STAFF: The Bucket List – Hilary (NZ)

Standard

   Attention People of the Internet: if visiting Our Chalet is not on your bucket list – it should be!

I write this as I am in my fourth week of working at the Chalet here in Adelboden, a town in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. But excuse me for not introducing myself- Hi, I’m Hilary, I’m from New Zealand, and I’m an Autumn Volunteer.  This is the way that we introduce ourselves at the beginning of each event, before we raise the WAGGGS and Swiss flags, and then conduct our pinning ceremony.  In this pinning ceremony each person who has never visited Our Chalet before, receives a special pin that you can only gain when you visit.

IMG_2183

So far, this has been a busy few weeks. I arrived on Saturday the 30th of August, before training began at 9am on Monday the 1st of September. Our first event, Alpine Adventure Week, began on the 3rd of September. During this week I was able to participate in events such as International Night and Swiss night. I also went on multiple hikes including a hike up Chuenisbargli (1739m above sea level) where the Ski World Cup weekend is held every January, a hike to the woodcarver’s, and an overnight hike up Bunderspitz (2546m above sea level, where we arrived at the top just in time to see the sunrise). I met amazing people from all over the world including the Maldives, Greece, America, England, and Costa Rica.  I definitely improved my fitness by hiking up mountains, and decreased it, by eating lots of Swiss chocolate! The closing campfire was most definitely a highlight. All seven of us volunteers officially completed our training, and were presented with our Staff Neckers by Tanya, the Centre Manager.

IMG_1971

Just two days later our next event, Walking Week, began. This was as equally enjoyable as the Alpine Week. I was pleased to be able to lead a hike with another of the volunteers, Zoë, to the woodcarvers. I enjoyed getting to know the women on International Night, where we shared food from each of our respective homelands (Girl Scout cookies, Girl Guide biscuits, mushy peas and mint sauce, rock candy…).

Life at the Chalet isn’t confined to the Bernese Oberland however. Each week, we get two days off, and I have enjoyed travelling to Interlaken – where some of the vollies went paragliding, and others, including myself, instead chose to go white water rafting.  Another day, Beckie, Hana and I went to Bern. We explored both the Einstein Museum and the Bear Park, as well as wandered around soaking in the sun in this beautiful old town. Tomorrow I depart for Munich to visit my cousin and take in the sights of the city and Oktoberfest. I’m also excited for next month when we get to bring a group to Thun and take a funicular train up the side of Niesan Mountain.

IMG_2101

The awe of waking up with a view of the mountains has also inspired me to begin my bucket list. Although it only consists of a few items so far (such as walk the length of the Great Wall of China and finish the Duolingo Spanish course), I will definitely be continuing to add to it in the future.

Our Chalet, as the name suggests, has definitely become a home away from home for me. The welcoming LTS (long term staff) and the way that us seven Autumn vollies have just clicked, has made this place warm even as the weather begins to get colder. I have now had to add “Visit the other three world centres” to my bucket list. If they are anything like Our Chalet, I know that I will find three more homes around the world.

Hilary Kento-Peachey (NZ)
Our Chalet Assistant – Autumn 2014

Staff: Love. – Catt (UK)

Standard

‘Love [luhv]: a strong feeling of affection or a great interest and pleasure in something.’

Love is the feeling that I associate with Our Chalet. For the past 4 years Our Chalet has been my home, workplace, safe haven, a place for laughter, tears and true friendships. The people I have met, the adventures I have had, the friendships I have formed and the guiding spirit I have experienced have all formed this love for a Chalet, High up High on the Mountain in Adelboden.

catt-and-cat

Living in the Alps – this has been a truly magical experience. Not just the surroundings which I am sure you will all agree are spectacular but to the people I have met and the friendships I have formed. Each season brings a something different to the mountains and the colours are so vibrant and eye catching.

Summer is the time where Our Chalet comes alive it is by far the busiest season here and it seems to go in a blur. Meeting people from all over the world, getting to know them, hearing stories about their challenges and adventures during the day really brings the house to life. It really brings home the reason behind the existence of the World Centres: a place where everyone is welcome and can feel at home.Fondue

Autumn is by far the most colourful season. The days are warm and the hiking conditions are perfect: there is a breeze to cool you but the sun is still shining. It is the season where you really connect with the guests, with fewer event participants you can take the time to speak to the guests individually. I have to say after experiencing all of the seasons here, Autumn has to be my favourite.

Winter the season where my adventures began and it will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the time when I was put to the test as I had never seen that much snow before. Skiing was a challenge to me: chipping my front teeth during my first ski lesson, I decided I much preferred being on a toboggan or skibok after this. This was the time I developed my understanding of international guiding, immersed myself in Swiss culture and started to love being at Our Chalet.

Winter

Spring is the season of change. It is when the mountains change the most they change from white to a dirty grey/green/brown colour, the grass starts to go green, and the flowers start to come out bursts of yellow and purple are all around. The cows come out of their winter barns and are seen in the lowlands, the days become longer and warmer. The baby cows have to be the cutest and friendliest things on the planet – they make your even the rainiest days a good day.

