By Jim Finley
CIMARRON, N.M. –– Wow! Philmont –– awe inspiring, majestic, comforting, assuring, and the most magical place of scouting.
At first glance the center seems the same as it was in the 1970s when I was here last. At that time, I was new to scouting and Philmont seemed necessary if I wanted to become an effective leader.
Now, as a PRAY (Programs of Religious Activities with Youth).counselor and troop chaplain I attended a 2014 workshop on “Scouting in the United Methodist Church.”
My attendance at the Philmont workshop began last winter when I received an invitation from Larry Coppock to become a scouting ministry specialist.
I submitted my application and became the 282nd member of that group of experienced scouters, but it was only after I arrived at Philmont that I began to understand my new role in scouting.
Having served as president of a group of UM Men in the late 1980s, I thought I knew what it was all about. But, I learned it was more vigorous, more get-with-it; and more shed-some-sweat, than I had envisioned.
My class was the best of the best.
Five clergy and lay leaders taught us how to lead Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, 4-H, and Campfire USA and PRAY programs.
Learning? Oh yes. ––Fresh ideas, novel approaches, and innovative ways to implement tried-and-true methods.
You know what? Very little, came from a printed manual. Most of the ideas came from the seasoned scouting veterans –– young and old alike. They came from the enthusiastic staffers; other attendees, and Mark Wappel, a professional scouter.
We learned from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles; UM brothers and sisters; who are passionate about following Christ and who understand that youth are the future of the UMC.
Oh yes, before I forget ––Philmont Training Center has greatly improved with individual showers and restrooms, additional training buildings, and improved dining halls and meals.
The center seems more organized and responsive to attendees, but the center has the same mystique, the same displays of servant leadership, and the same caring and nurturing staff.
So what did I take away from my experience at Philmont?
Thank you for asking.
I am more energized about scouting, more engaged with UM Men, and more passionate about youth development.
What more would you need?
Scouting in the United Methodist Church
Philmont Training Center
June 22 to 28, 2014
Twenty-eight Scout leaders participated in the 2014 training experience.
Led by John Anderson, scouting coordinator of the Western Jurisdiction, participants were divided into three “societies” (working groups): the John Wesley Society, shepherded by Bill Byrd; Charles Wesley Society, shepherded by John Dockery; and Susanna Wesley Society, shepherded by Susan Lawyer.
Amanda Vogt served as assistant director, and the Rev. Greg Godwin and BSA official Mark Wappel served as advisers.
Topics included PRAY awards, Strength for Service devotional books; charter organization representatives; local church coordinators, and safe-sanctuary and youth-protection programs.
Bob Scott, a developer of the new Cub Scout program, gave a synopsis of all changes. Rudy Gonzalez and Oscar Santoyo, national coaches for reaching out to the Hispanic/Latino communities offered new tools to expand ministries.