Basking Ridge, NJ, July 3, 2014…Eight members of Basking Ridge Boy Scout Troop 555 and four adult leaders depart July 11 on a life-changing summer trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. The group, will hike 63 miles on trails ranging from altitudes of 6,500 feet to 12,441 feet over the course of 12 days.

“We’ve been physically and mentally preparing for this trip for the past 18 months,” says the group’s designated crew chief Gregory Najarian, of Basking Ridge. “We’re definitely up for the challenge.”

Najarian, who will enter his junior year at Pingry this fall, reports that the group has been hiking together every two weeks, learning to work together as a team, getting acclimated to carrying 50 lb. backpacks and breaking in their hiking boots.  The scouts and leaders all took a CPR course and some of them also studied wilderness medicine in preparation for any unforeseen medical issues.

“We’ll be carrying everything we need to survive on our backs while hiking from camp to camp, so we need to be strong and fit,” adds Najarian, who says he’s been lifting weights at least three times a week for the past year.

David Vaccarello, a rising junior at Ridge High School, reports that in addition to the group hikes, he’s been running 2-3 miles each day and walking on a treadmill with a 50 lb backpack and boots.  Vaccarello will serve as the crew reporter by documenting each day’s events and taking photos.  He will also join Basking Ridge resident Conor Mahoney, a rising freshman at Pingry, in the role of crew cook.

Other crew positions include:  Tommy Martinson, a rising sophomore at Ridge High School, as Chaplain Aid; Ethan Kroeger, a rising sophomore at Ridge High School, as Wilderness Pledge Guide; Navigators Christian Brady and Joe Criscione, both rising juniors at Ridge High School; Fire and Water Team members Joe Brady, a rising junior at Ridge High School, Ethan Kroeger, and Joe Criscione; and Clean-up Crew members Christian Brady and Tommy Martinson.

Adult Leaders embarking on the trip include Basking Ridge residents Dr.Larry Najarian, Lloyd Martinson, Mike Mahoney, and Joseph Criscione, Sr.

Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camp and the largest youth camp in the world serving nearly one million participants since 1938. It covers 214 square miles of vast wilderness, once traversed by legends of the American West.

For more on Philmont Scout Ranch, visit:


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