Lithuanian Scouts in Australia
The first Lithuanian Scouts arrived in Australia on 28th November 1947 into Freemantle on the ship, “General Heinzelman”, which brought the first Displaced Persons (DPs) from the refugee camps in Germany. This date is considered the start of Lithuanian Scouting in Australia. On the ship there was a troop (draugovė) of 46 boy scouts, ( skautai vyčiai, budžiai, skautai), and 7 girl scouts, (vyresnės skautės, skautės), led by Borisas Dainutis, who was to be the first chief scout (Rajono Vadas).
It is interesting to note that during the sea journey, there were scout meetings, (sueigos), camp fires, (laužai), even international laužai with Latvian and Estonian scouts on board the ship.
Lithuanian scouting spread all over Australia. Groups were formed in Adelaide, Bonegilla, Bathurst, Brisbane, Canberra, Geelong, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and in some smaller towns. In the year 2016 there are active groups in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney with a total membership of approximately 200.
Some of the highlights of Lithuanian scouting including our participation at the Pan-Pacific Jamborees of 1948-49, and again in 1955-56 (Wonga Park); 1952-53 (Greystanes, NSW). During the 1948-49 Jamboree, the Lithuanian camp site was acknowledged to be the most interesting with its dug-out table, exhibition of scout items, and various decorations. The Lithuanian flag flew proudly. In In 1962-62 at the VII World Rover Moot, (Wonga Park), we were represented by skautas vytis Romas Cibas.
In 1978 the VI World Lithuanian Scout Jamboree (VI Tautinė Stovykla), was held at Gilwell Park, attended by 400 scouts of whom 100 were from overseas. The notable guests were Bruce Garnsey (Chairman World Scout Bureau, Switzerland); Lilė Milukienė, Chief Lithuanian Scout from USA, (LSS Pirmijos Vyriausia Skautininkė).
Camp chief was Henrikas Antanaitis.
In 1978 in Melbourne, ESGAV (Ethnic Scout & Guide Association of Victoria) was formed which consists of Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian scouts. It major activity is the annual three day camp. It is still active in 2016.
The Lithuanian scouts in Sydney had belonged to A.A.S.E (Australian Association of Scouts in Exile) from approximately the mid 1950’s to approximately mid 1970’s when its activities were no longer recorded.
The activities of the Rajono Vadija are currently concentrated on organizing the 10th World Lithuanian Scout Jamboree (X Tautinė Stovykla), in 2018 January 2-12 at Wonga Park. It is also the year in which Lithuanian scouting will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.