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Scouting in Queensland - A Journey

On 15th January 1908[1] the first of a six-part publication, issued fortnightly, was published in England. This now famous publication was Scouting for Boys and was written by Robert Stephenson Smythe Baden-Powell. This book was written by Baden-Powell to formalise his theories for training the boys of Britain. He had tried out on a group of twenty boys at an experimental camp on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset, from 25th July to 9th August 1907[2], and met with great success.

Almost immediately, boys throughout England began to form Patrols, and very soon after the publication of the booklets, Scouting began in Australia. Scouting came to Queensland in August 1908, when four young men started Patrols of Scouts. They were Charles Smethurst Snow  (Kangaroo Point), Lesleigh John Williams (Bowen Hills, later New Farm) (Photograph 6), Leonard Lovejoy (Ashgrove)Photographs 5, 7, 8), and Septimus Davies (Toowong)[3]. All men were involved in boy’s clubs or Sunday Schools at their local church, and the members of the first Patrols came from these groups. In the beginning, these four men operated their Patrols in isolation, but in 1909 came together to establish a State organisation.

 Scouting spread rapidly throughout Brisbane and the provincial towns and rural areas of Queensland. Some of the early Patrols were formed at Ithaca, Windsor, Nundah, Townsville, Boonah, Gympie and Nambour[4]. During this time, Chief  Scoutmaster Snow formed the “Chief Scoutmaster’s Own Patrol (C.S.O) (Photograph 1) which met at the home of the Charles S Snow, Shafston Avenue, Kangaroo Point[5]. On 20th July, 1910, a letter was sent by the Australian League of Boy Scouts, Queensland Section, to Boy Scout Headquarters, London, stating that “they are desirous of affiliating with the Home Headquarters”[6] The letter goes on to say that “the Council was formed in October 1909……so far as can be ascertained the Council have 45 Troops and 950 Scouts”[7]. On 2nd July, 1910 a letter was sent from  Boy Scout Headquarters, London to Septimus Davies stating “the Headquarters Council have great pleasure in affiliating your Council with the Home Headquarters. The names of the Council will be duly gazetted”[8]. The name of the movement in Queensland was changed to “League of Baden-Powell Scouts, Queensland Section”[9].

 On 13th September 1910, a formal constitution was adopted and printed. This provided regulations for the conduct of Scout Troops, uniform to be worn, qualifications of the Scoutmasters and such like matters. Charles S Snow was the first Chief Scoutmaster (now Commissioner). King George V arranged a prize of a silk Union Jack on which was the Royal Crown and the Scout Badge for the Scout Troop with no less than 24 members, who had the greatest number of King Scouts by 30th September 1911. This honour went to the 1st Gympie Troop, who had the most King Scouts of any Troop in Australia[10]. (Photographs 8, 10).

 “Divisions” and “Districts” made their appearance as early as 1910, but these were not formalized until the mid 1920s. Queensland adopted the “Group” system on 15th October, 1928 – sections and Leaders of a particular locale became a Group, however it took to the 1930s for this system to be implemented[11]. By 1960 there were 330 Groups in Queensland and by 1985 this had increased to 409[12]. In 1964, the number designation of a Group was dropped e.g.: 1st Wavell Heights became simply Wavell Heights. If there was more than one Group in the locality, then a local historical or Aboriginal name was used, although some Groups retained their number[13]. The original Group nametapes were red lettering on white tape. This changed in 1968 to gold lettering on bottle green tape[14] and in 2004 they again changed to be gold lettering on maroon tape. By the 1960, District nametapes worn on the shoulder had changed to District Badges worn above the right pocket[15].

Major changes happened in 1972 in response to the recommendations of the Design for Tomorrow Committee. Among the changes, the Australian Boy Scouts Association became the Scout Association of Australia. Uniforms changed – no sock tops, garter tabs or metal buttons. Cubs now wore a Green hat with yellow band, and khaki uniforms replaced the gray and navy blue. The Promise and Law also changed, and the World Badge became the Membership Badge, replacing the Tenderfoot Badge for Scouts, Venturers and Rovers and the Tenderpad Badge for Cubs[16]. Wolf Cubs became Cubs, but the ages stayed basically the same. Boomerang tests at 3 levels replaced the “Eyes”. Link Badges were introduced to facilitate the transition from one section to the next[17]. A new Award Scheme for Scouts was introduced in 1973, with Pioneer, Explorer and Adventurer Target Badges replacing the Second Class and First Class badges. The Scoutcraft Badge was introduced in 1979 to teach basic Scouting skills that had become lost and was a precursor to doing the Target badges[18]. The Venturer Award Scheme now consisted of two badges, Venturer Award and Queen’s Scout Award, with a third badge – Major Interest – for those with a specialised interest[19]. In 1977 a new Award Scheme was introduced for Rovers with the Baden-Powell Award becoming the pinnacle of the section[20].

 The next major change was the introduction of the Joey Scout section in 1990. It is believed that he first Joey Scout Mob for boys and girls aged six and seven started operation on 1st October, 1990 at Wavell Heights. Along with the introduction of Joey Scouts, girls could be admitted to all Sections without the need for the approval of the Group and Branch Headquarters. Although the Joey Scout Section was deemed by some of the diehard Scout Leaders as a kindergarten or baby-sitting service, the Section soon flourished with Mobs being formed throughout Queensland. Some of those original Joey Scouts have progressed through the movement and are now Rovers.

This is a journey that has taken nearly 100 years, and is still on its way. There have been many changes along the way, the introduction of new sections, changes in uniforms and Award Schemes. But for all those changes, this journey still carries on the aim of the Scout movement, and the principles as identified by our Founder, Lord Baden-Powell, that man should serve God, act in consideration of the needs of others and use his abilities to the betterment of himself, his family and the community in which he lives[21].

[1] Walker, C. R. 2005. “Scouting for Boys” – the Influences, the Means, the Process and its Success,

[2] Slaughter, Leslie E., 1957. Baden-Powell: Boy Scouts Centenary-Jubilee 1857-1907-1957, L.E. Slaughter, Brisbane, p.5..

[3] Slaughter. Op. Cit  pp. 10,11.

[4] Slaughter, Op. Cit  p. 14.

[5]  Fones, Ralph. 1992. In the Light of all the Years, The Scout Association of Australia – Queensland Branch, Brisbane, p. 9.

[6] Davies, S. 1910. Letter to Boy Scout Headquarters, London. (reproduction held in Scouts Australia, Queensland Branch, Heritage Archival Reference Centre).

[7] Davies. Op. Cit.

[8] Kyle, J Archibald, 1910. Letter to Australia League of Boy Scouts. (reproduction held in Scouts Australia, Queensland Branch, Heritage Archival Reference Centre).

[9] Fones, Ralph. Op. Cit., p. 23.

[10] Slaughter. Op.Cit, p. 30.

[11] Fones, Op. Cit., p. 25.

[12] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 130.

[13] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 130.

[14] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 130.

[15] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 130.

[16] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 170.

[17] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 172.

[18] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 173.

[19] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 174.

[20] Fones. Op.Cit. p. 175.

[21] “A1 – Application for Issue of A Warrant”, 1990.

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