On our last day at Philmont, there was much to do, at least for me and Makayla. Check-out isn’t as stressful as check-in, but you have to go to each station (Camping, Logistics, Services, etc.) and get signed out. She and I took care of the bureaucracy while the others ate ice cream and played cards at the Tooth of Time Traders. We joined them when everything was taken care of, with time to spare for some last minute shopping.
We left Base Camp about ten o’clock. I felt like a man on the moon, like I only weighed one-sixth my earthbound weight. Not having a pack on was an amazing experience!
We drove down to the little village of Rayado to visit Kit Carson’s home and the old inn there. Bought some souvenirs. Then it was back to Cimarron for a big lunch at Heck’s Diner, after which it was time to shop for the homebound trip and head out of town.
Our first day back was to be an easy one. We went no farther than Clayton Lake State Park, NM, barely a hundred miles from Philmont. There’s a nice lake there, and some interesting dinosaur tracks down by the dam. We relaxed. Our first supper on the road home was corn on the cob and boiled potatoes (with lots of real butter), cottage cheese and fresh tomatoes – and bacon. Bacon makes everything better.
The next day was a long, long drive across Oklahoma. We stopped for lunch at a roadside picnic table outside Slapout, OK. It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. My A/C was acting up, so we stopped in Woodward, OK, and got a new doohickey for it that restored it, more or less. After eleven hours’ travel, we pulled in just at dusk to Twin Bridges State Park between Tulsa and Joplin. Cicadas were humming in the trees, and the humidity would have taken the starch out of a fireplace poker. A gibbous moon with a halo sailed overhead next to a twinkling Antares. It looked like rain, but it was just Midwest humidity.
We spent a restless, hot night, but got up and out of camp in good order. As we went through Springfield, MO, we stopped to tour the big Bass Pro Shop there. They had a champion stuffed alligator gar over eight feet long. As we passed through Missouri, the kids began pointing out all the “Adult Superstore” billboards, just like when we passed through on our way west. Poor Missouri: their new motto must be The Porn State.
As we got close to Indiana, we called ahead to tell people we were coming. I put Carmina Burana into my CD player and cranked it up loud. We made our last stop in Terre Haute, and cruised (quietly now) over familiar country, arriving home at 7:30 p.m. We set up the tents to air out, got everybody’s gear sorted out, had a prayer and went home to sleep in our own beds once again.
This year’s United Methodist Trek is now history. I will report to the NAUMS Board and the Scouting Ministry Committee at Nashville on how it went this fall. But the question remains, what now?
I’m sure that NAUMS wants to do this again. We’d like to have a regularly occurring UM Trek at Philmont. Once a quadrennium, every other year, who knows? That’s still to decide.
Also still to decide is the mode of our offering. We tried to do a national call and put together a scratch Trek with youth from all over, and it didn’t work. Maybe if we advertised it differently or something, it would work. Maybe now that we’ve done it, it’ll work better next time. But maybe we need to do as Councils do, and whenever it comes time to do a UM Trek, pick crew advisors, train them to do a program that embodies our values as UM Scouters, and let them take people from their locales. Or, maybe we need to offer a weeklong UM Mountain Man/Woman Trek during Relationships Week. All these options will be on the table this fall as we critique the past and plan the future. If anybody out there’s got an idea on how we ought to go about doing a UM Trek at Philmont, let me know.
The Rev. Arthur W. Collins, Ph.D.
President of NAUMS
Pastor, Ellettsville First UMC
Venturing Crew 119 Advisor
Rougher Tougher Buffer Duffer
Kit Carson's home and trading post are still there, along the Santa Fe Trail