Pan Australian Camps

In 1963, the first Pan Australian Camp (PA Camp) was organised by Max Gray, Captain of the 37th NSW Burnwood Company. The first in what was to become a tri-annual event, was originally designed to be a low-cost holiday for BB Boys, and from the onset, City discovery tours were an integral part of the camp itinery. The 1st Pan Australian Camp held at Narrabeen, New South Wales, included tours of Sydney, and by the 3rd PA Camp, the format and structure of the camp program was formalised with the introduction of the PentaPAC Awards programme, of which the city tours were an integral part of the Awards.

The PentaPAC Award, was first awarded for proficiency in Bible Studies, Assault Course, Discover Sydney, Compass and Cricket Ball throw. Cliff abseiling was a major feature of this camp, and a special abseiling badge was issued for those that participated. The rugged outdoor activities, were a common theme amongst early camps, and not more so than the 4th PA Camp. To date this is the only camp held outside of Australia, and was held at Rabaul, in the then Australian Territory of Papua New Guinea, between December 1971 and January 1972. Getting over 400 Campers to site required the biggest airlift in Papua New Guinea since the end of World War Two. The 5th PA Camp continued to provide for some separation in the adventure activities for younger boys and more senior boys, the Senior Cradle Mountain Expedition and Junior Mount Roland climb. Seniors city nights out were introduced at the 9th PA Camp, and this encouraged boys to attend two camps during the BB career once as a camp junior and then three years later as a camp senior.

During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, attendance at camp continued to rise, with more than 800 Campers at the 7th PA Camp in Melbourne, followed by a record 1400 Boys and Officers attending the 8th PA Camp in December 1983, which was also the culmination of a year of Boys Brigade World Centenary Celebrations.

The 10th PA Camp formally developed the concept of Volunteers where BB families, and Officers who were unable to attend Camp, assisted in preparation, canteen, security and many other roles contributing to the Camp’s success. Every Camp has drawn heavily on the local/state BB Companies for the provision of resources, venues and personnel. This has required tremendous dedication from the host state during the three year PA Camp planning cycle. Whilst a National Committee used to plan and direct each Camp from Sydney, this process is now totally managed by the host state on behalf of Boys’ Brigade Australia.

PentaPAC Award

The PentaPAC Award is a uniquely Australian Award, in two levels, which can only be obtained at a Pan Australian Camp. The Silver level is obtained by getting three sides of the five-sided award. The Gold level can only be awarded when all five sides of the award have been achieved. This award is in the form of a metal badge, with a Gold enamel centre for the Gold award, and is worn in Uniform on the left armband below the Queens Badge, and on the right of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. These awards are issued by the company when returning home from camp, and if a Boy has attended more than one PA Camp and has achieved this award at both camps, then a coloured back cloth is worn behind the badge. There is also a badge or certificate awarded at camp to signify that the badge has been awarded. Unique Silver and Gold camp cloth badges were produced for the 3rd PA Camp through to the 13th PA Camp, and then more recently the 17th PA Camp, whilst other camps awarded a certificate.

The requirements vary slightly from camp to camp, however, there are some requirements which are mandatory and common between all the camps, whilst others are site specific.

Devotions: Daily tent devotions have to be passed to gain either the Silver or Gold awards. Silver requires a pass of a minimum of six days, and Gold requires a pass of eight days.

Skills: The skills side is to encourage Boys to participate in activities such as playing chess, draughts, table tennis and darts etc.

Electives: different electives are offered at camp dependant of the local surrounding area, and opportunities. These are often off site, and include mountain climbing, fishing, water skiing, sightseeing, canoeing, shooting, horse riding, paintball, beach volleyball, surfing etc. Demonstrated participation and improvement in the elective activities are the standards to be met. Supervising Officers make an assessment of participation and good behaviour. The elective requirements vary from camp to camp, and the 18th PAC in 2013 required the following: one full day, and two half day electives for the Silver Award, and two full day, and four half day electives for the Gold Award.

Discovery: A common requirement of the PentaPAC award is a discover City activity. This usually takes place in the largest city nearest to the camp, and require Boys to follow a set of clues to navigate around the city.

Inter-Camp Company Games and site activities: A record card is usually given to each Camper, listing a range of activities available at the camp site, for example, Abseiling Tower, Vertical Cluster, Giant Swing, High Ropes, Mountain Bikes,

Mission Impossible, Archery, Assault Course, Orienteering etc. Satisfactory participation is required for the Silver Award and for the Gold Awards, and the card is stamped to record the achievement. Most Boys attending manage to achieve this award whilst at camp, and both the silver and gold cloth badges are awarded, if both stages are achieved. These were then sewn onto the camp Uniform shirt, and often shirts from previous camps were worn, displaying previous PentaPAC awards.

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