NEW MEXICO - Dawn Chandler, a 1983 graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School East, received the prestigious Philmont Staff Association’s Silver Sage Award, which is presented to those who have provided exceptional service to Philmont, its participants and any other field that brings honor and credit to the Philmont staff.

Chandler was formerly of the Watchung Area Council, now the Patriots’ Path Council.

Chandler served on Philmont staff as a ranger, ranger trainer, first female camp director, first executive director of the Philmont Staff Association and art director of the PSA’s High Country Magazine.

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Now a fulltime New Mexico artist, Chandler paints traditional landscapes of New Mexico, as well as contemporary abstract land-inspired paintings, according to a release.

Chandler was raised in Bridgewater, with her parents, Stephen and Marion Chandler. Her older brothers, Eagle Scout brothers Eric and Mark, and their wives have all served on the Philmont summer staff.

“In the mid-1970s, Eric, Mark and dad became involved in Bridgewater Troop 88,” she said in the release. “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.’”

According to the release, Doc Chandler led Bridgewater Troop 88 on its first Philmont treks in 1977 and 1978, and in late 1979, the Chandlers and another family formed Explorer Post 1840.

In 1980, that troop went to Philmont as the first co-ed cred from the Watchung Area Council to go to Philmont.