Scouting Ahead

Mar 312009
Authors: Bryan Schiele

His territory spans from the majority of the western United States all the way to Hawaii, Alaska and Japan. While tending to business across this hemisphere, people literally wait in line for an autograph and a picture. He is a celebrity in every sense of the word. Caring and humble, his actions prove he never passes up an opportunity to have a positive influence on someone.

Meet David Harrell, a junior at CSU and Eagle Scout who is the Western Regional Chief in the Order of the Arrow, a national honor society within the Boy Scouts of America. Harrell is one of just four regional chiefs in the entire country.

If the hierarchical organization of Boy Scouts was a fourteener, Harrell would need oxygen to breathe at such an elevation. Or maybe he could handle the extremes.

In summer 2005, as a member of the Order of the Arrow Service Core at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia, Harrell braved temperatures of up to 110 degrees to help provide first aid assistance to about 100 Boy Scouts stationed in the unexpected heat for four hours that day. Many boys were passing out and suffering from heat stroke, and there were more scouts than Army medical supports.

Harrell acted quickly with his team and the Army assistants.

Nobody died.

At the tender age of 20, his dedication to success and strong desire to lead and positively influence others are what many say make him one-of-a-kind.

Harrell joined Boy Scouts at the age of 11, after spending five years in Cub Scouts. It was then that he began following the Scout Law.

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

“The values and characteristics from scouting drive the other aspects of my life,” Harrell says, managing to be firm yet down-to-earth — the qualities that make him so likeable and easy to respect.

Always eager to lead and follow the examples set by those before him, it did not take much pushing from his parents for Harrell to get involved with scouting, he says.

Passion runs in his veins

Scouting is in Harrell’s blood.

His late father, Marc, was also an Eagle Scout and a member of Order of the Arrow. His mother, Gaylia, was involved with scouting as a den leader when Harrell was a Cub Scout.

Harrell’s father passed away when he was 11, just after he had crossed from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts.

His mother said Harrell and his father are very similar in regards to their love of scouting.

“He set a good example for me; I wanted to keep doing it,” Harrell says. “It’s something he wanted me to do.”

Harrell quickly began working his way up the ranks. His fellow scouts immediately took note of his excellent leadership ability, kindness and tremendous commitment to scouting.

Harrell was chosen by other scouts in his troop to be elected into the Order of the Arrow when he was 13, just two years after joining Boy Scouts and one rank below Eagle Scout.

Almost as quickly as he ascended through the ranks of Boy Scouts, Harrell pursued high leadership positions within the order.

In his seven years as a member of the order, Harrell has been elected to serve as Chapter Vice Chief, Lodge Vice Chief, Lodge Chief, Section Vice Chief, Section Chief and, finally, Western Regional Chief.

He is currently three months into his one-year term position as Regional Chief, the highest possible position attainable by a youth.

His responsibilities have never been greater. Harrell says there are about 40,000 order members in the western region that he leads.

“He isn’t just a leader,” says Allan Brown, Order of the Arrow member and close friend to Harrell. “He has the unique ability to lead leaders.”

Harrell is responsible for planning, organizing, and running programs such as induction ceremonies and any other Order of the Arrow events in his region. He also plays a major role in organizing the national event of emphasis for Order of the Arrow, which Harrell says will take place at Indiana University this summer and host over 7,000 people.

“His position is one of image and promotion and keeping things going,” Mike Bliss, a current adult adviser to Harrell said. “David is doing very well.”

But almost more important is Harrell’s role as a representative of Order of the Arrow and Boy Scouts.

Sink or swim

Harrell says that on average he travels about every other weekend to events all around the western region, giving keynote speeches and meeting younger scouts who aspire to hold high positions themselves one day.

“So far he is succeeding on all levels,” says Neil Gabriel, one of Harrell’s past advisers. “He is willing to work and serve and has a fantastic attitude.”

Harrell also sets a prime example for youth with his strong academic resume. He has earned 10 scholarships, including the CSU President’s Outstanding Scholar award, for a combination of his academics and service related work.

He has a 3.575 cumulative GPA as a Business major. He aspires to be a supply chain analyst and said he would “ultimately like to run for office and pursue a career in public service.”

Time management is crucial to Harrell’s success both in the Order of the Arrow and his school work.

“It’s basically sink or swim,” Harrell says. “You have to get better at managing your time because you have no choice.”

Although Harrell admits that his responsibilities do impact his social life at times, he says the people he has met through Boy Scouts and the Order of the Arrow has made it the most enjoyable.

Harrell’s family members are not as concerned with the number of badges and medals he has received over the years but with the person he has become.

“He has become a man of honor,” says Gaylia Harrell. “That’s what I’m most happy about as a parent.”

Staff writer Bryan Schiele can be reached at

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