Adventures » OA Trail Crew Testimonials

Below are some of the most meaningful and wildest stories from OA Trail Crew. These are firsthand accounts from Arrowmen who have found out exactly what the makes two weeks in the backcountry of Philmont Scout Ranch so awesome. But to really find out what all the excitement is about, you'll have to go and experience it yourself.

Evan Chaffee - Wiatava Lodge - San Juan Capistrano, California

One of my most memorable experiences in the Order of the Arrow was the OA Trail Crew at Philmont. This was an opportunity that readily helped me grow both physically and mentally. When I arrived at Philmont prior to the start of my trek, I had questions as to what would happen and how things worked. The anticipation was killing me; I couldn't wait to get started. Not only was this my first time to Philmont, but it was my first OA High Adventure trek.

On arrival, I was immediately welcomed by a very friendly group of guys with whom I would spend the next two weeks. My crew was comprised of Arrowmen from across the nation. We had guys from Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Michigan as well as my own home state of California. This band of brothers formed OATC 622B. Our sister crew was comprised of Arrowmen from Nevada, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

During the trek we found ourselves using everything we had learned from Scouting to build trails, to cook meals, and to leave no trace. During our first week, we built a switchback that led up the side of Mount Baldy. This was an extremely rewarding experience as we began to realize that for years to come Scouts would use that trail to get to the top of Mt. Baldy.

After finishing up our work on Baldy, we traveled back down to Base Camp where we regrouped, split up crews A and B, and started treks that each crew had specifically mapped out. After our first week working together and getting to know the members of both crews A and B, we had all grown quite close. We were all disappointed that we had to break up and set out in different directions. In the end, it turned out to be a good thing; I found I had a lot more to learn from my fellow crewmates.

Our Foremen showed us the ropes of backpacking across Philmont. With each new day, we selected a new crew leader whose job was to provide leadership on the trail and in the campsite. Each evening we would discuss the day's events, what had gone well or badly, and state one thing that we looked forward to the next day. These talks, called "thorns and roses" provided some of the best times, but could also result in some of the most somber moments.

No matter what happened, each day we continued on our trek to find new and exciting opportunities wherever we went. Whether in the deepest darkest forest or the highest peak of Philmont, we found each experience and view to be amazing. The last day of our trek we hiked down from the Tooth of Time to Base Camp. We were amazed at how nice simple things like warm meals and hot showers could turn into such luxuries.

The next day we awoke bright and early to hop on board a bus that drove us to the airport. Each of us flew back to our homes, in different states, far away from the mountains that had formed us into a family. Later, I realized that I have never felt as free as I did when I was with my brothers of OATC 622 for two weeks out in God's Country, Philmont.

Sean Royston - Echockotee Lodge - Gainesville, Florida

I was always rather active in my home lodge in North Florida. It seems like I was the committee chairman for just about everything possible. When the Lodge needed a position, I was always there to help out. It has always been a tradition in my lodge to make a huge deal about Order of the Arrow Trail Crew (OATC). Every business meeting, every LEC, and every time I saw one of those "older guys" in the Lodge, I was being told that I needed to go out to OATC.

I was like most teenagers at the time and I kept putting it off, always telling everyone, "I'll make it out next year". I truly wanted to go every summer, but again, like most teenagers, there was always something else going on. In the spring of 2003, I told myself this will be the summer I make the commitment to go to OATC. That was absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Heading out to Philmont, I was really nervous. Would I be in good enough shape to make it? Would I get along with all of the other Arrowmen? I mean, what do I know about making a trail? I had been to Philmont before and I had even been on a trek, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

I soon realized I was in for a treat. Without giving too much away, the excellent staff had surprise after surprise for us. I thought for sure that the work week would be the hardest work I had ever done in my life. I was shocked to see how much fun the work week actually was. I got to know twelve other Arrowmen from around the country as well as the Foremen for our crew. I was also under the impression that we would be eating dehydrated trail food all week long. I was very pleased to have pork chops, steak, and buffalo. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The sense of accomplishment after completing some of the finest trail I have ever seen, if I may say so myself, is like nothing I have ever felt in my life. It was truly an honor and a privilege to serve Philmont in such a large and visible way.

When I first heard about OATC, I thought it was just one week of work and one week of play. It's hard to explain how wrong I really was. I said how great the work week was but it's hard to explain how incredible the trek week was.

First off, we were able to plan our own trek. We told our Foremen where we wanted to go, and with their knowledge of Philmont, they picked some of the most beautiful vistas, the most challenging climbs and coolest camps around. In fact, we were able to go climb a mountain that normal treks can't go to. We climbed the second tallest peak in New Mexico, Little Costilla.

I will never forget the places I've seen, the people I have met, and the experiences I had thanks to the opportunities provided by Order of the Arrow Trail Crew. My admonishment to all who are like me and keep putting it off: stop, and sign up today! I promise, you will not regret. It was a life changing experience for me and many of my crew members and it can be for you as well. I hope to you see you out there next year.

Please use the following links to learn more about the OA Trail Crew program at Philmont Scout Ranch.