Catholic Scouting hosts biennial St. George Trek Print
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 -- 2:42 PM

Gus Quade, right, Eagle Scout, Troop 165, Dodgeville, stands on the MADISON -- DMCCS (Diocese of Madison Committee for Catholic Scouting) is now accepting applications for the biggest Catholic Scouting event in the country.

The St. George Trek, at Philmont, takes place every other year, and the next trek is planned for July of 2013, with applications being accepted until April 1, 2012.

The St. George Trek is a high adventure leadership program of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) for Catholic Scouts and Venturers at Philmont Scout Ranch. The program brings Catholic high school-age Boy Scouts and Venturers from around the country together with selected priests, religious, and seminarians for 11 days of backpacking on the trail in the context of a vocation retreat.


Any Catholic Boy Scout or Venturer in the Diocese of Madison who will be 15 years of age on or before July 1, 2013, and in high school in the fall of 2013 is eligible to apply for the Trek. Female Venturers may also apply, and a female crew will participate if there are sufficient applications.

Participants must be emotionally mature and have the stamina to backpack on mountain trails. As such, a strong background in hiking and camping is highly recommended. They must also meet the Philmont height and weight requirement, which can be found at Those selected may only attend St. George Trek one time.

Two nominees for the Diocese of Madison will be selected based on their Boy Scout of America (BSA) backgrounds and applications, as well as an interview with the DMCCS committee. The nominees' applications will then be sent to the National Committee for Catholic Scouting (NCCS), who will select Trek participants from nominees across the country.

Past participants

The Madison Diocese has been blessed with having three fine young Catholic Eagle Scouts selected by NCCS to be participants. In 2009, Scout Gabriel Szerlong hiked the Trek and was selected as his Crew Leader. Then, in 2011, two of our diocesan Eagle Scouts were chosen. Ryan (Gus) Quade and Ryan Prestil both participated in the mountainous adventure in July of last year. All three agree St. George Trek has been the single toughest Boy Scout experience of their life thus far. However, they also agree that they would "return in a heartbeat."

As part of the Trek experience, participants agree to commit to sharing their experience with troops, friends, and others when they return home. Since their Treks, Szerlong, Quade, and Prestil have all made presentations on the St. George Trek, and shared their personal experiences. They also remain active in their parishes and troops.

Quade and Prestil are currently completing work on their Pope Pius XII religious emblem. Prestil will be heading to the east coast for college this fall, while Szerlong is looking forward to working at Northern Tier (Boundary Waters) BSA ranch this summer, and plans to enter the seminary this fall. The DMCCS looks forward to sending more young men and women on the St. George Trek in 2013 and the future.

How to apply

Students who want to apply to be nominated for the St. George Trek in 2013 can find an application form online at or call the DMCCS Vocations Chair, Colleen Szerlong, at 608-868-6386, or the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Center at 608-821-3173 with any questions and to request an application. Applications should be received at the Diocese by Sunday, April 1, and those selected for interviews will be notified by phone before Monday, April 9.

Interviews with the DMCCS will take place on Saturday, April 14, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison. Two nominees will be selected from the interviews. The nominees' applications will then be sent on to NCCS for selection at the national level.


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