Philmont - Preparation

Aug 1, 2015 by Matt Dixon


No matter the adventure, preparation is always needed. Whether it is running a marathon, starting a business, or backpacking 90 miles through Northern New Mexico, there is a certain level of preparation required in order to be successful. Depending on the adventure, preparation is critical even for completion.

Equipment and Gear

The equipment list for Philmont was extremely detailed; It should be, there have been crews backpacking in the back country for 75 years. I was grateful for the extensive equipment list.

Our highest campsite was at 11,100 feet (3,383 m). It had been raining every day, and moisture management was critical. After a torrential downpour, we finally got reprieve, and the sun came out. It was still cold, and at one point I was wearing all the clothing I had with me. Without the required gear, I could have become hypothermic. Not good.


Training is also important. Sitting at a desk, writing code all day, didn’t exactly prepare me for being on my feet all day for 12 days straight. I knew that would be an issue for me, and my feet were my greatest struggle. More time on my feet hiking and running would have helped.

Knowledge / Knowhow

One example of our trip is the last night we were there. We were all tired, just hiked 85 of the 89 miles, and were ready to take a break. We got to the campground and saw a nearby campsite with a couple trees. That’s where I wanted to camp. My son, however, hiked up a small, but steep hill, and found an even better campsite. I grumbled, but once I got up there was glad that we were above everything and out of the way. Later on that afternoon there was a torrential downpour that lasted about 45 minutes, then a lighter rain continued for a couple hours after that. Once the rain stopped we saw the damage a flash flood can do when the water level on a stream raises 6 to 8 feet. Thanks to my son, we were far away from the chaos.

Software Project Preparation

Backpacking is great, but what does that have to do with writing software? How do we prepare for a change in our approach with software projects? Glad you asked.

A lot of organizations are trying to implement Scrum. We will use that for illustration purposes.

Equipment and Gear

Fortunately, the equipment list is not as extensive as Philmont. You will probably not need water purification tablets, rain gear, or a first aid kit. You will however need the right tools for the job. Remember your Dad telling you about this?

I personally like the new enhancements to TFS. They have a good web based UI which makes walking the board easy, and keep the focus on tracking progress.


Research is good, but training is better. It is important that everyone on the team speaks the same language, has the same vision, and can work together to achieve success. Scrum, while a fairly simple concept, is difficult for teams to implement without training. It is too easy to slip back into old habits, and ignore the potential value if Scrum is followed. Having a proper business owner, as an example, is often difficult to achieve without external training.

Knowledge / Knowhow

Bring someone onboard who has successfully implemented Scrum and used it effectively on one or more projects. Just as with backpacking, you will need a guide. Trust me, taking a little extra time up front to avoid the equivalent of a flash flood is critical.