SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan Could Become The Scouting Hub for Southern Southeast
by Marie L. Monyak


January 13, 2006
Friday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - This week's speaker at the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon was Amy Russell, an engaging young woman who has recently taken over the position of District Executive for the newly formed Scouting Council. The Council will serve Southern Southeast Alaska and will be headquartered in Ketchikan.


Amy Russell, District Executive, and Rob Skinner, District Chairman, of the newly formed Scouting Council which is headquartered in Ketchikan.
Photo by Marie L. Monyak

Russell is an energetic wife and mother of two toddlers, who possesses a passion for outdoor adventure. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in forestry she was employed by the Forest Service in Thorne Bay in the early 1990's. Russell went on to earn her Master's degree in Wildlife Science. Just one of her more daring adventures was caving on Dall Island where she assisted in the mapping of many of the caves.

After taking time off to begin a family, Russell became involved with the Scouts. "I truly believe that Scouting is the greatest youth organization in the world," Russell proudly stated, "the reason for my belief is that it (scouting) uses the platform of outdoor adventure to build character." "There are clear levels of advancement in a culture, and at a time, when the transition from youth to adulthood is not often well defined."

There are two facets of scouting that Russell has strong feelings about and wanted to stress to the audience. They are the background checks performed on all adult leaders and the firearms program which is an excellent opportunity for young people to acquire their own personal responsibility for firearms.

The age/grade requirement for Cub Scouts is the First through Fifth grades with Boy Scouts beginning in Sixth grade and going through age 18. The curriculum that most excites Russell is the Venturing program which is, as Russell stated, "Co-educational, within a 14 to 20 year age group, which now allows young girls the same opportunity to develop character and confidence through high adventure outdoor activities." Regardless of the program, Russell is quick to point out that when boys and girls acquire a taste for outdoor adventure at a young age, it can only serve to build character throughout their lifetime.

As of the First of January, the Southeast Council in Juneau merged with the Western Council in Anchorage, allowing for the formation of a Southern Southeast Council in Ketchikan that will serve all the outlying areas to include Hyder, Wrangell, Petersburg, Metlakatla and Prince of Wales Island.

This new Southern Southeast Council has yet to be named but it's the achieved goal that many volunteers have worked long and hard for. In addition to the formation of this new council, Scouting has provided for one full-time paid position of District Executive which Russell now holds. The positions of District Chairman and District Commissioner are held by Rob Skinner and John Inman respectively. Adding to this investment, the Council is sending adult leaders to receive training.

Russell, appealing to those present stated, "I would like to inspire businesses and owners to find their niche in assisting scouting in the Ketchikan area. If everyone did just one thing to serve scouting, not only will it make a difference, but it will benefit the community." As examples, Russell suggested that a hotel could donate the use of their conference room, a boat or tour operator could volunteer to take kids to camp, a fly-fishing shop could teach casting and how to tie a fly and Fish and Game Officers could instruct how to skin a bear.

As the floor was opened for questions, Russell was asked if there would ever be a Scout camp easily accessible to our area or if we would continue to send our children to Juneau. "By creating a district here, we have the ability to become the scouting hub for all of Southern Southeast and it would be much more affordable if we had a camp here," Russell stated in agreement. Using this opportunity Russell said, "The Scout Executive-CEO of the Alaska Council has issued a challenge to Ketchikan. If you find (acquire) the land, we will build a camp." Since all of the camps in the State have originated from donated land this new council will be soliciting for an area to build on.

Russell's final parting words were, "Find the land and we'll build a camp."

The Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce's next luncheon will be held at the VFW on Wednesday, January 18, 2006, beginning at noon. The guest speaker will be Bobbie McCreary from Newtown District Historical Neighborhood.

Also coming up is the Chamber's 39th Annual Awards Banquet which will take place at the Ted Ferry Civic Center on Saturday, January 14th. The Chamber has requested that guests purchase their tickets in advance if possible. Dinner will be provided by Annabelle's with a choice of Prime Rib or Chicken Florentine. The social hour will begin at 6:00 PM, dinner at 7:00 PM and presentation of awards at 8:00 PM. The keynote speaker will be Governor Frank Murkowski. For reservations or ticket information, please call the Chamber at 225-3184.

Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Marie at

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