Scramble - Be Flexible
The title is the Philmont Ranger motto, and the way of life for everyone associated with Philmont this season. Whether Philmont staff, youth participant, or volunteer adult, many people have had their summer plans turned on end by the closure of the Philmont backcountry due to extreme wildfire danger. Some have tried to be flexible and scrambled to arrange replacement adventures, others have postponed their treks to next year or 2020, while a very few have just vented their frustration to the online abyss.
This is an historic event, being the first time Philmont has closed its backcountry. So, how do you handle a catastrophy that completely shuts down your $20million/year business for an entire season? Philmont appears to be doing everything the best way possible, and making the vast majority of effected clients as happy as possible.
By making the decision to cancel their entire season, Philmont put the safety of participants and the quality of their experience far above the sunk costs by participants and loss of revenue to their business. Once that decision came about, figuring out who would bear the financial burdens was needed. Philmont offered refunds, alternate treks at other BSA high adventure bases, or replacement treks in 2020. Some cancelled crews are also able to slip a year to open 2019 dates, but only if there are open treks. Those options really should cover nearly everyone and demonstrate a high sense of responsibility on behalf of Philmont.
Depending on where the crew resides, the actual Philmont fee of a trek can be just half (or less) of the total cost. Many cancelled crews are on the hook for payments made to transportation companies, whether airlines, trains, buses, or shuttles. Many people are happily reporting that SouthWest Airlines and Frontier Airlines have been great about refunding fees. Leading the Way Tours appears to be refunding nicely, while BlueSky Adventures is getting some bad online exposure from folks saying they will not refund, or have given 50% refunds. Hopefully, that will change.
Some things to learn from this situation:
- Understand that, as a leader, your highest priority is safety of participants. The decision to cancel or alter an event due to any perceived danger is the right choice, whether it is a fire, blizzard, flood warning, high winds, or any other potential situation.
- Know the refund policy of companies you deal with for transportation or recreation, especially with regards to natural events.
- Consider travel cancellation insurance - and know what it really covers and how to file a claim.
Read the official Philmont Announcement about their closure.
If you're looking for an alternate High Adventure for this summer (or just to consider for future treks), here is a List of some cool adventures.
Many scouts and adults will probably be reciting the famous Philmont saying "I Wanna Go Back To Philmont" for the next year, just without the "Back" part.
Were you scheduled for Philmont this summer? What did your crew decide to do instead?
Posted: 13:25 07-05-2018 1343
Aug 01, 2018 - Doug
I think a better use of the participants would be to assign 2 or more experienced Rangers to the trek crews and have them go out and do conservation/rebuilding projects.
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