Leaders Honored by Verdugo Hills Council of Boy Scouts of America

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Boy Scouts Verdugo Hills Council Scout Executive Mark Kraus, from left, with incoming council President Sam Engel Jr. and incoming Commissioner Andrew Turner. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)

Four adult leaders were honored by the Verdugo Hills Council of Boy Scouts of America for giving numerous hours to youth in the community.

Boy Scouts Verdugo Hills Council Scout Executive Mark Kraus, from left, with incoming council President Sam Engel Jr. and incoming Commissioner Andrew Turner. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)
Boy Scouts Verdugo Hills Council Scout Executive Mark Kraus, from left, with incoming council President Sam Engel Jr. and incoming Commissioner Andrew Turner. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)

Sam Engel Jr., who grew up in Burbank, was installed as president of the local council on Jan. 21 at Anoush in Glendale. He will chair the council’s executive board and oversee the nonprofit corporation and the council’s scouting program. The council serves the areas of Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta and parts of Los Angeles.

He has spent a lifetime involved in the council — first as a Boy Scout and later as a council officer. He was a Cub Scout in Pack 4 and transitioned to Burbank Troop 4, which later became 204. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout by building trails in Wildwood Canyon.

A graduate of San Jose State University, he continued his love of nature working for more than 20 years for the city of Glendale as the Neighborhood Services Administrator overseeing the city’s neighborhood improvements programs.

He introduced programs that reduced neighborhood graffiti by more than 90%, decreased blight caused by public dumping and worked to develop the three Monterey Community Gardens as well as coordinating organizations to independently operate them.

As an adult, Engel continued to be involved with Scouting. He was on the staff at Camp Emerald Bay on Catalina for four summers. He has been commissioner and chairman for the district now called Iron Eyes Cody District. He has also served on the local council’s executive board for 12 years. He and his wife, Kathryn, have co-chaired the council’s major fundraiser — The Big Strike Auction.

The local council is smaller than the Los Angeles Council, but holds it own, he said.

“We are small enough to do phenomenal service but big enough to do the work of a larger council.”

Engel’s personal goals for his term are to re-establish scouting in the elementary schools and rebuild Exploring, Career Interest Exploring and Venture scouting groups on the middle and high school levels. Venture scouting is for ages 14 to 17; Exploring and Career Interest Exploring are for ages up to 21. These three groups are for boys and girls.

 Silver Beaver Award recipients are, from left, Meroujan Kitsinian, Jacqueline Natividad and Cory Nakanishi. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)
Silver Beaver Award recipients are, from left, Meroujan Kitsinian, Jacqueline Natividad and Cory Nakanishi. (Photo By Joyce Rudolph)

In addition to the installation, the council honored its three Silver Beaver Award recipients, Cory Nakanishi, Meroujan Kitsinian and Jacqueline Natividad. This award is given to recipients by their peers in scouting for their distinguished service to youth. It is the highest honor that can be bestowed on an adult member of the scouting program.

Nakanishi is assistant scoutmaster of Troop 209 in Burbank, in which he and his wife, Bonny, are involved. They have two boys, Ryan is an Eagle Scout and troop assistant scoutmaster, and Daniel is a life scout and Order of the Arrow representative.

Nakanishi started in scouting in 1967 as a Cub Scout in El Sereno. He earned his Arrow of Light as a Webelo and then moved to Troop 711. He left scouting in 16 but returned in 2001 when his son, Ryan, joined the newly formed Pack 212. Nakanishi became cubmaster and served in many leadership capacities. He received the District Award of Merit in 2008 and the Founder’s Recognition Award in 2011.

He continued to be active in the pack and Troop 210 when Ryan bridged in 2006. In addition to numerous camp leadership positions, Nakanishi has been a merit badge counselor since 2006 and was district commissioner for 2 1/2 years. He served on the staff for the 2010 Council Centennial Jamboree and 2010 National Jamboree. He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow in Spe-Le-Yai Lodge.

Kitsinian became a Cub Scout in the Homenetmen chapter in Beirut Lebanon at age 8. His family came to the United States when he was 10 and he joined the Homenetmen Azadamard Chapter in Pasadena where he continued as a Scout until he was 21. Kitsinian married Diana Adamian and they have two boys, Sako and Hratch. Sako joined the Homenetmen Azadamard Chapter when he was 8 and his father got involved in scouting again.

When the family moved to Burbank in 2009, Kitsinian joined the Boy Scouts of America, Verdugo Hills Council, and became a den leader for Pack 212. Sako bridged into Troop 201 and his father is now assistant scoutmaster of the troop. Hratch is a Cub Scout in Pack 201. Kitsinian is on the council’s executive board, training committee and Wood Badge Tri Council staff. He is chairman of the Homenetmen Western Regional Scout Committee and chairman of the Iron Eyes Cody District.

Natividad is a member of the Verdugo Hills Council High Adventure Team and Venture Crew 220. She is a nurse with the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. She and her husband, Mark Lawrence, have a son Nicholas and she is his full-time caregiver, teacher, tutor, coach and friend.

Throughout her participation in Boy Scouts she helps ensure the safety of youth and adult participants and promotes outstanding programs. She has logged more than 650 miles of hiking with about 15,000 feet of elevation gain as well as 250 days of overnight camping and a few more canoeing and biking miles. She has contributed her knowledge to youth, peers and other adults on a broad range of subjects through the Verdugo Hills Council, Greater Los Angeles Area Council, San Gabriel Valley Council and Ventura County Council.