Shanna Richardson became the chief executive of the Quapaw Area Council on Jan. 16. She is the first female CEO of the council, which covers 39 counties in Arkansas.
Richardson began her scouting career in 2001 as a scoutreach paraprofessional at the Trapper Trails Council in Ogden, Utah. She moved on to become a district executive at the Utah National Parks Council in Provo, a field director in the Central Florida Council in Orlando, and the assistant Scout executive at the Gulf Stream Council in Palm Beach, Florida.
Richardson is married and has three daughters, all of whom are Scouts — two First Class Scouts and one Bear.
How receptive have Arkansas youth and their parents been to co-ed scouting?
Scouting has always been a family-based program; adding girls has just continued that tradition. In the Cub Scout program (ages 5-10), we have always encouraged the entire family to be involved. Camping and outdoor activities were always family-based. The girls regularly camped with their siblings, built their own derby cars and participated in the regularly scheduled den meetings. All we did was say, “Give them the darn patch already. They earned it.” In the Scouts BSA program the girls and boys participate in separate troops. Our program is high adventure and leadership-based. We believe we provide the best character development and outdoor education available to all youth. Arkansas youth and families have been very receptive to being able to participate as a family unit.
What will you focus on as CEO?
My focus as the CEO is to provide an unparalleled program for more youth. All youth and families deserve to connect with the outdoors and share in the adventure. With that mission in mind the Quapaw Area Council is dedicated to taking the program to the youth that traditionally would not have access.
How and why did you first become involved with the organization?
I have always had an affinity for outdoor adventure, so I was naturally drawn to the Boy Scouts of America’s values-based outdoor programs. We are well known for teaching youth to build fires, survive outdoors and have a love for adventure, but we also teach leadership, ethical decision-making, career exploration and community involvement. Our motto is “Be Prepared” for a reason: We want our youth to be prepared for life. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
Why is scouting relevant today?
Scouting isn’t only relevant today. It’s an incredibly effective way for the future generations of the world to teach and instill positive moral and character attributes while at the same time delivering life-changing experiences. Scouting builds a foundation for the rest of a child’s life. Scouting provides a safe environment for youth to seek adventure, to fail and learn, to connect with the outdoors, and to connect with positive adult role models all while following the Scout Oath and Law. The Scout Oath:
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” And the Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”