backcountry for six days prior to your trek, so be prepared. Philmont will provide tents, cooking gear, stoves, and all food necessary for your two-week experience. In addition, please bring to Philmont your full Boy Scout uniform (shorts, socks, belt, shirt) and your Order of the Arrow sash. Limited storage is available for your clothing and other personal "travel" items.

It is also very important that you bring ground cloth and rain gear that is extremely durable and dependable. You will be working at 10,000 feet and weather conditions can be harsh. It is imperative that you have quality rain gear and a dependable set of warm clothing.

What is a "shake down"?

A "shake down" is a review of the participant"s equipment by the OA Trail Crew Foremen to ensure that only necessary items are taken on the trip. Packs can become overweight and uncomfortable if unnecessary equipment is included on the trip.

Will my son earn any rank advancement or Merit Badges on the trip?

The focus of the Order of the Arrow Trail Crew is a 2-week, physical and spiritual challenge; not rank advancement. All participants of OA Trail Crew must be over 16, and as members of the Order of the Arrow are already beyond the First Class Rank of the Boy Scouts of America. Although no formal rank advancement or merit badges are awarded, participants will leave the program eligible for the Leave No Trace Camping Award, and depending on the trip they choose to plan, may be eligible for the BSA Historic Trails Award and 50-Miler Award. Completion of this program may also meet certain requirements for the Hiking or Backpacking merit badges.

Once you've signed up, what are the next steps (transportation et al)?

Once your son has signed up the OA Trail Crew Program it is time to plan accordingly for the trip. You will want reconfirm the dates of arrival and departure of the program. Your family should research the transportation options that are available between your home and the high adventure base. Next, your family should schedule the best transportation method, including plane, bus, train or car. Past participants of the programs have taken all these options. It is suggested that participants travel with a buddy from their local area so that they may have an equally special experience. When they arrive to their destination they will be met by a uniformed Scouter. It is best if your Scout wears either his uniform or a scouting related tee shirt so that he is easily identifiable by our uniformed Scouter.

If flying, what is the best airport to fly into?

Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ), Albuquerque, New Mexico. The shuttle leaves from Albuquerque at 2PM.

Once your son's travel arrangements have been made, please inform your program by submitting the travel postcard that is included in the acceptance packet so Philmont is aware of your arrival. After you sign up, you should expect to receive an acceptance packet in early March.

Is ground transportation provided to and from the airport?

Yes, there will be information in the acceptance packet regarding the registration for ground transportation. The shuttle leaves from Albuquerque airport at 2PM. The cost varies from year to year, but is approximately $130.

How much spending money is suggested?

Many participants do bring extra spending money. The participant is responsible for meals to and from the base. The base has a trading post for souvenirs and supplies. An actual dollar figure is at the discretion of the family.

Is there a deadline for signing up?

No, there is not a deadline for applications. However, on March 15th, the National OA Office will start sending acceptance packets to the Arrowmen who have signed up, regardless of whether there are still open slots. That being said, if slots remain open after March 15th, Arrowmen may continue signing up until OA Trail Crew is full.