Trail of Courage

The Trail of Courage program began in the summer of 2011. Read the pledge booklet here.

Total Participants and Staff participating in the program = 14,190

2016 Philmont Participation (September 16, 2016)
Total Crews = 2,230 Total Crews taking the pledge = 1,455 % participating = 65.2%
Total Participants = 22,916 Total Participants taking the pledge = 13,526 % participating = 59.0%
Total Staff = 1,130 Total Staff taking the pledge = 664 % participating = 58.8%

The Trail of Courage – Right Decisions/Right Now Program was introduced to all backcountry participants and staff (22,916 participants and 1,130 staff). In addition, the program was introduced at the Philmont Training Center to 1,870 family participants and at Rayado Ridge Leadership Camp to an additional 500 participants. A total of 26,416 individuals were introduced to the program over the summer months of 2016.

Staff Participation

  • 664 staff members took the pledge.
  • The program was shared with each manager during the Leadership Conference on May 23rd. (120 Managers and Assistant Managers)
  • Ranger Leadership was briefed on the program. (40 members of Ranger Leadership)
  • All Staff Training – The program was introduced to all staff members during the All Staff training on May 29th. (1000 staff members present)
  • 18 sessions of Aims and Methods and Philmont Brand training were conducted. The program was shared with all staff to indicate that each crew leadership position was responsible for guiding their crew in moments of conversation along the trail. (1130 staff)
    • Crew Leader – Trail of Courage – Right Decisions/Right Now – Be Tobacco Free
    • Chaplain Aide – Duty to God
    • Wilderness Pledge Guia – Wilderness Pledge Achievement Award
  • Detailed training was presented to each Ranger during the Ranger Rendezvous on June 4 and June 21. Discussion of each of the seven parts was provided. (250 Rangers and Ranger Leadership)
  • A copy of the brochure was given to each Ranger for them to study to understand how to guide the Crew Leader in implementing the program to their crew.
  • Each staff member has been provided a copy of the brochure with a special staff pledge form.
  • An article was included in the PhilNews staff newspaper.

Participant Participation

  • 13,526 participants took the pledge in 2016. This was an increase from 11,404 in 2015.
  • Information was included in the Philmont 2016 – Guidebook to Adventure. Each participant receives a copy of this booklet.
  • Each crew receives two copies of the brochure and pledge form during check-in by their Ranger.
  • A kiosk about the Trail of Courage Program was on display at the medical recheck pavilion. Rangers made a presentation about the program to their crew when they visited this location as part of their day of check-in.
  • Advisors are informed of the program during the Advisor’s Meeting. 67 meetings were conducted during the summer by a member of Ranch Leadership, during which the importance of being tobacco free was emphasized, and the increase in teenage tobacco use was shared.
  • Rangers worked with Crew Leaders to help them understand the program. 67 Crew Leader’s Meetings were conducted during the summer, led by a Ranger Trainer.
  • Information was included in the Crew Leader Fieldbook.
  • Crew Leader and Advisor sign Ranger Training Card to indicate that the program was presented.
  • Pledge cards are submitted when crews check out and receive Philmont Arrowhead patches at Camping HQ. Special 2016 Patches and Boys’ Life pocket pledge cards are presented to Crew Leader to distribute to crew.
  • Reminder note and pledge card are presented to each crew who checks out without submitting pledge card.
  • The program was introduced to 363 NAYLE (National Advance Youth Leadership Experience) participants and 137 staff at the Rayado Ridge Leadership Camp.
  • The program was introduced to 1,870 family participants at the Philmont training Center.
  • A copy of the brochure, pledge form, and one patch were sent to each crew that did not submit a pledge form while at the Ranch, intended to be used to encourage the rest of the Troop of Crew to participate. These were sent on September 3rd.

Trail Of Courage Statisitcs

Year TOC Participants Philmont Participants % # of Crews Total Crews % Staff Participants Total Participants
2011 1,018 23,132 4.4 214 2,166 9.9 --- 1,018
(Partial Season)
2012 11,545 23,325 49.9 1,231 2,231 55.0 101 11,646
2013 13,482 21,712 62.1 1,490 2,135 69.8 203 13,685
2014 11,671 22,702 61.4 1,207 2,169 55.6 439 12,110
2015 11,404 21,992 51.9 1,096 2,098 52.2 669 12,073
2016 13,526 22,916 59.0 1,455 2,230 65.2 664 14,190

2016 Youth Crew Leader Comments

  • It was good to keep in our minds and know we made the right choice.
  • As none of us abused drugs or tobacco. It reminded us of the different kinds of crews that come to Philmont. It helped us set an example.
  • Explained how important it is to be healthy.
  • It changed the way they thought of keeping a healthy life style.
  • Good to revisit these life skills in the backcountry without all the distractions.
  • I feel the Trail of Courage helped educate the crew and they responded positively to its format.
  • This program was good because it gave us things to think about at the end of the day.
  • It gave us something to think about and something to talk about on the trail. The Trail of Courage provided interesting conversation for out crew. It will definitely help us later in life.
  • It was well done and it helped us understand the dangers and gave us inspiration not to do it.
  • Trail of Courage taught us how important it is to stick to Scouting principles and stay away from destructive life decisions.
  • Most of it was well known to us, and was more of a reminder than a lesson.
  • Good discussions started with the Trail of Courage.
  • It made for good discussion materials and is a good reminder of dangers of smoking.
  • A good eye opener to problems with tobacco.
  • The Trail of Courage Program allowed the Scouts to get a different view of their society while removed from it, causing more effective changes.
  • It was eye opening to everyone.
  • Made us think about our health choices.
  • The Trail of Courage Program was great! I got very emotional and I hope that the program will affect our lives in the future.
  • Nice added program.
  • We all took the pledge of being drug free and exercise more often. Personally I took Philmont as a test of my physical strength.
  • It helped remind us of why we are Scouts and the ideals of Scouting.

2016 Adult Advisor Comments

  • These issues already stressed in the Scouting program – provided good reinforcement.
  • Informative and presented well.
  • We had a lively and engaging discussion one evening and learned a lot of personal challenges that affected our crew members!
  • The talk and the booklet was an unexpected and very useful tool. Our Ranger presented the material in a very thoughtful and personal manner. It was a highlight of our training with him.
  • One crew member (Advisor) quit (31 year habit)
  • The Trail of Courage program helped a member of our crew quit smoking.
  • I like that it gave us another chance to talk to the Scout on this subject. I think it really got them to think about life and the choices.
  • Good discussions each evening. It added to our communication to discuss things that go on in our daily lives and pressures on teenagers.
  • We did this as part of our evening devotional. It was a good supporting message of developing healthy habits and avoiding some negatives. It also allowed us as adults to have an open conversation with the Scouts.
  • The boys witnessed firsthand by our physical discrepancies the need to maintain good physical condition. Keep the program!
  • Our entire crew signed the pledge and abide by its principles.
  • Excellent thought providing questions for “off-trail” life.
  • It was very helpful. It really surprised me how some of the Scouts weren’t well informed about cancer signs.
  • We took it seriously and had good conversations.
  • It gave our crew some structure which was needed and drew good participation.
  • Great touch point for other discussions.
  • This was a great program. It provided opportunity to discuss situations with the Scouts that otherwise might not have happened.
  • Helped crew reflect on their life.


About Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont Scout Ranch, the Boy Scouts of America's premier High Adventure™ base, challenges Scouts and Venturers with more than 214 square miles of rugged northern New Mexico wilderness. Backpacking treks, horseback cavalcades, and training and service programs offer young people many ways to experience this legendary country.