Cimarron, N.Mex. – R.W. Hampton, nationally recognized Western singer, songwriter and entertainer, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Philmont Staff Association’s Distinguished Staff Alumni Award. Hampton, of Miami, NM, will receive the award and serve as the keynote speaker at the opening assembly for Philmont’s 1100 seasonal staff members on the evening of May 29 at Philmont.
Hampton, a 2011 inductee into the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame, was named by American Cowboy magazine in 2013 as one of the “50 Greatest Country & Western Singers,” alongside performers like George Strait, Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Gene Autry. He’s a four-time recipient of the Academy of Western Artists’ Male Vocalist of the Year award and the 2009 recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the American Cowboy Culture Association.
Hampton got his performing start playing the guitar and singing at cowboy campfires at Philmont Scout Ranch, where he worked as a wrangler in backcountry camps during the summers from 1974 through 1976. He went on to work as a cowboy on ranches all over the West, in New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, but all the while continued his singing and songwriting. In 1988, he made the career leap to full-time entertaining, and has earned “a wagonload of awards” for his work since then.
Thirteen albums, including a Christmas collection and two gospel albums, bear his name. Austin to Boston, released in 2010, ranked as the number one most played western album in 2011. A 2008 album, Oklahoma . . . Where the West Remains, recorded with the Enid Symphony Orchestra, earned Traditional Western Album of the Year awards from both the Western Music Association and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Hampton’s resume’ includes performances at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Hampton’s entertaining skills aren’t confined to singing and songwriting. R.W. has also appeared in more than a dozen movies alongside Western stars like Kenny Rogers, Ben Johnson, Richard Farnsworth and Kris Kristofferson, playing characters ranging from a quintessential frontier marshal to a hand known only as “Scar.” He also stars in a critically acclaimed one-man stage play, The Last Cowboy – His Journey, in which he plays an aging cowboy in 2025 recounting the history of the American cowboy through monologue and song.
The Distinguished Staff Alumni Award (DSAA) is presented annually by the Philmont Staff Association (PSA) to recognize “distinguished or exceptional personal success or achievement on a national or international level by a current or former Philmont staff member, in any field of human endeavor, that brings honor and credit to the legacy of the Philmont staff.”
Hampton is the seventh recipient of this award. Previous recipients include Wally Berg, internationally known mountaineer and explorer; the late Steve Fossett, world record aviator and adventurer, and Rick Searfoss, former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander.
The Philmont Staff Association is the alumni organization for current and former members of the staff of Philmont Scout Ranch, the Boy Scouts of America’s national high adventure backpacking base in northern New Mexico and largest private camp in the world.