Scout's Honour

05 December 2023
  • Veteran stories
  • History & commemoration

Two Army veterans share the adventurous and fulfilling experiences they’ve enjoyed as volunteers for Scouts Queensland.

About Tim 

Tim Gibbings is a born-and-bred Queenslander from Dalby on the Darling Downs. He joined the Army Cadets as a schoolboy before enlisting in the Army Reserves at 18 years old. Six months later he joined the Regular Army through Officer Cadet School at Portsea, serving full-time for 30 years before transferring to the Active Reserves, where he remained for a further 10 years before transitioning into the Standby Reserves in 2019. He hung up his boots in late 2022 and is now a life member of Gaythorne RSL Sub Branch, as well as Region Commissioner of Scouts Queensland’s Northern Moreton Bay Region.  

Tim Gibbings

Tim Gibbings

About Chris 

Chris Hawkes served for 20 years in the Army’s Engineering Corps in both soldier and officer roles, mostly in the Special Operations Engineer Regiment. After finishing up his military career in Canberra in 2016, Chris moved into the private sector, eventually moving with his family to Deagon in north Brisbane. He joined Sandgate RSL Sub Branch in 2020 to connect with other veterans and is now on their committee, serving as Vice President. Chris is also a volunteer Scout Leader for Sandgate Scout Group and takes pride in organising the group’s participation in Sandgate’s local ANZAC Day march, as well as their annual visit to the Sub Branch’s museum. 

Chris Hawkes and his son John

Chris Hawkes and his son John

Joining the patrol 

Tim Gibbings first volunteered for Scouts in 1990 while he was training at the Royal Military College of Science in England. 

“Like a lot of parents, I got involved in Scouting through supporting my kids,” Tim says. 

“I was posted to a British military establishment and was living in a married quarter with my wife and two children. My son was interested in Scouts, and they had a group on base, so I took him along and started volunteering as a parent helper. 

Scouts - conducting an investiture

Scouts - conducting an investiture

“When we came back to Australia, my son wanted to remain in Scouts, so I became a parent helper for the Balaklava Scout Group near Port Wakefield before signing up as a Cub Scout Leader. 

“I was a Cub Scout Leader for nearly 10 years, a District Leader for Cub Scouts for six years, a Branch Commissioner for almost seven years, and now I am the Region Commissioner of the Northern Moreton Bay Region and I have 13 Scout groups in my region.” 

Like Tim, Chris Hawkes signed up in 2020 to support his son. 

“Scouts encourage parents to be involved as leaders, supporters or helpers,” Chris explains. 

Scouts Queensland

“I took up the opportunity to make sure that my son could maintain his time at Scouts while also doing something active in my local community. I’ve been volunteering for a few years now, and I really enjoy imparting a lot of practical knowledge to the kids.” 

Scouting and service 

Scouts has a proud history spanning almost 120 years. Since 1907, the movement has grown to 174 national Scout organisations worldwide. Australia’s membership alone consists of more than 70,000 Scouts (both boys and girls) and volunteers – many of whom come from Defence backgrounds.  

“Scouts was started by [Lord] Robert Baden-Powell, who was a British Army officer during the Boer War,” Tim explains. 

“He started writing about his military experiences in news articles and found that boys were rapt with forming games to practise fieldcraft skills, which prompted Baden-Powell to start the Scout movement. 

Scouts Queensland

“Hence, there's a lot in Scouting that feels familiar to people who work in the military. The structure, the uniform and the values come from a military background and align so well with each other.” 

Chris also believes that Scouting provides a fantastic volunteer opportunity for fellow veterans, due to the many practical skills that can be transferred from military training. 

“In Scouting there is a lot of building, knot-tying, camping and navigation – skills that you may take for granted, but the kids really see value in,” he says. 

“There is a real relationship between your service and Scouts. I thought I had forgotten the skills I learnt in the Army, but as soon as I got my hands back on a bit of rope and a compass, it all came back to me quickly.” 

Community and identity 

There are many benefits to volunteering with Scouts. For example, Chris enjoys using his role as a Scout Leader as an opportunity to mentor the boys and girls in his group. 

“We use a ‘youth leading, adult supporting’ model. You provide ideas and advice, and the Scouts get to plan, do and review their own activities,” Chris says. 

Chris hosting Sandgate Joey and Cub Scouts at Sandgate SB

Chris hosting Sandgate Joey and Cub Scouts at Sandgate Sub Branch

“The model is quite democratic in that each child gets a turn at participating, assisting or leading. I am there to make sure they have fun, that they are safe, and that they are getting opportunities to learn and make mistakes.” 

Tim says that being involved in Scouting has given him another identity and purpose outside of the Army. 

“After my kids grew up, I stuck it out with Scouting. When I got out of the Army, I knew I was not going to another career or job, but I had respect in another community, which helped me a lot,” Tim explains. 

“Some of the kids who were in my Cub Scouts group have grown up. I have been to their 21st birthdays, their weddings and their children’s christenings. I still run into parents in the local community and most of them don’t know that my name is Tim. Rather, they know me by my Scout name, ‘Kaa’, because that’s what their kids called me. 

“There is something for everybody in Scouts because we want community, camaraderie, initiative and a variety of skills. For veterans getting out of the Defence Force, consider giving it a try.”