Chinchilla Scout numbers sky-rocket
2018 may as well have been the year of the Scout in Chinchilla.
This year has seen the town's Scout group population explode with more than 40 new children signing up to become Joeys, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers.
The Chinchilla Scout Group also welcomed a handful of new adult leaders to the pack, but there are two particularly devoted parents who have made this year such a successful one.
For Leanne and Adam Fitzgerald, becoming Scout leaders has allowed them not only build upon a community program for Chinchilla's youth, but to create their very own Scout family.
Mr Fitzgerald first became involved with Scouts after daughter Samantha joined the Blackwater group as a joey scout when she was six years old.
Several years later and the family has made the Chinchilla Scout group a way of life, bringing new energy into the old den which hadn't seen much action in quite some time.
"A lot of parents bring their children to scouts in the hopes of getting them off of their computers and their phones,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
"Scouts is an excellent way for kids to learn some vital life skills and gain a bit of confidence. We teach the children a whole range of things, from how to make a sandwich to how to change a tyre.”
Mrs Fitzgerald added: "Our Scout group has also become a fair bit of a social experience for parents as well.
"We hold regular social evenings at the Commercial Hotel and have a monthly raffle to help raise some money for the den. It's a great way for families who are new to town to meet some new get to know people.”
The hard work and dedication from Mr and Mrs Fitzgerald shows in the Chinchilla Scout Group numbers alone.
Starting off the year with a humble group of 30, the Fitzgeralds said their den was now home to 72 children with ages ranging from six to 15, making them the biggest group in the Darling Downs region.
This year has seen the Chinchilla Scout Group take on a number of exciting events and community activities including Clean Up Australia Day, a recycling program, regular visits out to Illoura nursing home as well as a number of challenging outdoor adventures such as white water rafting and abseiling.
And 2019 is already looking to be another year packed to the brim with opportunities and the opening of the Venturer unit for older Scouts aged between 14-18.
"We couldn't do what we do without the generous support from our sponsors. Apex, Chinchilla McDonald's, Roma Fire and Safety, Ivan Hewett, Browns Carpets and The Commercial Hotel have all played a huge role in getting out Scout Group to where it is today,” Mrs Fitzgerald said.
Scouts Queensland deputy chief commissioner for development Geoff Doo said the Chinchilla Scout Group was actually one of the biggest outside of South East Queensland.
"We have been working closely with the Chinchilla leaders and the local Scout committee to support the group and help get it to where it is today,” Mr Doo said.
Scouts has been around for 110 years now and it doesn't look like it will be dying out any time soon.
"Scouts Queensland have a strategic plan to grow membership to 22,000 participating Scouts by 2022,” Mr Doo said.
"Scouting still exists and plays an important role in today's world. We have 10,000 scouts gathering at the next jamboree in January in Tailem Bend down in South Australia with 1200 scouts attending from Queensland.”
There's never been a better time to join as Scouts Australia have recently approved the new youth program for implementation from early next year.
The new program focuses largely on adventurous activities from all sections of scouting and will involve all ages from Joeys to Venturers.
The next lot of sign ups for the Chinchilla Scout Group won't be held until the start of the school term next year, with sign ups for six to eight year olds for Joey Scouts being held on January 29.
Families are more than welcome to come and have a try for a couple of weeks before deciding whether Scouts is right for them.
Mrs Fitzgerald is urging more adult volunteers to come and sign up to the Chinchilla Scout Group, as they won't be able to expand numbers without more adult supervision.
As part of registering to become an adult leader, volunteers will receive all training, blue card registration and uniforms at no cost to the individual.
For more information on all things Chinchilla Scouts you can contact Leanne Fitzgerald on 0408 205 750.