Chief Chat – March 2018

Dear Scouts, Leaders and Supporters,

This month, I'd like to encourage you to get adventurous.

When Baden-Powell first took a small group of young people to Brownsea Island, he was delivering one of the first outdoors residential experiences for Scouts. Instinctively, he knew that outdoors adventures would bring out the best in them, giving them opportunities to develop skills and confidence.

Today, we still offer Scouts across NSW simply amazing adventures. We use a tried and trusted formula to create amazing and memorable experiences that young people never forget.

The range of activities in Scouts is the biggest in Australia, from bushcraft to videography, from abseiling to zoology. This month across NSW we have Scouts caving in Bungonia, hiking the pipeline canyon in Newnes, canoeing in Narrandera and who knows what will happen at the Venturers' Dragon Skin in the aptly named Vulcan State Forest.

I am looking forward to attending this amazing event to talk with Venturers, Rovers and Leaders from every region across Scouts NSW, and to listen to you.

As with everything in Scouting, youth lead and adults support when it comes to activities and events.

So this month, as we're an eligible provider of the Active Kids Rebate Program in NSW, and as the new Youth Program launches its 'Adventure begins' resources, I'd like you to help give even more young people the chance to benefit from our adventures, having fun and making new friends.

And naturally, our founder has the final word on the topic of adventure: "Happiness does not come to those who sit and wait."

Yours in adventure!

Neville Tomkins
Neville Tomkins OAM JP
Chief Commissioner

Young People making their own Adventures

If you read just one thing about ‘The Adventure Begins’ Program this month, I encourage you to understand the role of Section Councils.

Even if you’re not one of our pilot Groups, you can still start working towards this approach by introducing Section Councils, giving young people of every age an opportunity to help plan, do and review.

Many Groups already involve young people in decision-making, with adults and youth working in partnership to develop and run an active program that they can all individually contribute to, and enjoy.

The Scout program is evolving into more of a continuous journey for young people, with each Section representing another adventure. This helps create a smooth transition from one Section to the next. It’s therefore helpful to think about Section Councils for Joey Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts. Section Councils help give young people of every age an opportunity to learn how to manage their own adventures and Sections while being guided by adults.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all aspects of running a Pack or Troop are being delegated to young people. There are still important roles for Group Support Committees and Councils to manage resources such as funds, property or equipment, and to oversee adult training and recruitment.

Most Scout Sections already have active Councils at Patrol and Troop level, and Scout Leaders are encouraged to keep their youth members involved in planning out the Term and annual programs.

For Joey Scouts and Cub Scouts, naturally there will still be plenty of guidance required by adults, but even Joeys are able to help develop themes, ideas, activities and games. In the Cub Scout Section, the aim is to help them feel as if it’s their program, rather than one assigned to them by a Leader. This might involve encouraging the Cub Scout Section Council to agree what adventures they want to go on, talk about what behaviours they think are important to foster, or have an open conversation about how well the Sixers and Seconds are performing with their Leaders.

In all Groups, the Section Council should take place at least once a term, so that all members feel engaged with the creation and implementation of the activities.

And don’t forget that holding Councils outdoors can create more inspirational ideas than inside!

Adventure Begins Resources

Young adventurous achievers

The Queen’s Scout Award is the highest award in the Venturer Scout section. To achieve this award a Venturer must be able to set an ambitious goal; plan and organise others to help achieve the goal, while demonstrating a determination and resilience to overcome difficulties and complete the task.

The Baden-Powell Scout Award is the highest and most prestigious award that a Youth Member in Scouting may achieve. It is based on the Educational Objectives of Scouting (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Character, Emotional and Spiritual Development) and it challenges individuals to achieve their personal best and grow as a person, while living up to the Scouting ideals.

Congratulations to the 45 Queens’ Scouts and 4 Baden-Powell Awardees who were presented their awards on Saturday 3rd March by His Excellency General The Honorable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd) Governor and Chief Scout of New South Wales at Government House.

QSA BPSA Presentation March 2018

It’s always a celebration when Venturers and Rovers achieve these awards. Last month, Aidan Bath from 1st Kellyville and Marni Collier from Castle Hill were acknowledged at a special ceremony. Aidan led a cycling expedition to the Murray River in Victoria, went white water kayaking in New Zealand, managed the base design and coordinated his region’s Jamborette, and has been his Unit’s Chairman, treasurer and secretary. One of his best mates, Marni, is a youth helper in her local Cub pack, an aged care assistant, participates in the Cumberland gangshow, is a proficient canoeist, ran a bushwalking expedition in Kuring-gai Chase and has also been her Unit Chair and Vice-Chair.

QSA Kellyville and Castle Hill

Some amazing achievements were also in display at a triple Queen’s Scout Award celebration at 1st South Penrith for Cameron Letta, Eva Cole and Cooper Vanderjagt. It was the first time GWSR has seen a triple QSA celebration since the late eighties. A warm congratulations to all!