Opportunities – the past 4 years have been a series of opportunities. From being a winter volunteer 2010/2011, and heading straight to Pax Lodge to volunteer during the Young Women’s World Forum, to finding out that the Guest Services Volunteer for the summer was unable to come to Our Chalet. After saying that I would be more than happy to head back to Our Chalet for the summer I could not believe it when I got an email asking me to come back for the summer, this lead to a position on the long term staff team as the Guest Services Assistant which then lead to my current position as the Guest Services Coordinator.

HSS

The things that I have done since I have been here have been amazing and some of the things I could never have even dreamed of doing before coming here. Each opportunity has helped me develop as a person, gain valuable life skills, challenge myself, learn lessons about who I am and how I interact with others. I have been giving the opportunity to travel far and wide, gain skills and share my experiences with the people I have met: thank you Our Chalet. A big thank you to the 19 LTS (and of course my baby Skippy) I have worked with over the past 4 years: you have helped make me who I am today.

Princess Day

Volunteers – you are amazing and you are the reason that Our Chalet can exist. I have come to realise the power of the volunteer through working with some of the most inspirational, kind, dedicated, passionate, caring, enthusiastic, motivational, creative and amazing young men and women WAGGGS and WOSM has to offer. The 108 Our Chalet Assistants, 10 Short Term Volunteers and 61 Ready Steady Go Volunteers you know who you are: thank you for every smile you put on my face, every laugh we shared, the memories we made and the challenges we faced together. Not to mention the 9 Our Chalet Interns: you have been vital members of our team, words cannot describe how much you mean to the other LTS and volunteers you work with – never stop being your amazing selves.

IMG_1523

Experience – the past 4 years have been a positive experience. I am not saying that everyday has been easy; there have certainly many challenges along the way. Each of these challenges has helped me grow and become the person I have become today. From being a volunteer to a member of staff I have embrace every opportunity that had been given to me and I am thankful for everything that has happened over the past 4 years and the people who have made my experience so meaningful.

The overall World Centre Experience is something that I would recommend to anyone, if you are thinking about applying you should. There is no question about it; the World Centre Experience will change your life forever. Sangam, Pax Lodge, Our Cabana and Our Chalet are such unique palaces which offer something special to the Guiding and Scouting Movement. Whichever World Centre you are thinking of applying to the programmes that they offer will help you to develop as an individual, gain valuable life skills and see a beautiful place in the world.

So as I come to my final weeks at Our Chalet I have mixed emotions: I am sad to be leaving a beautiful corner of the world, I am excited about what comes next, I am happy I have got so many amazing memories and scared about what the future will hold. Never the less the skills, attributes, friends, connections and memories will comfort me when I have left Our Chalet behind. So I say bring on the next adventure wherever it may be 

Bunderspitz
Catt Moody (UK)
Our Chalet Assistant (Winter 2010-2011), Guest Services Volunteer (Summer 2011), Guest Services Assistant (2011 – 2012), Guest Services Coordinator (2012 – 2014).

STAFF: Our Chalet Staff Challenge – when every point counts! – Laura (USA)

Standard

Every season the vollies at Our Chalet are given a list of tasks, each worth a certain amount of points, and we are challenged to reach eighty points by the end of our season. Many of the tasks are physical and involve hiking, biking, climbing, or exploring. Some involve learning about Swiss culture and language.IMG_0763

A few are cooking related, where you have to share a dish from your home country or prepare a meal for the staff. And several of the tasks involve cleaning and other maintenance jobs, like going to the recycling center, cleaning the staff house, and digging out the compost.

The list includes a few easy tasks to get you started. A few days after I arrived at the Chalet, I earned my first point by learning to tie a friendship knot. (Thanks Alys!)

IMG_1987“Climb the Magic Tree” was next. Two more points!

After a couple more easy challenges, I worked on some harder ones. A few long days of hiking earned me a total of ten points (“Hike three mountains, at least 6000 meters in total” and “Hike to Kandersteg”).

A three-day trip to Magic Wood, in eastern Switzerland, earned me five more (“Camp overnight in a tent somewhere not on Our Chalet grounds”).IMG_2737

Megan and I knocked one more off the list when we spent a morning biking to Frutigen (three points).

We had so much fun we decided to go again a couple weeks later!

Last night, after the first of three days off in a row, I looked over my challenge sheet and realized that I was halfway through my season here and still had A LOT left to complete.

IMG_1200So, when a rainy day cancelled the hike we had planned for today, Ashton and I were quick to plan Challenge Day – an entire day dedicated to completing as many tasks on our Staff Challenge as possible. A challenge marathon, if you will. We drafted a schedule and vowed to complete as much of it as possible.

I overslept a little, but got started as soon as I finished breakfast. I went to the Great Britain Room, where the chalet library is kept, and I picked a historical Guiding or Scouting book to read for three points.

