On the 1st of December, 1994 seven scouts from Colombo District were summoned to Scout Head Quarters by the Scout Commissioner and informed that they had been selected to represent Sri Lanka at the 2nd Asia Pacific – 6th New Zealand Scout Camp to be held at Hannas Bay Rotorua in North Island N.Z. from the 2nd to the 11th of January, 1995.
Lake Rotorua is located 240 kilometers south of Auckland in the centre of the N.Z. thermal region at an altitude of 280 meters within close proximity to surf beaches, rugged mountains, exotic forests, rivers and waterfalls, During January the climate here is cool and pleasant during day followed by cold nights.
All Venture Scouts and Senior Scouts from around the world between the ages of 15- 18 male and female were eligible for selection to participate in this camp.
The theme of the 6th N.Z. Venture was “We will Rock you” and the Camp programme was to operate in 2 phases.
Phase I: A four day duration Expedition within Rotorua region.
Phase II: Four days at a site in Hannas Bay with emphasis on fun and friendship and short tours within the region and on-site activities. Expedition options included canoeing, caveing, farm life, Maori Heritage, wind surfing, skydiving, while venture base activities from Hannas Bay included Forest hiking, mountain climbing and white water rafting. Overseas participants were to conclude their stay in N.Z. with a home hospitality stay with a Scout family.
The Sri Lanka contingent that left Katunayake on the morning of 31st December, 1994 included President’s Scouts namely A.R. Gunawardana, Contingent Leader Dinuk Aluvihare from 16th Colombo S. Thomas’ College and six other 1st Class Senior Scouts from 42nd Colombo Royal College. The Contingent arrived in Auckland N.Z. on 1st January, 1995 after breaking Journey at Singapore, Sydney and seeing the new year 1995 down high up at 30,000 feet some over the pacific ocean.
We were welcomed by the venture organizers at the airport and after sleeping over night at a scout A.D.C.’s home. Early next morning the Sri Lankan contingent met other scouts, who had arrived in Auckland, at an appointment place to board buses for Lake Rotorua campsite which was reached sometimes in the mid afternoon.
Soon after the opening ceremony our contingent was divided into 25 groups. The 2 scouts from 16th Colombo came into a unit of ten comprising 5 boys and 5 girls – 2 Sri Lankans, 6 New Zealanders and 2 Japanese.
After one night’s camping at the Base Camp our unit moved out in the morning to pitch camp on a farm 50 miles away. We took with us all camping equipment and food from base camp. Each pitched a one man tent for him / herself while a central kitchen tent also provided for the quartermaster’s store. Food stocks were plenty – chicken, beef, mutton, bread, apples, oranges, pears and chocolates were supplemented by fresh vegetables milk etc. from the farm.
We camped at this site for 5 days. The farm land of undulating was extensive and ended by a forest; miles away. The farmer and family tended the milk cows, sheep and horses assisted by their trained dogs who hunted their own food when hungry. We spent our time horse riding, canoeing in a lake nearby, hiking on the mountain, trails, motor cycling and talking late into the nights starry night sky by the warm campfires.
The nights were freezing cold and solar bags provided warm water for showering during the day when a burning sun shone in a clear blue sky.
After returning back to the Base Camp, we continued to remain within our unit sleeping under canvas and spending the days on activities such as rafting, canoeing, wind surfing, mountaineering and most of all meeting scouts from other countries and making friends.
For entertainment the organizers took us on a tour to a wildlife park, aquatic centre, fun park, shopping, films and discos.
Six hundred and fifty boys and girls from around the world the representing New Zealand, Australia, Japan, U.S.A., U.K., Korea, Sri Lanka and many Pacific Islands participated in a spirit of friendship, Scouting brotherhood and broke Camp on the 11th of January ’95 to return to their homelands with pleasant memories and a host of new friends.
The Sri Lankan Contingent left Camp to go on their different ways before returning home. Dinuk Aluvihare and I Stopped over in Australia visiting friends and relations. In Sydney we met one of our College Scout from 16th Colombo Chintaka Galapathy who was studying in Australia. He gave us a gift of a tent to take back to our College Scout Troop. It was nice to meet a former troop friend in so distant a place from home.
The Venture Camp apart from being ten carefree days of fun with so many adventurous things to do and making friends from all parts of the world, also instilled a deep sense of responsibility and built confidence in us which would have been difficult to acquire without an overseas experience of a Venture Camp of this nature.
We thank the Scout Association of New Zealand, their organizers and officials for their genial hospitality and for having gladly looked after us; the A.D.C. Auckland Mr. Philip Dicky for having hosted us at his home for the post camp home hospitality, all our local sponsors and the College who contributed generously towards our travel expenses and made this memorable trip a reality.
“Have the Courage to live… Anyone can die.”
President’s Scout and Leader of the Sri Lankan Contingent