Pan Australian Camps

Pan Australian Camps are held every three years at various locations around Australia, even in Papua New Guinea in the early seventies. The Camps have always had an international emphasis with Boys and Officers travelling from many parts of the B.B. world.

22nd Pan Australian Camp – January 2027

The 22nd Pan Australian Camp will be hold in Victoria.
Members of The Boys Brigade who will be 12 years of age (or over) in 2027 are eligible to attend.

21st Pan Australian Camp

The 21st Pan Australian Camp is being held in the Australian Capital Territory (The Greenhills Centre, Canberra) in 2024 (3rd – 11th January).

List of PA Camps

The links below will take you to ‘The Boys’ Brigade Archive Trust Virtual’

History of the Pan Australia Camps

Notes by Warren Finnan
(Executive Chairman, BBA Management Committee)

These notes are designed to assist Boys attempting the Pan Australian Camp History component for the BB Knowledge Award. They are a summary of Dates, Activities and Events occurring at P.A. Camps.

The background and events leading to the first P.A. Camp can be discovered in the book, “Boys, Urchins and Men” by the late Dr M.E. Hoare, available from your State Headquarters or ask your Captain.


Pan Australian Camps are held every three years at various locations around Australia, even in Papua-New Guinea in the early seventies. The Camps have always had an international emphasis with Boys and Officers travelling from many parts of the B.B. world. Many long – term friendships have developed from both P.A. Camps and from Australians who have attended other International camps, particularly in New Zealand.

Originally, the Camps were designed to be a low-cost holiday for B.B. Boys then gradually evolved to include tours, on-site activities, adventure components and the introduction of the five -sided Pentapac award from the 3rd P.A. Camp in 1968-69.


Mr Max Gray, the then Captain of 37th NSW Burwood Company, organised the first P.A. Camp at Narrabeen NSW in Dec 1962-Jan 1963. The next Camp at Southport QLD in Dec 1965-Jan 1966 was largely organised by the B.B. in Queensland with Mr Gray as C.O. (Commanding Officer)

Mr Gray continued to lead a national Camp Committee for the 3rd, 4th and 5th Camps working in conjunction with local State groups. Max was an inspiring leader and also managed to serve as Australian President from 1970 to 1977. He was honoured for his contribution to P.A. Camps at the last Camp in Queensland in January 1999.

The late Mr Fred Roser, took over the Camp Director’s role for the 6th, 7th and 8th (Centenary) Camps, followed by Mr Neville Ray for the 9th and 10th Camps with the structure still controlled by an ongoing national committee based in Sydney.

The 11th Camp in Newcastle structure consisted of a joint Sydney- Newcastle committee under the directorship of Mr Warren Finnan who had served with the former national committee since 1979. Up until this point in time, the key portfolios in the organising structure had consisted of Director, Treasurer, Registrar, Secretary, Program, Publicity, Site Activities and Pentapac with a range of sub-units based on the state network.

12th and 13th Camps have been organised and operated by the host state and were hugely successful, with an emphasis on volunteers providing a wide range of services including catering.

Camp Structure

Every Camp is divided into a numer of Camp Companies consisting of Boys and Officers from a number of Battalions, Country Towns and Overseas visitors. Usually, Boys sleep in a different tent to others from their home Company. Each tent has an NCO in charge and an Officer allocated to take Devotions and look after the welfare of each Boy.

Each Company is under the control of the O.C. (Officer-in-Charge) assisted by an Adjutant, Chaplain, First-Aid Officer, Pentapac Officer and various other supporting roles. The 8th and 13th Camps also grouped Camp Companies into Battalions for ease of programming and communication.

An initiative at the 13th PAC was the appointment of younger Officers assisting the Company CO, Adjutant and Chaplain so that they could gain experience in these roles.

List of Camp and Highlights

1st, NARRABEEN NSW, JAN 1963 (300+ Campers)

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.

2nd, SOUTHPORT QLD, JAN 1966 (600+ Campers)

An entire train was hired by the BB to take campers from Sydney to Brisbane, stopping for meals supplied by churches at various stations along the way. Activities included tours to Brisbane and Moreton Bay, on-site activities and swimming. (Once again, additional info welcome)

3rd, STANWELL TOPS NSW, JAN 1969 (600+ Campers)

Introduction of PENTAPACaward featuring 5 sides, Bible Studies, Assault Course, Discover Sydney, Compass and Cricket Ball throw. Abseiling on cliff-tops, incident when well known Queensland identity, Don Smith, slipped off rope sustaining minor injuries. Tours to Sydney, Warragamba Dam, Steelworks and Coalmine.

