Trys, Outdoor Instructor, UK

Ten years on and the memories are still strong

Almost ten years ago, 32 random strangers representing the tri-nations (Aussie, Kiwi and South Africa) met for the first time. In retrospect, looking very young and innocent. We were part of a program, at the time called GAP a.k.a Gap Activity Projects, now known as Lattitude Global Volunteering. They had placed us in a small town called Botley outside of Southampton in England to work in an Outdoor Education Centre.

Who would have thought that ten years could pass so quickly? University days and degrees came and went, some got married, some had children and most continued to travel the world. Over the Easter break this year we managed to get 25 of this original group (pictured above) together in two reunions – one in Melbourne and one in London. People travelled from all parts of the world in an effort to see these friends that they hadn’t set eyes on in ten years.

The Melbourne reunion brought 19 of us together with people travelling from New Zealand, London and South Africa – I personally cut a trip to Israel short in order to attend. This posed a question in my mind: “After ten years, why are we going to so much effort and expense to see people that we spent a few months volunteering with in the English countryside a decade ago?”

I found the answer within a minute of walking into the beach house where we all met and seeing all the familiar faces. Even after all this time and all the things we have done, with other friends and partners having come and gone, we were all still best friends.

I can’t remember half the names of the people I went to school with and I spent 13 years with them! But these 19 people were as fresh in my mind as if it were only weeks since I last saw them.

So it happened that ten years later we got together for a weekend of reminiscing and shenanigans. Catching up on ten years worth of stories and generally having a great time. Out came all the campfire songs – the ‘crazy moose’, ‘jaws’ and ‘three blind jellyfish’ (only fellow volunteers will get these references!). Out came the old school camp games which for some reason have all ironically become drinking games in the last ten years – I think we can credit towards our university lifestyles. And out came all the old photo albums and the accompanying “Oh my god! Did I actually look that young?!”

The fact of the matter is that between us we have travelled far and wide. Very few of us are now living in the same country let alone the same suburb where they grew up; yet everyone was willing to drop their lives temporarily leaving children, significant others and jobs behind in order to act like a bunch of 19 year old innocent first-time travellers again.

Only 3604 days to the next reunion – bring it on!

Submitted by: Trys Eddy