Philmont Scout Ranch

Project Overview

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, 2018 Philmont Scout Ranch participants are invited to submit a 1-Page Essay exploring how walking slowly through a place and observing it closely, leads to a larger understanding of that environment and the broader world.  A Scout will travel to Asia 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).

1-Page Essay

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 I see, and experience connect to my larger community?  This could include the environment, human relations, migration, or technology to questions about economics, culture, and 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 a 1-Page 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 did slowing down at Philmont help you reflect on your experience in Scouting? How did you grow and learn as a result from working with crewmembers and staff while 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:

2. Read the first National Geographic cover story from the project here:

3. Read the milestone description: 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:

- Milestone 13 Bedouin Country:

- Milestone 15 Shoreline:

- Milestone 18 Displaced:

- Milestone 25 "Flocks":

- Milestone 29 "Crossroads": (Watch this video for a more detailed report on this milestone from PBS Newshour:

- Watch the storytelling video:

4. After you return home from Philmont, take a hike (this 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 2 written milestones – the 1st from your hike and the 2nd from your experience at the Philmont.  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.

1-Page Essay – Guidelines

Essays should be 400-500 words in length and 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 and from your experience at Philmont.  (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 should be typed into the field within the application.  (Please write and save essay drafts prior 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. We recommend writing and submitting your essays not too long after you return home, but essays are due by 11:59 PM on October 30, 2018. 

Note – All 2018 Philmont youth and adult attendees 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!

Supporting Evidence

Beyond the essay requirements listed above, Paul hopes to understand how you actively embraced and adopted the journaling concepts he introduced at Philmont.  This body of work will strengthen your consideration for being selected to walk with Paul in Asia.  Examples include:

1. Journal Reflections – Reflections recorded in your Passport Journals during your time at Philmont. 

2. Collecting Stamps – Evidence that you actively collected Philmont passport stamps and participated in the activity areas.

3. Online Posts – Evidence that you shared online milestones and reflections from your experience at Philmont. Use the hashtag #PhilmontJournal (these can be Twitter, Instagram, or public Facebook posts).