Unsung Heroes: Mr. Pena

Andrew Wang

The Boy Scouts of America is often categorized as a program full of knots, camping, fire building, and any other outdoorsy activities people think of. However, it is so much more than that. It’s more of a trail rather than a program. It’s a trail towards manhood. And like all trails, everyone needs a place to start and more importantly some guides. But, who are these guides? These guides are the adult leaders who watch boys grow into men and leaders who set an example of what young boys aspire to become. More specifically in Arcadia, California’s Troop 111, these adults are leaders that go above and beyond what is required of them to make sure each boy reaches the ultimate goal of Eagle Scout, the highest rank a boy scout can achieve. However in Troop 111, there is someone who often works behind-the-scenes making sure the troop operates at maximum efficiency and refuses to be praised for it. One may even say this person works as an unsung hero in the troop. This person is Mr. Henry Pena.

I met Mr. Pena six years ago and he has been one of the kindest, most dedicated, and perseverant people I have ever met. He works tirelessly to ensure the success of all scouts and even designed special plans for some of the troop’s scouts who need just a little more help than others. Mr. Pena exemplifies what it means to be a leader. Mr. Pena’s exact job in the troop is what we call the merit badge counselor. As merit badge counselor, Mr. Pena is required to work long hours while working out how to host certain merit badges and find trained leaders that can teach these merit badges to the boys. Despite all the work he does, he prefers to stay in the shadows and refuses to accept gifts of praise. His humbleness is the most admirable trait he possesses. Mr. Pena works tirelessly whilst juggling his duties as merit badge counselor and his duties at his day job. All of this is accomplished without a single complaint. None. At. All.

One day I eventually asked, “Why do you do what you do?” After a small pause, Mr. Pena simply chuckled and responded with a quick, “ I don’t know, Andrew,” followed by his signature shrug. Mr. Pena probably doesn’t remember this encounter, but it’s a moment I will never forget. It showed me the unconditional love Mr. Pena possessed for the troop and how he was willing to invest significant time and effort without even being able to explain to himself why he does it. But deep down inside, although he may hide it with his humble demeanor, I believe Mr. Pena truly does know why he does so much for the troop. I believe that he does it because he loves the troop and he loves helping others because to him that is the greatest gift anyone could give him. Of course, he would never directly tell me, even if I asked him, but his actions speak louder than words ever could. His relentless dedication to the program and his frequent check ups on individual scout progress shows how he loves helping scouts grow. More importantly, he loves helping the boys of Troop 111 mature into men.

Now this year there are rumors that Mr. Pena will be retiring from his position as a Merit Badge Counselor, and as a leader altogether, for Troop 111, and whether that is true or false remains to be seen. But after almost a decade of serving as the Troop’s Merit Badge Counselor, it is safe to say that Mr. Pena is truly an unsung hero.