Troop 171 History

From Bob Davies 


Sam Kipp and Warren Keys members of a Young Men’s group at First Presbyterian Church, put their heads together and decide that First Pres should sponsor a Scout Troop.  Sam and Warren contact the Scout District Headquarters in Greeley, apply for a Troop charter, and are given the go ahead to establish the troop. 


Cast of Characters: 

The Setting:

            First Presbyterian Church, which in 1952 had two pastors: its Head Pastor and its University Pastor.  This was two or three years before the church had its first “Youth Program” Minister of Christian Education. 

The Men Bring the Boys Together:

            At the very first meeting, six of us -- myself and five of my friends, met Scoutmaster Sam Kipp and with Warren Keys, who at that time stood beside Sam Kipp as Assistant Scoutmaster.  I believe that all those in attendance at the first meeting were from the First Pres Sunday School.

            At the second troop meeting we grew in size to eight Scouts.  If I am correct, the seventh Scout was a Methodist, but a very close friend of mine from Mapleton’s Cub Pack.  And the eighth Scout was a stranger, coming from Washington school.  At this meeting, we were introduced to the game of Steal the Bacon. 

            By the third week, the troop had expanded to twelve Scouts.  In my classroom at Mapleton, it was a major event if I had more than one new classmate enrolled in a year!  But now, I was suddenly faced with the challenge of making friends with fellows from Mapleton’s archrival, Puni-Uni (AKA University Hill Elementary School).  What’s more, I was also faced with meeting a fellow who was already a 7th grader -- at Uni Hill Jr. High.  At this third meeting of the troop, we also met an additional adult, Ray Jones, who would briefly serve as a second Assistant Scoutmaster.  Toward the end of this meeting Ray introduced us to a brand new concept, the use of semaphore flags to send messages.  I was so excited about this new idea that Warren let me take home two pairs of the flags. 

It is here that Dad came into the picture.  Scouting is an ideal arena for building strong father-son relationships.  For me, my new experiences in Troop 171 provided an exceptionally poignant moment with my father.  On the Sunday after the troop’s third meeting, my Dad, Mother, and little sister went up Sunshine Canyon (the road to Gold Hill) for a picnic.  Dad used this occasion to have me send him a message by placing semaphore flags in the newly learned positions for the letters “a” and “b”. 

            Monday, June 9, was another troop meeting, and Ray Jones taught the Scouts the semaphore flag positions for the letters “c” and “d”.  But I would not have the opportunity to share these signals with my father, for suddenly, on the evening of Tuesday, June 10, my father died.  By inspiring the picnic with Dad, Scouting had provided me with a life-shaping memory.

            In reviewing the history of Troop 171, Dad’s death also had an impact on Scoutmaster Warren Keys.  Dad was a professor in CU’s School of Business, and one of his students was none other than Scoutmaster Warren Keys.   Indeed, at the time of Dad’s death, he was in the midst of preparing Warren’s final exam.

             So it was only appropriate that now, as I was suddenly a “father-less” boy, my Scoutmaster was ready to step in to help take my father’s place.  Troop 171 became as a second family for me, and the other Scouts became as brothers. 

            The only unquestionable date in this chronology is the day of Dad’s death.  The date of the Troop 171’s charter may be the troop’s official birth date.  But for this youngster, the troop was born on the date of that first meeting with Sam Kipp and Warren Keys.  If the various events recounted above are correct, that birth date would have been May 19, 1952.

             The troop’s first camping trip, an overnighter near Eldora, was a milestone in the life of the infant troop.  This experience was not confined by the walls of the troop’s third floor meeting room.  It was in the  great out of doors!  Unlike our night-time troop meetings, this event extended from afternoon, through evening, and then into the bright sunlight of day. 

             The morning hours were notable for mischief and discovery.  One of my friends, for example, dropped his pocketknife into the little brook that flowed through the campground.  He stumbled and slipped on the brook’s well-rounded pebbles.  I was tempted to give him a shove.  But as I watched his dramatic knife recovering efforts, my attention was more strongly drawn to the purity of the brook’s water.  I was being awakened to the beauty of nature.

            At breakfast, the boys would be boys!  We had an eating competition--who could eat the most fried eggs.  Most of the troop easily handled 3 or 4, or even 5.  But this was before the days of cholesterol concerns, and the scoutmaster who was frying the eggs allowed me to devour 8 full eggs!

            For me, however, the most memorable event of this trip was the care and compassion of the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster.  Larry McKinnis was a lot older than I.  He was a 15- or 16-year old Explorer Scout, and had reached the rank of Life Scout.  But rank and age were not the issue in my first acquaintance with Larry.  Our campground was just 3/4 mile away from the parking lot.  Most of the scouts had no problem carrying their compact, relatively light weight sleeping bags.  But my mother had provided me with an ancient sleeping bag that was both bulky and heavy.  When rolled up this canvas and rubber sleeping bag was a cylinder 36” wide and probably 16” in diameter.  Carry this sleeping bag was even more of a challenge; since I was probably the troop’s least physically fit.  So as I struggled, I was greatly relieved when Larry compassionately offered to carry my burden. 

            This act of kindness, as small as it may have seemed at the moment, had a lasting effect in shaping the values by which I would try to live.  Needless to say, my admiration of Larry was reinforced when, a month or two later, Larry had an Eagle Court of Honor!  And my appreciation of his strong values became even greater when, some years later, Larry became a doctor, carrying his compassion into medicine. 

            Why this discussion of this older scout helping a younger scout?  Troops are born, and the Scouting tradition is carried from generation to generation.  But the spirit of Scouting is also transferred from Explorer Scout, to Boy Scout, to Cub Scout.  So by the time September 1952 rolled around, Larry’s kindness to me inspired me to be a Den Chief.  Larry, as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, had assisted the Scoutmasters.  Now, in turn, it was my duty and privilege to help a Den Mother lead a den of Cub Scouts.  A camping trip during the infancy months of Troop 171 had led to two years of joyful assistance to Pack 76.  May Scouting continue on for many years to come.