Chandler receives prestigious Philmont Staff Association Award

Dawn Chandler, formerly of the Watchung Area Council now Patriots’ Path Council, has received the prestigious Philmont Staff Association’s (PSA) Silver Sage Award. The award is “presented to those who have provided exceptional service to Philmont, its participants, the PSA, or any field of human endeavor that brings honor and credit to the legacy of the Philmont staff.”

Dawn is a 1983 graduate of Bridgewater Raritan High School East, a 1988 Bachelor of Fine Arts-Miami University of Ohio, and a 1993 Master of Fine Arts-University of Pennsylvania.

Dawn served on Philmont Staff as a Ranger (1983/84), Ranger Trainer (1985/87), First Female Camp Director (1988/89), First Executive Director of the Philmont Staff Association (1997/03), and Art Director of the PSA’s High Country Magazine (2004/13).

Dawn is a full time Santa Fe, New Mexico artist. She paints traditional landscapes of New Mexico, in particular the Philmont region, as well as contemporary abstract lands-inspired paintings. Her art can be viewed on her website at

Born and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey to Stephen and Marion Chandler. “Dad was a life-long outdoorsman. As a youth he enjoyed hiking in the Appalachian Mountains. He introduced mom to backpacking as newlyweds. Together with their young family they explored the New Jersey and New York mountains, frequenting Bear Mountain and Harriman State Park. Dad made it to Life Scout but never pursued his Eagle — a lifelong regret.”

Dawn’s older Eagle Scout brothers, Eric & Mark, and their wives have all served on the Philmont summer staff. Mark currently serves as a doctor in Philmont’s Health Lodge.

“In the mid-1970s, Eric, Mark and dad became involved in Bridgewater Troop 88. The troop leadership hoped “Doc Chandler”, being an MD, would want to teach First Aid merit badge, but that was the last thing he wanted to do. Rather, he introduced the troop to backpacking and Troop 88 became known as a ‘backpacking troop’.”

Doc led Troop 88 on their first Philmont Treks in 1977 and 1978, including Eric and Mark as members of the crew. In late 1979 the Chandlers and the Hitzels, another Troop 88 family with a daughter, plus a bunch of local teens came together and formed Explorer Post 1840.

In 1980 Explorer Post 1840 went to Philmont — the first co-ed crew from the Watchung Area Council to go to Philmont. The crew was made up of 6 girls and 4 boys; Dawn’s parents were the advisors and Dawn’s brother Eric was their ranger. Dawn returned again to Philmont in 1981 with her Explorer post, this time as crew leader. Back again in 1982 as a “Rayado Woman”.