In early 2013, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek embarked on a reporting mission to walk the same 21,000 mile path that modern humans took from Africa to South America over the course of roughly 50,000 years. The project is called the Out of Eden walk, and Paul's goal throughout is to take a slow approach to reporting that allows readers to reflect on how the small things we notice as we walk through the world reveal larger international issues. Drawing inspiration from Paul's Out of Eden Walk and the intentionality of Scouting, 2017 Philmont participants are invited to submit an essay exploring how walking slowly through a place, and observing it closely, leads to a larger understanding of the world. A Scout will travel to Nepal or northern India for an unforgettable two-day hike with Paul Salopek and his Out of Eden Walk Team (specific dates to be arranged at a time mutually compatible with the winner and Paul Salopek).

Essay Itinerary:

Using Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk and your experiences at Philmont as inspiration, take a hike somewhere in your community and note what you observe. Slow down, take notes, and think about what you see with clear focus and curiosity. Then ask, how does what you see and experience connect to your larger community. Reflect on how the things you notice while walking help connect to larger themes in the world.  (This could include anything from the environment to human relations, from migration and technology to questions of economics, culture or health). Think about how viewing these themes through the lens of Scouting widens your perspective, sharpens your focus, and informs your senses.  Finally, use your experience on the hike as research for an essay that addresses the following:

What do you notice about a place when you slow down? What do you see, hear, smell, feel? What do those things make you think about? How has being intentional through Scouting helped you reflect on ways to be engaged in your local community? How did you grow through learning experiences with crewmembers and staff while on the trail at Philmont? How has your trek changed how you look at the world and helped you think about your next steps in life?  

Preparation for the Walk:

1. Watch the introductory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mzDhqvQPqg

2. Read the first National Geographic cover story from the project here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/out-of-eden/salopek-text). 

3. Read the milestone description: http://www.outofedenwalk.com/milestones/ and then read the following milestones, noting how Paul engages all senses to notice a place slowly. Use the descriptions to identify connections Paul makes between what he sees and larger issues in the world:

 - Milestone 1 Herto Bouri: http://www.outofedenwalk.com/gallery/2013/01/milestone-1-herto-bouri/

- Milestone 13 Bedouin Country: http://www.outofedenwalk.com/gallery/2013/09/milestone-13-bedouin-country/

- Milestone 15 Shoreline: http://www.outofedenwalk.com/gallery/2013/10/milestone-15-shoreline/

- Milestone 18 Displaced: http://www.outofedenwalk.com/gallery/2014/01/milestone-18-displaced/

- Milestone 25 "Flocks": http://www.outofedenwalk.com/gallery/2014/10/milestone-25-flocks/

- Milestone 29 "Crossroads": http://www.outofedenwalk.com/gallery/2015/10/milestone-29-crossroads/ (Watch this video for a more detailed report on this milestone from PBS Newshour: http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/journalist-goes-walk-around-world-find-story-humanity

- Watch the storytelling video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfnVuLLK5V0

4. After you return home from Philmont, take a follow-up hike (could be in your neighborhood, a nearby community, or on a farther trip) and practice the observation techniques Paul explains in the materials above.

5. Record at least two written milestones from your hike or Philmont experience.  You will be submitting only written milestones for the essay selection, not photographs, video or audio.

After you have viewed and read the resources and taken your hike, write your essay. Please pay careful attention to the requirements below.

Essay Logistics (Requirements):

Essays should not exceed 500 words in length and should include:

1. An introduction responding to the essay topic above and explain why you think a "slow journalism" approach is useful and important. (Suggested length: 100-200 words)

2. Two milestones, modeled from those in the Out of Eden Walk, taken from your hike or Philmont experience. (Suggested length: 50-100 words per milestone)

3. A closing reflection on how your experience at Philmont changed how you look at the world, how you engage in your local community, and helped you think about your next steps in life?  (Suggested length: 50-100 words)

4. Essays must be submitted using the application link below.

5. Essays should be typed into the field within the application, but it is recommended that applicants write and save a draft of their essay before pasting it in the application field.

6. Submissions must be original, unpublished work, begin with a title and address the essay topic using examples from your hikes.

7. Essays should be thoughtfully written with a clear structure and rich details. Evaluators will also be looking for essays without grammar or spelling errors.

8. Essays be submitted by 11:59 PM on September 1, 2017 and must meet the requirements listed above.

Note – All 2017 Philmont youth and adult participants are encouraged to submit an essay, however walking with Paul will be reserved for a Boy Scout (under age 18) or Venturing Scout (under age 21). 

Submit your essay here!

Additional Evidence of Your Intentional Walk

Beyond the essay requirements listed above, Paul hopes to understand how you actively embraced and adopted the journaling concepts he introduced at Philmont. The body of work you established can also be presented in the following ways and will strengthen your opportunity of being selected to walk along with Paul.

1. Intentional reflections that were recorded in your Passport Journal during your trek.

2. Evidence that you actively collected Philmont passport stamps along the way.

3. Evidence that you shared a closing milestone or reflection online when you returned to Base Camp.  Two to three milestones will be shared each night at the Closing Campfire.  Use the hashtag #PhilmontJournal (these can be Twitter, Instagram, or public Facebook posts).  

Essay Selection:

Please read the Philmont Scout Ranch selection details below.  

1. All essays will be reviewed and be narrowed to a field of 20 applicants.

2. Those applicants will be contacted and asked to scan copies of their Passport Journals and submit evidence of their social media posts.

3. Ten applicants will be selected for phone interviews.

4. Three applicants will then be selected for in person interviews.   

5. One winner will be announced by November 1. 

Note – This same process will be used for the National Jamboree essay selections.