Gary Brand – 40 Years a Scout Leader

On Sunday August 25, 2019 we celebrated Gary Brand’s 40 years association with 10th Caulfield as a Scout Leader. An 18 year old Gary was invited by Lester Oviss back in 1979 to come in and try out Scouts as a leader. This was after not a great experience as a Scout himself 7 years previously. The rest is history. Today 100+ people gathered to recall all the stories and fun times Gary has given us. He sat by the resurrected fireplace in our hall and Matt Minksi MC’ed the afternoon, with speeches, laughter, tears and of course food. 

From the 90’s – Adrienne Koss and Sandra Yelen

Hi captive audience – I’m Sandra and I’m Adrienne and we have so much to share about our time in Scouts with Gary, as both past leaders and parents of scouts who very much enjoyed growing up under Gary’s tutelage.

Gary has been a constant source of entertainment.

Firstly, in all our time at Scouts, truthfully, Gary never got his hands dirty! Except! when faced with competition from our mortal enemies 15th Brighton led by Gary’ scouting nemisis Frank Moore.

For camps, we would do all the planning and organising of activities, food and working with the kids while the male leaders David Schmidt, Borry Rotblat, Gary Lipson, Richard Rosenberg and Perry Cohen did all the technical aspects of our operations.

Meanwhile Gary would be working diligently at putting up his own Taj mahal tent, and busy himself marking out his territory.

Back at the scout hall on our return Gary would regale the parents about the exciting times that had been had at camp, when in reality he had been busy drinking vodka and lemon cruzers in his high end camp chair by the fire, and snoring in his Taj mahal tent.

But still, he was a figurehead to be reckoned with, armed with his trusty head torch, and his inspector Gadget Go Go Get em pocketknife, he inspired confidence in the parents that their children were in good hands.

We would like to share a few entertaining memories from our times spent at Yalupna island on the Murray river for annual camp.

  • Gary locating the perfect camping spot beneath the humping Koalas, and adjacent to the bogan pig shooting campers, who were a great inspiration to our young scouts to stay at school until at least the end of year 9.
  • Gary and his gadgets – his tent light, his spotlights and generators which could light up Victoria, his tool kits, his triple strength dolphin torches and his foyer in his tent – not to mention his many big boys toys, which we weren’t allowed to view – as these were secret men’s business lol.
  • Gary was glamping before it was fashionable.
  • His Budgee smugglers, which he insisted on wearing in the river, while all the other men were in board shorts!! He was over confident, but that is only our opinion.
  • Our 5 km floats down the Murray in tyre tubes, – with life vests and tons of laughs. We only lost a couple of kids. Oh and did we mention Gary had his own luxurious lilo, with motorised pump while the rest of us had to blow up our second hand tyres manually. Avadim hiyinu/ we were slaves.
  • The esky full of gary’s favourite vodka and lemon cruzers – there were usually more bottles than food, for our little campers. Space was in short supply.

Gary was inappropriate at all times:

  • Poor Daron Davidovitz he would always tell him he couldn’t see him in the dark.
  • He mowed over Gary Lipson’s tent with the scout bus at annual camp, “accidently”.
  • He hooned in the state park, with the scout bus loaded with kids shrieking in the back, as he aimed for every huge pothole he could find.
  • He is well known for stating that Scouts has never been the same since girls were allowed in – he was always lamenting that boys couldn’t pee to put out fires anymore, couldn’t listen to Adam Sandler’s “my dingaling” and they couldn’t talk man stuff anymore because of the girls. What he really meant was that the girls were better at badgework, cooking, leading, organising and well pretty much everything, which drove him CRAZY!!

Gary’s famous sayings:

  • Good on ya
  • Good thanks and you
  • I’ve got the dreaded Lergy.
  • Are your ears painted on?
  • Your mother needs to let your boys drop.
  • You squeal like a girl.
  • Can you go fetch the skyhooks for the tent?
  • Have you got the tent key yet?
  • Watch out for the drop bears.
  • Simon Langer, Simon Langer
  • Master says…..

