Signs of spring are appearing all over the country – snow is slowly melting, birds are singing, and the sun is rising a little earlier every day. On college campuses and in homes, email is being checked daily for that sought after note that a Philmont contract is on it’s way.
By the time this goes to print, about half the staff will have received their contract in the mail and are busy planning for the summer. Through the Staff Amigos Program, those of us who are not lucky enough to be headed for the Sangres this May can still be involved. This program is here to help you reach out to this year’s staff. It is as easy or hard as you choose to make it, and can be a lot of fun.
Just pick a group of staff: you can befriend a backcountry camp, the medical staff, a Ranger Crew, PTC, or any other group. I will start taking requests in early April, and groups are assigned first come, first served. I will send you a list of ideas and suggestions but also encourage you to be creative. You can send one package or several smaller ones, postcards and letters. Just think of what you might have wanted to receive when you were working at the Ranch, what you missed the most.
Look out for early April when I will open up the selection. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for your consideration! Cathy Hubbard At a loss for words? Here’s a suggested format for a letter to accompany your Amigo Care Package:
Dear [insert name of staff or department], Greetings from a [year(s) on staff] Philstaffer!
I treasure the time I was able to spend in God’s Country working with some of the best people imaginable. But I also remember hitting a point each summer when I really missed some of the stuff I left behind in the civilized world. I hope this package helps you through those doldrums.
Those of us who have had the privilege of working at Philmont share an unusual experience and outlook. We have had opportunities to develop skills and friendships in an unusual setting. Someday your non-Philmont friends will wonder what planet you came from when you share some of these experiences. Tell them a story about [drop in an appropriate anecdote or reference here] and watch their jaws drop or their eyes roll! Only those of us who have shared the frustrations and exhilarations of serving on the Philmont Staff can appreciate fully what these experiences have meant in the shaping of our lives.
That’s why the Philmont Staff Association was formed: to allow current and former staff to maintain their links to each other and the unique place that is Philmont. Stop by the PSA office in the Beaubien-Miranda building at PTC to learn about the Staff Association and how you can be a part of us.
Down the road, when you begin to yearn for the smell of Ponderosa and the bear in your adventures has grown from a 150-pound cinnamon to a 500-pound Grizzly, you will appreciate the ability to reconnect with others who share those memories. Enjoy the Care Package. Enjoy your summer. If you can find the time, let me hear from you. I’d love to hear about the challenges, frustrations, and successes that mark the lives of today’s Philstaffers.
IWTGBTP, [Your Name Here]
Share any memorable moments from your days on staff. Who knows, you may inspire some of them to recreate your “achievements.” Be sure to include your contact information (legibly printed name, address, etc.) inside your package.
Care Package Suggestions
Keep the amenities already available to your befriended staff in mind. Basecamp Staffers have access to electricity; the Cypher’s Mine staff doesn’t. But the Basecamp Staffers aren’t able to do their own cooking. Rangers will appreciate stuff that can make their HQ time more pleasant as well as “trail aids,” but Rangers are also harder to get stuff to as a group.
From the responses of former adopted staffers…
Upgraded staples: decent toilet paper; gourmet coffee, tea, hot chocolate, drink mix (variety flavors and better than the standard bug juice), spices and seasonings, tobasco sauce, etc.
Diet Enhancements: cake or cookie mixes, nuts, beef log/summer sausage, different pastas, dried fruit (something other than banana chips and pineapple), quality canned goods, etc.
Snacks and goodies: chocolates, gourmet potato chips (packing challenge), cookies, candy, snack cakes, popcorn (stovetop for the backcountry—microwave for HQ), etc.
Reading material: Anything! Magazines related to the camp or department (photo mags for NPS, Guns & Ammo for Sawmill, REI Catalog for the Rangers), paperbacks, comics, Uncle John’s, Darwin Awards, stuff that can be passed around. Games, puzzles, SODOKU, crosswords, cards.
Other diversions: squirt guns, rubber band guns, Nerf-anything, Indoor Basketball, disposable cameras, harmonicas or other small instruments, Playdoh, coloring books, paint-by-number, hand-held electronics.
Personal comfort: moleskin, lotion, sunscreen, Chapstick, foot powder, wet-wipes/towelettes, Rolaids, Airborne Cold, eye drops, etc.
Remember, most staff say they appreciate a series of small packages instead of one big one (they get more mail), so start off small and ask what they’d find most helpful in a future delivery. That will help you get a response from your staffs and give you some ideas for what they’d appreciate most later in the summer.