4th, RABAUL T.P.N.G, DEC 1971-JAN 1972 (400+ Campers)

Provided the biggest airlift in Papua New Guinea since the end of World War Two including the use of DC3 aircraft with canvass seats. Some flights diverted to avoid a cyclone. Daily earth tremors, climbing an active volcano, tours to islands, exploring old tunnels and war relics.

B.B. Extension Officer, Brian England, fell off a cliff while searching for a missing camper, sustaining massive injuries. Heavy cloud prevented a helicopter from landing and it would be several hours trek to carry him out. Prayer groups were set up back at Camp. In the final 30 minutes of daylight, the clouds parted allowing the chopper to land then fly Brian to hospital. Praise the Lord for His control of the situation.

As it was the wet season, Campers stayed in huts. Many took tours of Port Moresby and Cairns on the return trip.

5th, DEVONPORT TAS, DEC 1974-JAN 1975 (1,000+ Campers)

This Camp was set up in the middle of a racecourse with the advance party contending with heavy rain and thick mud. One of the first groups to attempt the Cradle Mountain Expedition had to turn back owing to a snow blizzard making conditions unsafe (In December!)

Tours included a two-day visit to Hobart and Port Arthur with one group crossing the Derwent River Bridge in Hobart, the day before it was hit by a ship, causing total collapse. Since the 3rd PA Camp, Seniors were able to do abseiling as a separate activity. However, the 5th PA Camp provided the opportunity for a separate Senior Cradle Mountain Expedition and Junior Mount Roland climb, each with their own distinct badges. As one of the local Officers had an interest in the Devonport Speedway, this was THE spot to be on New Years’ Eve.

6th, PERTH WA, DEC 1977-JAN 1978 (600+ Campers)

“Westward Ho” featured on the advertising brochures for the 6th PAC with Boys and Officers travelling by air, rail and road, some Companies being away for five weeks.
The camp continued on a familiar theme with on-site activities, tours to Perth city, Rottnest Island, heaps of swimming, canoeing and amazing heat! Towards the end of camp, the temperature reached 47 degrees Celsius.

As Boys travelled to the various parts of Perth, they invited girls to the Camp Open Day. The camp-site at Maida Vale was on the outskirts of Perth in a then semi-rural area, with no buses back after 1pm so many of the girls had to be driven back to their own area by the Camp Committee.

7th, MELBOURNE VIC, JAN 1981 (800+ Campers)

Held in the middle of Melbourne’s Bible Belt at Nunawading, this Camp featured an awesome Assault Course containing obstacles of such great height, that at least two people “froze” at the top of one of the wooden structures.
The 7th PAC was the fifth Camp to feature the now well established PENTAPACaward, consisting of Devotions, Skills (Compass Reading, Cricket Ball Throw, Chess, Draughts, Basketball), Discover Melbourne, Assault Course and Orienteering. Tours included the famous Puffing Billy railway and a trip to Sovereign Hill and Kryall Castle at Ballarat.

A series of inter-camp company competitions were also conducted in addition to the Volleyball comp sponsored by The Bank of NSW (now Westpac). This Camp was the last held using a common activity program with little variety for Seniors.

8th (CENTENARY), CANBERRA ACT, DEC 1983-JAN 1984 (1400+ Campers)

BB Australia celebrated the World Centenary in many ways throughout 1983, with the Centenary Camp Canberra as the grand finale to that busy year. The term 8th PAC was not ever used to promote or identify the Camp.
This camp introduced a radical change in the choice and range of activities available to campers including the concept of electives where 12 months prior, Boys could complete a “Maybe” card indicating their choice of activities. From the initial response, a final elective program offered separate choices to Juniors and Seniors, with the first registrations being offered first preference to: Abseiling, BMX Bikes, Camp Magazine, Camp Radio, Canoeing, Roller Skating, Shooting, Trail Bikes, Archery, Caving, Clay Target Shooting, Fishing, Horse Riding, Model Planes, Squash and Ten Pin Bowling and Senior’s Expedition.

Canberra also included on-site activities (Camp facilities) including Mini Bikes, Air Rifles, Basketball, Volleyball, Fitness Course, Games Room, Indoor Cricket and Videos. Also the concept of the NCO’s Club, an after hours venue for Seniors, was pioneered at the CCC.

Snowy Mountain and Canberra Tours completed an exhausting Camp Program that had been put together under the leadership of 6th Canberra Officer, Allen Brooke ( who is co-ordinating the 2K2 Camp in 2002)

As a logistical operation, the multi-destination transport requirements, staffing and venue arrangements were a major challenge to the organising committee. However, the face of PACs were changed forever at this Camp.

