After a good experience in Cub Scouting, where he earned the Arrow of Light Award and the Parvuli Dei religious award, Windsor, Colo., native David Aragon’s tenure in Boy Scouting was cut short by bullying. In fact, he dropped out after earning only the Tenderfoot rank and the Engineering merit badge.
Despite that mixed experience, he knew the difference Scouting could make, having watched close friends become Eagle Scouts. So when his first son was old enough to become a Tiger, the family signed up. When Pack 4’s existing leaders quit en masse that week, Aragon became Tiger den leader, Cubmaster and basically everything but committee chair (a job a pack mom took on). A decade later, he works hard to ensure new Scouts and parents don’t have to face the challenges he did.
What did the former leaders of Pack 4 leave you with?
Not much. The pack had only been around for six or seven months. We had no pack flag, no Pinewood Derby track, literally nothing but $100. I had to start from square one, pretty much. I ended up starting with three boys. By Christmas, I had four.
How did you grow?
They call it the brick-by-brick model. We started with a Tiger den. The next year, there was a Wolf den. The first two or three years, we did the Pinewood Derby race with another pack. It wasn’t until our third or fourth year that we were able to sell enough popcorn and partner with Kohl’s department store to buy our aluminum track. Those things ain’t cheap!
Did parents pitch in?
Yes. The first two or three years, even though we struggled a lot, it was the easiest to get the parents to do things because we all had a common goal. When you’re building up something great and everybody knows all their efforts are going to be rewarded by something big, then they’re more motivated to sell popcorn or sell camp cards or do this or do that. The biggest backbone of this thing is my wife, Charity. She’s been treasurer and popcorn kernel for years.
You’re a big believer in the outdoor program. Does that help with retention?
I have a philosophy about Cub Scouts. There are two telltale signs when you know a boy’s going to stay or leave. One is camp: If that boy goes to camp, you have him hooked for the next six months. The other marker is Pinewood Derby six months later. If he doesn’t want to do Pinewood Derby, he could still stay in, but it’s harder. To me, those are the two markers every year as to the real health of the pack.
You also helped start Troop 4. What was that like?
It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. My friend Ray Odegaard, who had been with me in the pack, heard the American Legion really wanted to start a troop. They helped with a lot of resources and gave us a room right away. A Venturing crew that had unfortunately folded donated its old tents, old camp box and a lot of stuff. Ray got other donations of everything from a refrigerator to a filing cabinet.
Why did you start a new troop?
It can be hard for Scouts to have leadership opportunities when you have eight or nine boys in a patrol and they all want to advance at the same time. Also, they all have different ideas of what they want to get out of the program.
Why stick with Scouting after a fairly rough start?
When I was a younger adult, I saw that the police were looking for a wanted fugitive, and it happened to be a boy I went to school with. That really hit me hard. Why did he make such bad decisions? Why didn’t I? No. 1 was my church — being in youth group, being confirmed Catholic. The other big thing was Scouting.
Fact Sheet: David Aragon
Years as a Scout Volunteer: 11
Current City: Greeley, Colo.
Current Positions: Committee chair, Pack and Troop 4; associate Advisor, Crew 111; assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 1; unit commissioner, Longs Peak Council; camp commissioner, Ben Delatour Scout Ranch; member, Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Committee on Scouting
Day Job: Assistant manager, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
Most Satisfying Moment in Scouting: Seeing his son Ethan (the oldest of three) become an Eagle Scout. “Every two or three years, he was like, ‘I want to quit,’ so it was definitely a proud moment for him to get to Eagle.”
Favorite Camp and Why: Camp Buffalo Bill, Park County, Wyo. “Delicious food, a fun aquatics program, and the unofficial mayor of Cody singing songs and telling Old West tales.”