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Peeing in the Woods

A Summer at Philmont Scout Ranch

I suspect that Philmont Scout Ranch is why New Mexico is called “the Land of Enchantment.”

I was drawn to this magical place in the summer of 2014, and if you will excuse the informal sentence structure, I’d like to say: Best. Job. EVER.

I shall herewith beg of the young, single, adventure-seeking souls in my life to fill out an application. “What’s the pay rate,” says your inner responsible adult. “Never mind money,* you ninny,” says I. “This is about living. Adventuring. Serving. Breathing mountain air, getting dirty, getting lost, and feeling found.”

Your job will likely differ from mine**, but I was a group leader II (the II signifying that I was over 21, and thus able to lead overnight hikes). And it was awesome.

This was home:

A row of canvas wall tents

This canvas condo is richly furnished with two wiry beds, two thin mattresses, and one sturdy foot locker. Also an electrical strip. (For the less-intrepid camper, bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot showers reside nearby.)

If the plush get-up doesn’t excite you, please consider the way the wind whips the canvas walls during a storm, or the bears that stalk through camp. Think of the sunrise hikes, the well-trimmed lawn on the greens, and the lighting displays worthy of Nature Channel. But above all, think of the stars. I would happily gaze at that bespeckled ceiling every night of my life.

There’s more than scenery, of course. The people are lovely too.

Why are Philfolk so great?

(1) There is a high bar for employee conduct—namely, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

(2) There is a low bar for friends and fashion—that is, befriend everyone, and forgo fashion. Shapeless uniforms, flannel shirts, and Chacos are on fleek.

Also, songs with gusto is entirely acceptable; singing the correct tune and lyrics is optional.

One last thing. I included “Peeing in the Woods” in the title. I confess, it was just a literary hook, but it only seems right to address it now. There is a special sort of confidence that comes from heeding the call of nature whilst in nature: no toilet paper, no porcelain seat, and hopefully no onlookers (does that anxiety ever go away?). As a Philmont employee, you will have ample opportunities to practice your form.

So live it up, my friends. Apply now.

* The pay rate is decent. Food and housing (erm, “tenting”) are provided. So if you don’t blow all your income on weekend trips to Taos and Trinidad, you’ll have enough for fall tuition, my studious friend.

** The staff numbers over 1,100, with positions like rangers, wranglers, tent repair, bear researchers, kitchen staff, medical staff, conservation crew, preschool leaders, craft center workers, library staff, museum staff, and back country staff. I honestly think there’s something ​for everyone.

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Jenny Harris
Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she’s crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family’s goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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0 Responses

  1. Preach the Philmont goodness! And to anyone reading this comment, please consider that the author herself proclaimed not to be much of an outdoorsy type when I convinced her to apply.

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