9th, ADELAIDE SA, JAN 1987 (700+ Campers)

Held at Morphett Vale on the southern outskirts of Adelaide, the 9th PAC provided a large choice of electives to take advantage of the campsite and Adelaide’s attractions. Tours included Discover Adelaide, The Hills, Victor Harbour and an all companies visit to Speedway Park.

After the huge (for BB) Canberra Camp, the 9th PAC provided a wonderful contrast, containing a wonderful camp “spirit” and sense of co-operation as many Officers were now working their second PAC under the elective system, one that required a considerable effort from them, compared to the old program method used up to the 7th PAC. The concept of the Seniors Night Out was introduced at the 9th PAC, where Senior Boys would have a night out in the City in company with a couple of Officers.

Adelaide was also affected by unseasonably cold weather, requiring campers to wear warm gear in January. The “gully” winds were a nightly occurrence, culminating in a fierce wind in the early hours of Sunday January 11 1987 that snapped the concrete-steel poles that supported the huge marquee used for church services and concerts. Even in the raging wind, the Lord guided those with electrical knowledge through the maze of live wires that were entangled in the collapsed canvass. Although campers were covered in the wind-blown dirt, the Communion Service held a few hours later amongst the ruins was truly a blessed occasion.

10th, BRISBANE QLD, JAN 1990. (900+ Campers)

Situated at Kallangur on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, the 10thPAC featured acres of paddocks that were converted into a motorbike track, mini-bike track, flying fox across the dam, waterslide using water dispensed from old shower heads, floating pontoon and canoe trail, and of course the assault course, of course!

For the first time, Campers were able to choose non-pentapac electives to try out an activity without the pressure of reaching a set standard for the Pentapac Badge. In addition to Discover Brisbane, Dreamworld, Bribie Island and Sunshine Coast trips, Electives included climbing of the Glasshouse Mountains and canoe expeditions to the Noosa River System. To further enhance the program, the Camp had its own radio station and a canteen that became a marketing triumph, “Gordy’s Gobble and Go.”

A wide range of stamps featuring camp activities and theme days were available so that Campers could put together a portfolio of the fun-times at camp. The 10th PAC also 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.

Over 200 Boys and Officers made commitments to Christ at the 10th PAC.

11th, NEWCASTLE NSW, JAN 1993 (600+ Campers)

At 160km north of Sydney, Newcastle combined the amenities of a large city with the beach, lake, bush and mountain attractions that abound in the surrounding area. The Camp was situated at Merewether High School featuring 20-25 campers in large tents in contrast to the smaller groups of 6-8 at previous camps.

“New Look, New-Life, Newcastle” as the Camp theme, extended to the great locations close by, including Lake Macquarie for fishing, sailing, sailboarding and canoeing; The Wattagan Mountains for bush walking, abseiling and nearby motor bikes; Barrington Tops for expedition and whitewater canoeing; Shortland Wetlands for canoeing in addition to lots of sites such as the bowling ally, roller skating rink, rifle range, golf, sports centre, squash court and BMX track.

Campers also made the epic trip to Australia’s Wonderland and a day trip to Nelson Bay and Port Stephens, providing a great chance to catch up on sleep on the forward and return trips.

Prior to the 11th PAC, Westpac had always provided an agency at Camp. However, in the economically “efficient” early 1990’s, this was not provided, so the Camp Administration devised the existing system that allows Campers to pay in excess of their camp fees prior to Camp. The balance can then be withdrawn during Camp as required.

As at other Camps, large numbers of Boys and Officers made Commitments to Christ following challenging messages from visiting speakers, John Dickson and Mike Frost.

12th, PERTH WA, DEC 95-JAN 96. (600+ Campers)

Campers arrived at Perth Airport, to be transported in ex Sydney double deck buses, gear downstairs, passengers upstairs for the nostalgic trip out to Maida Vale, the same site as the 6th PAC. After a bit of tree lopping, the busses were able to drive through the campsite and became a feature of every outing.

What a Camp the WA Committee put together for the visitors from the “East” and overseas! While the campsite contained the usual array of on-site activities, a heavy emphasis was placed on getting wet either at the beach or the local pool to combat the hot WA climate.

Discover Fremantle helped to satisfy one of the Pentapac requirements while tours included: a day at Adventure World waterski park and Perth, A half day on a fully rigged sailing ship on the Indian Ocean, a day trip to Rottnest Island with its crystal clear water for swimming and diving.

Electives allowed more opportunities to be either, in, under or beside the Swan River while some seniors stretched their skills on the abseiling, caving and high ropes course at Margaret River in the south of the state.