Gary has always developed pride in the 10th Caulfield brown and gold- any scout that could not erect a dome or canvas tent with the appropriate knots and fold the tent immaculately, or roll their scarf with perfect symmetry was in for a massive dressing down.  If the tent peg wasn’t in at a 45 degree angle or if pegs or hammers actually went missing, Gary would lose it!! He was incredibly entertaining. But then again you don’t lead your troop to 150 Cohen shield wins without rigorous discipline.


Gary has always been sensational with the kids. He’s a great sport and always up for teasing and being teased by them and us. Whether its water skiing, sailing, hiking, or riding the notorious Big Banana, Gary has always been in there having fun with the kids. He has been an important influence in many young scouts lives, giving them the humour and courage to get outside their comfort zones and assisting in their development in a very unique way. We are really proud of you Gary. Mazeltov on your 40 years of service, you can rest easy knowing that you have made a difference in your lifetime, not to mention entertained us all along the way. 

A Scouts Perspective – By Josh Kanarek

Hi all, for those of you who don’t know me I’m Josh. I’ve known Gary since I started my journey at 10 Caulfield 6 years ago. I recently just moved into Venturers. But that’s enough about me.

Where do I start with you Gaz?

To some of us your just a plain old scout leader with a few funny tricks up your sleeve, to others and myself your more than that. Your a mentor, a joker and just in general a reliable and amazing person. We can come to you and ask you nearly any question and usually get a mature and helpful reply. Your always helping someone no matter their age, 13 or 70. You’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed help and I thank you so much for that.

Some of us say that Gary taught Lord Robert Baden Powell scouts but we say that out of love. Gaz has so much knowledge about scouts and the world that it’s actually crazy. As many may not know Gary is very particular in the way things must be done. He is a perfectionist or others may confuse it with OCD. For example Gary makes everyone in the troop meet his high expectations of wearing beige pants. Not blue, not black. Beige. Another example is when setting up camp. If it’s not set up correctly you have to rework it. But Gary’s OCD has made the troop well known in the scouting community but has also given us lots of life skills. For example, to learn from our mistakes and improve on them. That’s partly why so many people know of Gary.

One of our favourite thing is when on the way to a camp Gaz would put gotcha calls on.

Gary congrats on 40 amazing years in scouting and to many more amazing ones.


A Scouts Perspective – By Dara 

Hi everyone,

My name is Dara and I have been a Scout at 10th Caulfield for almost 8 years. I started my journey in 2013 as a cub, and then moved onto Scouts in 2015. I remember my first few meetings as a Scout, with new kids who were much bigger than me, new times and new leaders. I remember meeting my new troop leader Gary, he was loud, passionate, with a wicked sense of humour, but also caring and wise if not sometimes a bit OCD.

He was so easy to be around, always smiling, always offering advice or laughing at one of his own bad jokes. I know to this day, he will always be one of my biggest role models. He is someone that people look up to, and I’m not just talking about in our troop, because he happens to be quite popular in the Scouting community, and at the mention of his name, people say things like ‘oh he’s a legend’ or ‘i wish my leader was like that.’ We all know he loves his gadgets, sometimes more than the kids I think.

Every camp we pack the trailer with equipment, mostly his stuff. His taj ma tent, his luxurious swinging camp chair, giant luminous lights and much more. I don’t think as a Scout troop we will ever have to go to a theme park because just by being in the van whilst he is driving is enough to get the adrenaline pumping.

Gary, I will never forget the face of that angry guy who got out of his car at a red light to scold us, only for you to tell Eli to lock his door as you drove off when the light turned green.

On one of my first weeks after joining Scouts we had one of our infamous masterchef nights, a competitive challenge where the patrols compete to see who can make the most edible dish, which is then assessed by the judges. I think I realised I had the coolest leader in the world when Gary pulled out a chainsaw, revved it up and pretended to cut the food in front of him.

Only a few weeks ago, Gary, Matt, Sascha and I got back from World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. Knowing that is was birthday on the first day in Washington, how could I have ever expected Gary not to do anything. In front of the whole Australian contingent, he got up and started to sing happy birthday to me and everyone joined in. I guess you could say I was mortified but at the same time very honoured, thanks gazza for that.

Back to the topic of World Scout jamboree, I also want to say how great it was to be there with you, even if we only saw each other a few times, just knowing that we both had such an amazing time makes me happy. Thank you Gary for everything you have given to Scouting and 10th Caulfield. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without your guidance, and through the countless hours you have dedicated to Scouts, I want to acknowledge that it has changed my life.