All eyes on the Australian Scout Medallions

Not to be outdone, the Scouts section also held a special celebration for thirty of its Australian Scouting Medallion award winners on 11th March. It was a privilege to meet such outstanding young people. They had all thoroughly enjoyed their Adventurer level expeditions, many of which involved hiking 30km or camping in challenging conditions, without an adult in sight! They make lasting memories on these adventures, and adult volunteers often notice a marked lift in their maturity levels after one of these experiences.

ASM Luna Park March 2018

Very, very young achievers

One of the youngest members of our Scouting family also has one of the biggest hearts. Eight year old Cayla O'Brien from Camden South was recently recognised on the Today show for her incredible generosity.

Cayla was determined to make a contribution and help the homeless in her local community. She encouraged a community drive to collect blankets, food, clothes and toiletries to donate to the Shining Stars Foundation. She created some marketing materials to display at her local school – the Camden South Public School – and was able to collect a large amount of goods to donate. And she was delighted to achieve her Joey Scout Promise Award as recognition of her efforts. On behalf of Scouts NSW, I wrote to Cayla to say how proud we all were of her.

Cayla O'Brien

How much adventure can you take?

Last year, a small contingent from 1st Murrumbateman Scout Group took on the mighty Murray River, participating in the Massive Murray Paddle. Not for the faint-hearted, this event covers 404 kilometres over 5 days, in which paddlers travel along the Murray from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill.

In an extraordinary feat, the Venturers took turns to complete the Paddle, helping raise funds to assist local community programs. Although this year’s event isn’t taking place till November, if you’re interested in participating, you’re encouraged to get in touch with the Murrumbateman Scout Group and join their crew. You’ll gain an insight into a beautiful part of the country and for Venturers, there are two examiners available to help you obtain your canoe/kayak qualification.

Murrumbateman Murray Paddle

Chief Commissioner’s Council

On Saturday 17 March, all Region Commissioners, Deputy Chief Commissioners and State Office Managers met at Pennant Hills to discuss how we can best work together to address our challenges, and to capitalise on the wonderful opportunities we have ahead of us. We were also briefed on a range of issues, including Work Health and Safety, our property strategy, CareMonkey and the Organisation and Information Manual rewrite.

It was a most productive meeting.

The following day, we held the Region Commissioners’ Forum to discuss a number of critical issues.

On Saturday night, some 87 guests enjoyed the Chief Commissioner’s Council gala dinner. One of the many highlights was to celebrate five of our Commissioners, Leaders and Supporters being recently recognised with the Order of Australia Award. They were:

  • Frank Barr OAM
  • Peter Nickl OAM
  • Pip Lovely OAM
  • Colleen Godsell AM
  • Bob Baker AM


L to R: Peter Nickl OAM, Frank Barr OAM; Pip Lovely OAM, Collen Godsell AM, Neville Tomkins OAM and Bob Baker AM

We were delighted to see not only three generations of the Nickl family join us for this special occasion, but also three generations of Queen’s Scouts – Peter Nickl OAM, Trevor Nickl and Philip Nickl.

Three Generations of QSAs

L to R: Philip Nickl, Trevor Nickl, Neville Tomkins OAM, Peter Nickl OAM

Queen’s Scout Scholarships were presented to Rachel Ewing and Angus Mackay, to assist them to pursue their studies, and the Contingent Leader Certificate was presented to Ian Hale for his successful leadership of our Scouts NSW Contingent to the National Venture last January in Queensland.

Queen's Scout Scholarship Awardees

Long service awards were presented on the night to Nicholas Heath (45 years) and Malcolm Wilson (35 years), with the Chief Commissioner’s Certificate of Appreciation presented to Brian Tye, who recently retired after 6 years as the Chair of the Scouts NSW Trust Management Committee.

Our New Ambassador for Scouts NSW

I am delighted that Andrew Lock OAM, one of the world’s most successful mountaineers, has accepted the role of Ambassador for Scouts NSW!

Andrew Lock Investiture

Andrew is also Australia’s most accomplished high altitude mountaineer, having climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000 metre, “death zone” mountains. He has also led expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, and every continent on earth.

Andrew Lock

Out and About

I continue to spend considerable time travelling the length and breadth of our great State to attend as many youth events and Region meetings as I can. If you know I am attending one of your events, I hope we can find time to talk. I love hearing your views on the range of issues, especially your thoughts as to what we can best do to grow membership. And of course, it’s always great to hear about your amazing adventures!


All suspicions, concerns or allegations about criminal matters or child protection matters should be reported directly to the Chief Commissioner, the Deputy Chief Commissioner (Youth Safety, Compliance and Support), the General Manager or the Child Protection Officer at the NSW State Office on:
Tel: 02 9735 9000 or via

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If a young person is in imminent danger, the matter should be reported directly and immediately to NSW Police on 131444.

Where a report is made to the police, you should also subsequently notify the NSW State Office.

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