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I Wanna Go Back: Stories of the Philmont Rangers

ranger coverOrder now. Ships (nearly) the same day.

If there is an icon in Scouting who personifies the movement’s aspiration to build the most physically fit, principled leaders in the next generation of Americans, it is the legendary Philmont Ranger. These remarkable young men (and since 1972, young women) “live the dream” in the mountains of New Mexico, and anyone who has been to the ranch knows one when he sees one:

“Sticking out of the hip pocket would be a folded Philmont map, its layers pressed into a sweaty, body-molded state. The ranger hiked in well-made ankle-top boots, well broken, over double layers of sweat socks. He soon wore a tawny, sun-baked look and an unstyled head of hair. He walked with a long, muscled gait that was conditioned from mountain miles under a backpack. But he never looked so much like a ranger as when he was marinated in a film of sweat and soot and trail dust. That was a ranger.”

In August of 2007, hundreds of former Philmont Rangers converged on the Ranch for a rendezvous celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ranger Department. Stories of the people, the place, and the program that make Philmont so special tumbled over themselves faster than any one person could record them all. So, the Philmont Staff Association, determined that someone needed to do so, persuaded Warren Smith, himself a former Ranger, a published author, and currently publisher of World magazine, to pull it all together.

The result is a wonderful book entitled “I Wanna Go Back: Stories of the Philmont Rangers”. It is a captivating read – part history, part Philmont legends, part “coming of age” story, and a large part of the exuberance of youthful idealism played out in the “purple mountains and azure skies” of Philmont Scout Ranch. It is the quintessential “Philmont book” and an absorbing read which reaffirms all that is best in Scouting. Even those who have never set foot on Philmont will find it impossible to put down.

Copies (at $16 each with volume discounts available) may be purchased on line at or by calling the Philmont Staff Association at the Ranch: 575-376-1138.


  1. I have the shirt, backpack and patch shown on the cover. Nice touch. The book is on the Christmas list I gave my kids.

  2. I ordered this about a week ago and haven’t received any update on shipping or the status of my order (besides the initial confirmation). Are y’all awake down there in Cimmaron?

  3. Give Randy a call about this at 575-376-1138.

  4. I received I Wanna Go Back for Christmas and read it cover to cover in no time flat-I just could not put it down! What a flood of memories of my Rangering days of the mid- Seventies this wonderful book brought back. The section devoted to the memory of my dear Ranger and Clarks Fork backcountry friend Kelly Reese brought tears. Thank you, Warren for memories from the most defining,endearing, summers of my life.

  5. I ordered a copy for my brother who was a ranger in the early 90’s for Christmas. Ordered on the 13th, still no copy…
    Does anyone know why?

  6. Colleen, please contact Randy as I recommended to Eric above.

  7. My daughter ordered book for her father for Christmas. Her account has been debited (12/6/01). She has called and left voice mail with Randy. Still no call back or book delivered

  8. @donna, I forwarded your note to Randy when I saw it late Friday. I’ll get in touch with him in the office Monday to make sure he saw it.


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