Thanks for listening

Gary’s Speech

Good afternoon dignitaries, current and past Scouting members and families, family and friends,

If you were to have told me, back in August 1979, that I would be standing here, some 40 years on, having served as a Leader with the one Group, 10th Caulfield, I would’ve told you that you’re a bloody idiot and to stop meddling with hallucinative substances. Yet here we are, some 40 years on and so much the richer for the amazing journey that I have been fortunate enough to have travelled.

Now, just to paint the right picture. I was a Cub and a Scout at a now defunct Jewish Group. I loved my time in Cubs and fondly remember doing the Grand Howl at our meetings. It was when I moved up to Scouts, when I was 10 ½ years old, that my take on Scouting took a turn for the worst. I was a very small and quite immature young boy and I recall it being such change from the nurturing environment that was Cubs to a “You’ve gotta do badgework otherwise your Leaders and your Patrol won’t be happy” atmosphere.  Now, let me tell you, I hated homework and to think that I was willingly going to Scouts to get more homework was not ticking any boxes.

I remember vividly when I went on their End of Year Summer Camp at Gilwell Park. It was summer and true to Victorian form, was cold and wet. It poured down on the first night of camp and I ended up half out of the A-Frame tent and was subsequently soaked and freezing. Also, back in those days, there were no creature comforts like toilets. Rather, you dug your own Kybo (a temporary toilet constructed for use when camping) and a hessian barrier was placed strategically around to endeavour giving those doing their business some sort of privacy as they were bearing down whist trying to avoid falling into the trench that was, for the time being, the Werribee of Gilwell. Issue was that the hessian had seen better days and there were more holes than there was hessian. Nonetheless, it was a place that I would involuntarily end up frequenting throughout the 10-day camp because, you guessed it, I ended up with diarrhoea. So much so that I was named Kybo Kid at the end of camp awards!

I guess the straw that broke the camel’s back was when we went on a Bunyip Hunt. Remembering that I was a small, naive 11-year-old that believed pretty much anything I was told. Seeing the older kids whittling spears in readiness for the impending ”kill of the hunt” was enough to send this 11-year-old into meltdown. No matter how much I pleaded not to be exposed to this killer of the outback, I ended up being dragged along by my Scout Leader. I was dragged because I wouldn’t let go of his leg, so much so that I was sure I was drawing blood from my vice like grip on his leg. So, we’re walking along, in the pitch-black darkness of the surrounds of Gilwell Park until, what I thought was a rustle in the bushes was in fact the older Scouts darting into the unknown with spears drawn ready to take down this behemoth. Next minute, all I saw was this monster, with bright red eyes, bound out of the wilderness and completely knock over the Leader that I was surgically attached to. Little did I know that this monster of the bush was in fact one of the older Scouts who had taped two torches, with red cellophane over the lens, to his head in what was a well-planned and orchestrated attack. I was so traumatised that I had to sleep in with the Leaders that night because I was inconsolable. The damage had been done and I had been scarred for life and that was my last hurrah as a youth member in Scouting.

Fast forward 7 years to July 1979. My adult involvement all started with a simple “What do you do on Thursday nights?” question by Lester Oviss who I had only recently come to know through our work in Cabinet Making. At that stage Scouting hadn’t been mentioned and I thought he was eluding to going out on a regular basis to the pub or the like. But then it came, the “Why don’t you come and look at what we do at Scouts?” The ensuing few weeks of hounding by Lester was always met with similar responses containing numerous expletives that, to our younger audience, all meant “thanks but no thanks. Scouting is definitely not for me!”.

His “I won’t take no for an answer” attitude paid off because he finally came and picked me up and took me to a meeting. It was at that point that I then realised there was such thing as Scout Groups and great Scout Groups. I was hooked and two weeks later was in uniform and had signed on the proverbial dotted line.

Now, 40 years on and my highlights are almost too numerous to mention. Some of my most memorable times were, after 22 years as a Leader, the first of my own children, Ben, finally joined as a Cub. He was followed by my second son, Robbie, a few years later. They both went through Cubs and Scouts and, although they are no longer members, always hear what’s going on at 10th Caulfield because I basically never stop telling them.

