Rob Lavers from the 14th Bulawayo (North End) Scout Troop, joined the South African Contingent as Patrol Leader to attend the 1955 8th World Jamboree Mondial Canada. John Landau (later became Chief Scout of Rhodesia) joined us in camp at the 8th Jamboree in Canada. The other one who joined us in the South African camp was the son of well known Dr. Olive Robertson of Bulawayo.
Scout Contingent in CapeTown
Back:"Grompie" Groom, Alan Craig (Contingent Leader), D Roberts, R Lavers, J Shaw Middle: A Craig, I Appleton, P Lewis, Nl Derry Front: G Boud, R McRae, J van Hirschberg Standing on Right: J Morom, H Steenkamp
The contingent left Cape Town by sea on the Arundel Castle and arrived in England on the 5th August...
Rob's write-up of the 8th Scout Jamboree - Niagara 1955
With thanks to Robert Lavers for sending this photo in
And from:- scoutwiki.scouts.org.za
1955 - 8th World Jamboree, Niagara-on-the-lake, Canada
The 8th Jamboree was the first World Jamboree and first International Scout gathering to be held outside Europe. A total of 71 countries were represented and the numbers totalled 11,139 of which 18 were South Africans.
All Jamborees have 'themes' and this one was 'New Horizons'. There were many firsts, some of which included; all cooking was done by charcoal; television came to the World Jamboree; so did a hurricane called Connie!
The leader of the South African contingent Senior Commissioner A. C. Craig, from Johannesburg, said that the 10-day Jamboree had been a great success. This is his report on the Jamboree.
The contingent left Cape Town by sea on the Arundel Castle and arrived in England on the 5th August. They had a few days sightseeing and then together with the British contingent were flown to Canada onboard 14 then 'state of the art' "Stratocruisers" and "Constellations" for the start on 18th August.
"We had no illness, no mishaps, and have all brought back plenty of memories."
The three Sea Scouts that were part of the contingent M and W McLeod, G Hussey
Grave and happy
Some of these memories were grave, like the opening and closing ceremonies of the camp, but - some were very happy.
"I shall never forget the day the whole Jamboree, all 10,000 of us went to the Canadian National Fair at Toronto," he said. "We got up at four in the morning and went to bed at two the next morning. In that time we marched for miles around the fair ground and queued for hours to get our special trains for .the return journey.”
"Most of the boys slept on the train and almost had to be carried into their tents when we reached camp."
The South African camp was named "Atlantic," and was placed rather too near the edge of a wide basin for Mr Craig's liking.
Continuing his story of the night they returned from the fair he said: "We had not been in bed long when my assistant, Geoffrey Hussey, said a storm was blowing up. Almost immediately the basin in front became a deep lake and flooded one of our tents nearby."
"Wading through three inches of water, we carried the boys, who remained asleep throughout, into a tent further away." "Not until the morning did any of the boys realise what had happened."
On this same night an incident which gave the boys their biggest laugh occurred. To dispose of rubbish they had dug two grease pits, situated within a foot of each other. An American Scout walking to his tent half asleep, stepped into one and then into the next while the South Africans were still shouting to him to look out.
The South Africans earned the name of being the biggest bargainers in camp, and the prize for this has been awarded to Nigel Derry, of Cape Town, who has returned with a complete American Scout uniform.
The Rhodesian and South African Scouts were not impressed by the Niagara Falls, "They don't compare with the Victoria Falls, in spite of all the floodlighting," they said.
The most photographed Scout was 74-year-old "Grompie" Groom, from Middelburg, who lost count of the times he posed.
The South Africans were interviewed on radio and television during their visit to Canada, and developed a blasé attitude to ordinary newspaper reporters.
Upon landing back in England, the contingent moved to Gilwell Park, where the Scouts remained until they left for South Africa and home on September 29, 1955.
Report by Scout Nigel Derry of Sea Point
Nigel's Jamboree souvenirs
THREE other Cape Town Scouts and I were part of the South African contingent to the World Scout Jamboree in Canada - and our journey there and back took in Las Palmas, England and Holland.
It was my first sea trip when I left Cape Town for Southampton on July 22 and the 10 days we spent at the Scout International Hostel in the East End of London prepared us for the intensive schedule ahead.
We did a lot of sightseeing in those days, highlights being Madame Tussaud's, the famous waxworks, and a motorboat trip on the River Thames. I remember one day when I went off on my own, and got lost three times in five the minutes! London's a pretty big place.
After my first sea trip came the even bigger thrill of my first flight.
I don't mind admitting I felt a bit odd at first, 21;000 ft. is a long way up! I couldn't sleep too well, thinking of it. But after a time we all felt rather bored.
There were 72 scouts making the trip; and it took 17 hours, and of course there was nothing to do but talk.