For the first time in PA Camp history, the entire catering function was performed by volunteers, saving the Camp thousands of dollars in labour costs. Camp Companies also ate in large tin sheds, that certainly gave opportunities for warm fellowship in the hot weather.

The 12th was the first PAC to be planned and managed entirely by the host state without the influence of “Sydney”. Well done Western Australia!

13th, BRISBANE QLD, JAN 1999, (600+ Campers)

Held to the north west of Brisbane at Samford Scout Camp. Heaps of rain during the first five days, but it did fine up eventually. Campers lived in lined bell type tents and ate in a dining hall at the top of a BIG hill. But the food was great with heaps of variety and assistance from over 64 volunteers just in the catering area alone.

What a Camp for varied activity! Overnight electives included: Four wheel drive adventure, Stradbroke fishing, Sea kayaking, Adventure sailing, Mapleton challenge (high ropes course), Extreme expedition, Wivenhoe challenge (canoeing down Brisbane River), Atkinson adventure (varied things at BBQ Campsite), Tour de Force (bicycle expedition).

The campsite’s hilly terrain catered for go-karts, assault course, abseiling tower, dam with waterslide, computer room and swimming pool. Seniors club, International tent and the DogHouse (canteen) completed the scene.

The 13th PAC was promoted by a mysterious dog called Blue, who featured on regular mail-outs prior to camp, “Blues Tails” (daily newsletter) and appeared as the camp emblem on badges, shirts and posters. To this day, there is still debate about Blue’s true existence!

This Camp certainly represented the coming of age for PA camps in terms of technology. It was the first Camp to have its own web site, used 15 PC’s to plan, operate and administer the Camp, sophisticated sound lighting and fog machines to enhance the church services and visiting acts, and used a high quality two-way system to co-ordinate events on-site.

Church services included a Big Band and extremely sophisticated production company from Kenmore Baptist Church enhanced by a “reggae” Christian Band, (“Yo Man” became an on going cry). Also, as PA Camps are international, a girl from BB Malaysia attended as a “boy”, completing her Pentapac award.

BB Queensland operated a very successful Camp on behalf of BB Australia. The Committee blended a mix of personnel with experience from previous PA Camps, new local Officers plus over 140 Volunteers who assisted in catering, program, security, canteen and general tasks. Thank you BB Queensland, for a great Camp!

2K2, CANBERRA ACT, January 4 to 14 ,2002.


Pan Australian Camps have changed considerably both in content and technology levels since the 1st PAC, for example, the daily camp newsletter is now produced using desk top publishing software and a digital camera providing images of the days events. Very detailed operating manuals are produced to assist Officers to prepare for camp. Transport, program and catering requirements are integrated on a single database.

Prior to the 13th PAC, Campers had to bring all their eating gear, causing an on-going washing up problem and potential for infection spreading etc. Disposable plates and cutlery solved this problem at the last PAC.

For the record, the requirements for the PENTAPAC award at the 13th PAC were:

Devotional Pass 7/10 for silver, 9/10 gold. Obstacle Course Achieve prescribed times for Junior or Senior. Discover Brisbane 75% of questions for silver, 90% gold. 2 Day Elective Demonstrated participation, improvement on initial skills shown. On-site Activities Meet minimum standard for a range of on-site activities

Overall, a Boy achieved Silver for Devotions plus 2 other sides and Gold for passing all 5 sides at the required standard.

Up until the 10th PAC, a Boy who turned 19 BB age during the year the Camp was held, had to attend as an Officer. This method was altered from the 11th PAC onwards to allow Boys the option of attending as a Boy or Officer , subject to their Captain’s approval. Also, for at least one Camp, Boys could not attend directly from No. 1 Section, having to have served at least six months in No. 2 Section

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 PAC planning cycle. As indicated earlier, a National Committee used to plan and direct each Camp from Sydney. However, this process is now totally managed by the host state on behalf of Boys’ Brigade Australia. The Camp Director reports via the Executive Chairman to the BB Australian Executive ( consisting of Representatives from each state) who is responsible for setting the goals and objectives of the organisation.


This essay has provided a background to the history of Pan Australian Camps, their structure and organisation, listing of each Camp’s highlights and some general comments. PA Camps work because we are commonly linked through Christ and BB.

A non BB person would probably find our Camps strange, as the Camps represent the essence of our Object and Motto, for example, we know our chain of command and rank structure and know how to obey orders, translating to the orderly running of such large Camps.

Finally, all the planning, transport arrangements, activities and Camp program are nothing, without the willing participation of the Boys and Officers who attend each Boys’ Brigade Australia, Pan-Australian Camp.

Warren Finnan
Australian Executive Chairman 23/7/99

Read more at History of the Pan Australian Camps