I have been on many camps and events including around 30 Annual Camps and 9 Australian Jamborees. As you all know, I have recently returned from a life changing event, The World Scout Jamboree that was held in West Virginia, USA. Over 45,000 Scouts and Venturers from 169 countries aged 14 – 17 years of age along with around 10,000 adults attended the pinnacle event in any youth or adult members Scouting life. It was my first foray into international Scouting and this was the brainchild of Matt Minski, a three-time WSJ attendee. I thank him and all of the current and past families who generously contributed allowing me to realise what has just been a dream over the years. Although a WSJ is a very expensive event, it’s worth every cent. Words and pictures just don’t do the event justice. Most days I was pinching myself saying “is this really happening? Am I really here?”. I now have a whole new Scouting family of 36 youth and 3 Leaders from all corners of Australia who I only met in Washington DC, 4 days prior to the Jamboree commencing. Again, I was a part of their life changing experience and this is why my role in Scouting is so rewarding.

I’ve made many life-long friendships during the last 40 years; my closest friend, Simon Langer, was in actually fact a Scout when I first started. We became mates when we met at some simcha (joyous event) when he was in his early 20’s and have been great mates ever since. His oldest son, Joel, recently went through Scouts too.

My greatest fear is overstaying my welcome. I have always reminded the various Leaders that I’ve seen come and go through the Group, to tap me on the shoulder should they feel I would be better off to move on or change positions. Whilst I have been offered District and Region roles, it is the Scout section where my heart lies. This is the age where you can make the most impact on a young person’s foundations in life. I have seen many young people, Leaders and adult supporters come and go through these doors over the years and I derive gunsa naches (much joy) when I cross paths with a former Scout and all they want to do is relive their memories.

Although my body sometimes struggles to keep up with my, what some would refer to as a teenagers mind, I still thoroughly enjoy what I do in Scouts and the fact that I can still mix it up with the youth of our community keeps me going. I have a great support crew in my Leaders and wider Scouting community and they’re the ones who make me look great. Without them I couldn’t do what I do.

To see a young person, smile and enjoy what they’re doing because they want to do it and you were part of helping shape their journey is priceless. An organisation that builds resilience and confidence and empowers its members to make well informed decisions that determine their destiny is what Scouting is all about. We encourage camaraderie and belief in oneself all in a safe and non-threatening environment.

To coin a slogan, Prepare for Adventure, Prepare for Life.

It is great to see so many faces today. Some current and many from the last 40 years. I thank you all for coming today to share in what we should always have, simchas (joyous occasions).

Kieran Lim

Congratulations, Gary. 40 years as a leader!

When we first met at Straddy, I was a very new Leader, who enjoyed your Scouting tales. It has been great to keep meeting you at various Scouting events. Your humour and common sense approach to mentoring Youth have been positive influences on the development of my own style as a Leader. Your joy in helping Youth to succeed and to achieve their potential are inspiring.

It is not only the Youth who have benefited from knowing you. You have been a role model and guide for me (and many other Leaders and adults in Scouting).

Kieran Lim
Badimara Scout Troop, ACT

Rory Sackville 

I attended 10th Caulfield Cubs and Scouts now some 30 years ago and as a testament to Gary’s care, friendship and level of engagement he had with us all – I still see Gary today (mostly footy related as we are both cursed with the same affliction of barracking for the Saints). Gary was always supportive and encouraging – when I was apprehensive about flying to Perth for Jamboree (I’d never been on a flight that long before) – he strongly encouraged me to go saying I wouldn’t have another experience like it in my life … I went and he was right!

Gary obviously saw something in me and made me patrol leader (still to this day – I’m not 100% sure why – I certainly wasn’t that good of a Scout) and later he asked me to be a regular babysitter for Ben and Robbie.

I can tie a reef knot and that’s about it but I still have so many fond memories of my time at Scouts with Gary.

Congratulations on 40 years in Scouts and wishing you many more to come.

Here’s 20cents, go and call someone who cares!

Rory Sackville 

P.S I still haven’t told my parents about listening to tapes of Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson and Eddie Murphy on repeat on our trips to camp.

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