The South African Campsite
You've already read lots about the Jamboree, so I'll just add that it was terrific.
There were 68 nations represented, and the organization really impressed me. I met a lot of Scouts from all over the world, and we used to have terrific discussions in the evening.
Arrangements were made so that we visited each other at meals, too, so that we all mixed up a good deal, and had a chance really to get to know each other.
One day three or us were standing together when suddenly Lord Rowallan, the Chief Scout, appeared. He shook hands and chatted for a while and even remembered some of our fellows who were at the last jamboree in Austria. We were very thrilled about that, because it is unusual to get a chance to see him, let alone have a chat. We also met Lady Baden-Powell, widow of the founder.
When we arrived in Canada we were met by the South African Board of Trade Commissioner, and he organized an Ontario State Police Launch trip for us all over the Toronto side of Lake Ontario. He gave us lunch at Canadian Yacht Club and a sightseeing trip in four taxis. He was very good to us, and we appreciated him a lot.
A 1955 Luxury Bus
Back in England we struck camp at Gilwell Park in Essex, and rested. We needed to rest too, because most of us had lost weight in Canada. Then we all set off on our trips to meet relatives and friends independently.
I went to South Wales, where I stayed with my great-uncle at a quaint little place called Caerleon. It was the site of a Roman fortress and there were all sorts of interesting remains to see. I had a rest there and visited relatives In Cardiff and Barry, but after all the rush it was almost too quiet and I soon returned to London and did a round of shows. Sometimes I saw three shows in one day! And I caught up with my diary there, too - it had got a bit behind ever since we first landed in England!
Next we did a bus tour of Brittan - 12 of us in a luxury bus built to take 33. We covered 1,003 miles, mainly in south, southwest and west England and northern Wales.
People were very nice; it was so unusual for them to meet South African scouts.
We had to keep explaining that there weren't lions in the backyards at home!
One thing we couldn't get used to in England was tea-time. We used to have tea about 5.30 p.m. and by halt-past-seven we'd be groaning with hunger, but didn't get supper until nine.
After the bus trip we went to Holland. It's very flat country of course with a windmill here and there, but I liked it. In Delft we bought presents and tulip bulbs, and I was so busy and intrigued that I even forgot my tea.
We sailed for home from Rotterdam and stopped at Las Palmas, as we had on the way over. On our first visit there we'd gone over the island in a taxi, but coming back we explored the town. I found a very nice girl in one shop, and what with my trying to improve her English and her trying to teach me Spanish. I only just managed to get back to the ship before the gangplank went up!
When we came back we could see a difference in everyone. One boy was terribly shy when he left, but you should have seen him when he came back! I think our contingent leader was right when he said that we went away boys but came back men.
"Groompie" took the Long Way Home
The last member of the South African contingent to the World Jamboree of Scouts in Canada last year (1955) arrived back at Johannesburg two weeks ago.
He is Lone Scoutmaster, Mr. C. G. D. Groom, "Groompie" of Middelburg, Transvaal, who is 76 years old and has been a member of the Scout Movement without a break since 1910.
Last year he flew from England to Canada and back so that he could attend the World Jamboree, and then he went by ship to Australia to represent South Africa at the 1955-56 Pan-Pacific Jamboree.
Since leaving Johannesburg last July, Mr. Groom has travelled 36,000 miles by sea, air anti land. His most vivid impression of the gathering of Scouts in Canada was the great welcome given to Lady Baden-Powell. wife of the founder of Scouting, when she was received in the arena.
Pan-Pacific Logo He has been away for ten months and all that time he has worn only Scout uniform, with corduroy shorts. He took four uniforms with him and did all his own washing and ironing.
At the Pan-Pacific Jamboree outside Melbourne there were 17,000 scouts from 20 nations in camp, and Mr. Groom was appointed to take charge of the mess for Headquarters No. 1 sub-camp, where he supervised the cooking and serving for a staff of 60 officers.
He took with him a Zulu shield, a battle axe and an assegai, and of course he had his photograph taken everywhere he went. He found the publicity given to him quite furious, and on one occasion he posed for his photograph 171 times.
After the jamboree he was invited to give a talk to the Melbourne Rotary Club, and to several schools where the talks carne under the heading of geography and history.
In spite of his youthful age, Lone Scoutmaster "Groompie" wants to make another two Jamboree trips before he is 80, and he has put his name down to attend the World Jamboree in England next year.
Groompie attended the following Jamborees:
1926 Dunedin, New Zealand;
1929 3rd World Jamboree, Arrowe Park, England;
1936/7 Australian Jamboree/Corroboree;
1955 - 8th World Jamboree, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada;
1955-56 Pan-Pacific Jamboree, Australia