As we approached our last day on tour, we needed to prepare for the next morning and day of travel. Boys were told that they would need to carefully prepare their belongings, especially football boots to ease the time taken to negotiate customs. The tour group frantically scrubbed and wiped clean boots to the satisfaction of staff before moving on to organise luggage. I can honestly say that 99% of the boots have never been cleaner in another fine display of regimental diligence from the tour party. During the chore, it was easy to see boys reflecting on what had been an amazing and maturing tour experience.

The next morning we moved bags and shared breakfast, before the boys were given the opportunity to explore Queenstown on their own, to purchase souvenirs for dearly missed family members. Room was needed to cater for the gifts in carrry-on bags and so a lot of foresight and preparation was required. Plenty of care was taken to buy suitable gifts for siblings, parents and pets. The boys enjoyed their independence almost as much as the Queenstown “Cookie Time” where many NZ dollars were exchanged. Before long it was time to say goodbye to NZ and head to the airport for our trip home.

“Please fasten your seat belts for our approach to Sydney” with this well known statement from the pilot, all Newington tourists let out a deep sigh. Some may have sighed with happiness, knowing they would soon be reunited with parents. Some may have sighed with pride, after surviving a huge tour overseas on their own. Some may have sighed with disappointment, realising the tour of a lifetime was now over. These realisations were manifested in a wonderful outpouring of joy at seeing our loved ones once more. The love shown at the arrivals gate was totally expected but great to see! Boys and parents alike, cried, smiled and embraced together after 8 days apart.

It was an interesting trip home. It was plain to see that all tour members were ready to arrive home. The energy levels were definitely lower on the journey home. I am certain this was due to a combination of fatigue, advanced maturity levels and being in a reflective mood. I am sure the boys have a new respect for their parents after somewhat fending for themselves on tour.

The 43 boys had an absolute blast on the tour. They all became extremely good friends with camaraderie between boys from both campuses in abundance. The enjoyment on their faces was apparent during every game and experience. “The penny dropped” for many of the boys on tour in terms of their standards of play as well as their appreciation for where they fit in the world. The boys were challenged every day, with respect, gratitude, resilience, teamwork, selflessness and time management tested and required. Their sense of self was an important aspect to grasp for the boys enjoyment and growth on tour. Self-confidence, self-regard, self-respect, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, self-trust, self-worth were all states positively impacted on tour.