Advanced Outdoor Skills

To help your crew be more prepared for your Philmont trek, this section will cover more Philmont-specific skills than the first part of the guide.

First Aid – There are many different first aid situations your crew may encounter while on the trail. Here are the most common injuries and ailments at Philmont and how to prevent, recognize, and treat them:


  • Prevent: Drink plenty of water, about one quart per hour of activity.
  • Recognize: Lightheaded, dizzy, nausea, slow capillary refill.
  • Treatment: Reduce physical activity and drink water. Drinking too much too quickly will make the patient vomit. Half-strength Gatorade will hydrate much quicker than water or full-strength Gatorade. Full-strength Gatorade is so saturated that your body treats it more like a solid than a liquid whereas half-strength has the electrolytes you need and your body will absorb it faster.


  • Prevent: Wear well broken in footwear, keep feet dry, change socks regularly, avoid hot spots on feet and fix issues with boots before they become a problem.
  • Recognize: A slight burning feeling (hot spot) on the foot; common on days with a lot of downhill hiking or when your feet get wet.
  • Treat: Use moleskin and cut out a hole the size of the blister to create a donut shaped bandage. Place the moleskin over the affected area so that the blister is surrounded by the bandage but not covered. This will reduce friction between the blister and the sock, preventing the blister from getting any larger.

Heat exhaustion

  • Prevent: Take breaks, stay hydrated, stay in shaded areas as much as possible.
  • Recognize: Profuse sweating, red skin, elevated temperature, irritability, lethargic.
  • Treat: Sit down in shade and put a wet bandana over the forehead. Drink half-strength Gatorade to replenish fluids and electrolytes. If heat exhaustion is treated appropriately, heat stroke will not occur. Heat stoke happens when the body runs out of fluids to sweat and the patient begins to exhibit an altered level of consciousness and it becomes life-threatening.

Altitude sickness

  • Prevent: Stay hydrated and do not gain elevation too quickly
  • Recognize: Similar to dehydration, lightheaded, dizzy, nausea, decreased appetite
  • Treat: Drink half-strength Gatorade and limit physical activity. If patient begins to exhibit an altered level of consciousness, does not feel better after three days, or cannot keep slow sips of fluids down, get to a lower elevation.

Sprained ankle

  • Prevent: Watch where you are going, avoid horseplay, wear mid- to high-top boots
  • Recognize: Soreness of the ankle, unable to put pressure on ankle for at least four steps
  • Treat: Use R.I.C.E. acronym: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Keep boot on to prevent swelling, splint with sticks on both sides of the leg and wrap to immobilize


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.