Scouting in Southern Colorado commenced soon after William D. Boyce, a Chicago businessman who brought Scouting to the United States from England, established the new program. It was a mail order type of council, known as a second class council. There was not a local office and all Scouting items were ordered by mail from the National Office, located then in New York City.
The Pueblo area had Scouting in early 1914 with the formation of Troop 1. The Scoutmaster was Rev. Arthur W. Hall and the troop met at the Italian mission at the corner of Mesa and Elm streets.During the organization process, Troop 2 was organized at the First Methodist Church, located at 9th and Main Street with Homer C. Thompson as Scoutmaster and Don Morton as Assistant.
In about the same time-frame, the Trinidad / Las Animas County/Colorado Council was chartered in May, 1917. Troop 9 of Trinidad, Colorado, was chartered and Judge J. T. Torres became Scoutmaster. At about the same time, a troop at Jansen Colorado Public School was organized and Judge Torres was Scoutmaster of this troop also.
The Pueblo Council was the initial first class council in the area, chartered on March 3, 1920, with Oscar C. Alverson as Council Executive and Frank J. Burch as Council President. The total budget of the new council was $3,778 and notation was made of a troop at Canon City sponsored by the Lions Club. This indicates the Pueblo Council was extending into nearby cities.
The Arkansas Valley Area Council was reorganized in about 1923 as a first-class council and the “father” of activity was Dr. R. S. Johnston, Chief Surgeon, Santa Fe Hospital who received the Scouting “spirit” from Dr. Menninger of Topeka, Kansas. The council’s operating funds came mostly from Dr. Johnston, and he served many offices in the council as well as later in the Rocky Mountain Council.
May 17, 1927, the Spanish Peaks Council resulted from the combined mergers of the Las Animas County Council and the Arkansas Valley Council. The new council covered the counties of Otero, Bent, Prowers, Baca, Huerfano, Las Animas, and later, Costilla, Alamosa, Rio Grande, and Conejos. The council camp was located south of Monument Lake near Whiskey Creek and was named Camp San Isabel. J. F. “Buck” Burshears, founder of the Koshare Indian Dancers, remembers going to the camp with Troop 4, La Junta, supposedly as a Scout. Since there was no adult leadership, he became Scoutmaster in charge.
Early in 1929, Roland E. Stimson was called as Scout Executive to Trinidad. The council had maintained membership but had financial difficulties and was about $5,000 in debt. When Mr. Stimson arrived, there was no money in the bank to pay his salary, moving expenses, travel expenses, or office administration and he tendered his resignation, but the Executive Board would not accept it.
The Rocky Mountain Council was formed September 1, 1928 bringing the area of Pueblo County westward together and included the counties of Archuleta, Gunnison, Chaffee, Custer, Delta, Delores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Sagauache, San Miguel, San Juan, Fremont, Lake and Mineral and the southern half of Park. The council covered 43,000 square miles. Thomas J. Downen was President and Board Members included William V. Codding, H. E. French, John D. Price, Frank J. Burch, Grey H.
Holt, Evarts C. Fox, and Earl M. Kouns.
In 1932, the Spanish Peaks Council merged with the Rocky Mountain Council creating an area of 55,730 square miles (35 counties). Roland Stimson became field executive under William C. Souder but left after one year and Souder had to serve the entire area with only a secretary in the office which was located in room 4 of the Pueblo County Courthouse. In 1942, the westernmost counties withdrew and formed the present day Western Colorado Council.
The council territory has remained virtually the same since that time. Thomas Downen served the council from 1920 to 1958 in many positions. He willed $10,000 from his estate at the death of his wife, Eileen, in 1959. Funds from this estate were used in various ways such as the purchase of the San Isabel Scout Ranch, which opened in 1963. Programs at San Isabel Scout Ranch include aquatics, ecology, first-year camper, handicraft, mountain biking, outdoor skills, shooting sports, and a outpost camping program.
The High Adventure Whitewater program (River Assault Group), inaugurated on 1976, operated out of the Freeman back yard in Salida for the first few years; then, thanks to support from the Packard Foundation, property on a lease arrangement with Salida resulted in the Packard High Adventure Base. In 2007, the lease for the base was terminated and new property was acquired to continue the program. The new Rocky Mountain High Adventure Base (RMHAB) opened in 2008, thanks to the untiring efforts of Dave Taliaferro and Steve Best plus a host of hard working volunteers. RMHAB programs have expanded to include whitewater rafting, rock climbing, high altitude backpacking, mountain biking, and high lake fishing.
The present council office, the “Estes Scout Service Center”, is located at 411 South Pueblo Boulevard. The building and land were the result of a generous gift from Vernon Estes Jr. and are owned by the Rocky Mountain Council, Inc., with the land having been deeded to the council by the City of Pueblo in December 1995.