Scout contingent of 1957 reunite 60 years on from the 'trip of a lifetime'
It was like no time had passed at all as members of the 1957 New Zealand Scouts reunited at Parliament on Friday, 60 years on from a "life-changing" journey around the world.
In 1957, 130 boys and a handful of girls left Wellington on their way to England for the World Jamboree, an event celebrating the Scouting movement.
George Fairbairn, who had been tasked with organising the reunion, said it was incredible to see so many of his fellow Scouts and reminisce about the good times they had together.
While the jamboree in Birmingham lasted only a few days, air travel was not a viable option in those days, so a good majority of the Kiwi group's time was spent on a boat to and from England.
"The entire journey lasted several months, I think, with the ship to and from taking six weeks each way," Fairbairn said.
Their ship the Monowai was the first passenger liner through the Suez Canal after the 1956 political crisis that had closed the canal to all shipping, but that wasn't what Fairbairn remembered most.
"I remember the Guides sailed on the ship with us on their way to a separate camp, so a few young female Guides and 120 young guys was an interesting combination, but we were all innocent youth, of course."
Jane Lee-Smith (nee Blakely), one of the few Guides on board, remembered the journey well. "I was 16 and I had to have school lessons with the Scouts, which was pretty interesting, but really great.
"The whole thing seemed like a dream. It was unbelievable."
The 9th World Jamboree honoured the 50th anniversary of the Scouting movement and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lord Baden Powell, who founded the Boy Scouts Association.
In attendance were some 33,000 Scouts from 85 countries and territories, alongside an additional 17,000 English Scouts who were camped near the site and took part in daily activities.