The secret of their success: How these El Paso units serve their Hispanic community

Photo courtesy of Juan and Angelica Urbina

Juan and Angelica Urbina are both first-generation Americans — proud of their country, and proud of their heritage. They live in the Cielo Vista area of El Paso, Texas, where they are surrounded by families of similar backgrounds.

When the couple began looking for extracurricular activities for their three children, the choice was easy.

“It’s about passing on our values and being good citizens,” Juan said. “There just aren’t many organizations like that.”

The only problem? There were no Scouting units in their neighborhood. So, they started their own: Pack 44, with boys and girls. Juan served as Cubmaster.

And when the Urbina’s oldest child aged out of Cub Scouts, they started two Scouts BSA troops: 44B and 44G.

Now, Juan is Scoutmaster of Troop 44B. Angelica is Scoutmaster of Troop 44G. They’ve turned Pack 44 over to Cubmaster Nohemi Salas and assistant Cubmaster Vanessa Monsisvais.

They say Scouting has been perfect not just for their family, but for all the families in their community.

“I think an organization like the BSA is an ideal place for our families because it helps establish a foundation of values that have great worth to us,” Angelica says. “It truly takes a village to raise our kids. I cannot think of a better village to surround our youth.”

Scouts prepare their next meal at a recent campout. Photo courtesy of Juan and Angelica Urbina

Growing fast

Juan remembers his first ever Cub Scout meeting as an adult leader. It was 2017, and they had about 20 families. He was never a Scout as a kid growing up in Chicago, but he knew he had found a new home.

“I remember seeing neighborhood friends in their Scout uniforms, but I never had the chance to do it myself,” he says.

After serving 14 years in the U.S. Army, Juan moved to El Paso, where he met Angelica.

“As soon as my son was old enough, I threw him into Scouts,” he says.

Within just a few months, their brand-new pack grew to around 60 families.

The Urbinas say the pack just kind of recruited itself.

“So many people saw what we were doing, and they wanted to do that, too,” Juan says. “It just took off.”

The same went for the parents.

“We didn’t really recruit them,” he says. “They just came along.”

“At first, I took my son because he wanted to be a Scout,” says Mayra Zamora, father of Star Scout Jonathan Zamora. “But we’ve grown into a big family, and it’s nice to see our neighbors and family friends from the schools our children attend.

“We take care of each other.”

Scouts participate in a flag ceremony at a recent meeting. Photo courtesy of Juan and Angelica Urbina

Growing up in Scouting

When Juliette Salcido was younger, her mom used to take her to get free books for an organization that collects used books. Now, as a member of Troop 44G, Juliette is the one gathering and donating books to that same organization.

“What I like most about being a Scout is that I’ve been able to help the community,” she says.

Juliette’s sister, Katherine, is also a member of the troop. Their brother is a member of a nearby Scouts BSA troop for boys.

“I joined because I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” Katherine says. “He always got to try and learn new things and in general he is a better person because of Scouting.

“He’s a better citizen and also a better brother.”

In 1953, a U.S. Air Force B-36 bomber crashed in Franklin Mountains in El Paso. The plane was struggling to land in Biggs Airfield due to a blizzard. Nine lives were lost.

“There are still pieces of that plane on the mountain,” Juan says. “So we took the Scouts up there. They were in amazement that this really did happen.

“If it wasn’t for Scouts, a lot of these kids wouldn’t get to see that kind of stuff.”

Angelica and Juan Urbina

Says Jonathan Zamora, son of Mayra: “I get the chance to do new things that I have never done before and also learn new things.”

Like a lot of units across the country, the memberships of Pack 44 and Troop 44B and 44G have dipped in recent years, due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic. But Angelica is more optimistic than ever that Scouting is right for her family and community.

“Scouting not only reminds us of all these great values and makes it part of the curriculum and initiatives within each pack and troop,” she says, “but it also challenges our children to rise to the occasion and be good citizens.”

Share your “success” stories

We’re always on the lookout for Scouting success stories. Know any units or leaders who have gone above and beyond expectations? Email us and let us know! We might feature them in our next “secret of their success” story.

About Aaron Derr 289 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.