I decided to give myself a bit of an added challenge by selecting a Swiss Guiding manual written in French. It was published in the 1960s and is absolutely fascinating!IMG_2464

Next, Ashton and I got started on our play (“Perform a play in costume for the staff”, three points). We had a script written and props ready by lunchtime, and then we performed it at the tea party in Baby Chalet, which a few other vollies put together for their own staff challenge. We also wrote a song to go along with it (“Write and perform a new version of the Our Chalet song”, two points).

IMG_2466We also found time today to climb around a table (two points). This task is exactly what it sounds like.

You have to start on the beam under the table and climb over and back down without touching the floor. It took me a couple of tries, but I did it! Here is another vollie taking a break halfway around.

I earned eleven points so far today (including “Write a blog for the Our Chalet website”, three points) and the day’s not over yet!

Additionally, the staff challenge has two personal challenges. These can be anything you want, up to five points each. For one of them I have decided to write a blog post about every single day that I am here. Feel free to follow my progress at laurainswitzerland.blogspot.com

The Staff Challenge is full of silly tasks, but they are meant to be a starting point for vollies. A lot of the tasks, like the hikes and the day trips, are things that I would do anyway while I’m here, but there are plenty of other activities that I would have missed out on if not for the little push from the Staff Challenge. It forces us to try all kinds of things and seek out experiences that we would never have considered.

Like my Swiss Guiding book. I’m only twenty pages in and I am already enchanted by it. While reading it I consider my own scouting experiences and realize how much it had in common with the Swiss Guides from the 1960s, and I’m sure with other Guides and Scouts from all over the world.

This is my favorite part so far:IMG_2465

“Voilà un livre qui n’est pas tout à fait comme les autres. Il ne suffit pas de le lire, il faut essayer de le vivre. [...] ce qu’il contient, ce n’est qu’un commencement, qui doit t’aider a découvrir ce que tu es capable de réaliser, seule, ou en équipe avec ta patrouille. Et chaque chose réussie doit t’encourager a faire un pas de plus.”

Here is my rough translation:

“This is a book that is unlike any other. It is not enough to read it, you must try to live it. [...] What it contains is just a beginning that must help you to discover what you are capable of doing alone or together with your troop. And each success must encourage you to go one step further.”

Girl Scouts has always been an important part of my life, but it wasn’t until I came to Our Chalet that I realized the extent of my global sisterhood through Scouts and Guides. Every week I meet new people from all over the world.

We spend a lot of time discussing our differences and sharing the things that make us unique (“how do you say that in your country?”), but more importantly we talk about all the things we have in common. We know the same campfire songs, we have earned similar badges, and we share the same passions for sisterhood and making the world a better place.

In the words of Ida Von Herrenschwand (also known as Falk), the first guider in charge of Our Chalet, “in a different tongue, with different convictions, before different flags, we have all made the same Promise and this Promise is the heart of Guiding; that which is there, that which will last.”

Laura Haenchen (USA)
Our Chalet Assistant – Summer 2014

STAFF: Exploring the memories of Our Chalet – Jess (AUS)

Standard

When I arrived at Our Chalet, I was immersed in my ideas of the present and the experiences that we, as the summer volunteers of 2014, would have this year.

I had no idea that the history of this beautiful place would have such a marked impact on my time here. More than this it never even crossed my mind that volunteers and visitors from decades ago could have had exactly the same feelings and experiences as me.

It all started when I was tasked with the challenge of finding records of my Grandma’s Guide Leader’s visit here in the 1950’s. I took on this mission with excitement, because it’s a long way from Australia and I loved the idea of learning about the journeys of other women over the years to get here from across the other side of the world.

photo 1

One of my favourite things as a volunteer is the excitement I can see on people’s faces when they see the Guest Book in the Great Britain Room and sit down to write a message in it. There is something so special about leaving a real hard-copy mark on a place.

The guest books at Our Chalet have been held in the hands of thousands of people since the Chalet’s opening, and each one holds countless stories.

It makes me so excited to think that the stories people leave today will be read carefully by Guides and Scouts of the future as they sit in a rocket ship flying over Adelboden. This is what makes it so special to have the opportunity to dive into the bomb shelter (where we store all the old guest books from the very beginning of Our Chalet) and learn more about the people who came here before us.photo 2

One of my favourite things I found in a guest book from 1948-1955, was a poem called “An Ode to a Bench” . The writer of this poem’s name was Betsy “Tigger” Larsen and I’m fairly certain that she read my future thoughts as she wrote about how ” I breathe one last long gasp and see a welcome sight- a bench where I’ll collapse”.

I have never been to a place as hilly as the Berner Oberland, and at the same time I have never been in a place with as many park benches scattered along the roads.

I loved the way that this guest from so long ago had this exact same thought about such a little thing and it is this that reminds me of just how many people I share this experience with.

photo 3

I have not yet found any record of the guide leaders I initially set out to find.

Rather, what I have got from my time here is the fact that we are all part of the same community.No matter what decade, year, month or day- this thread of Guiding and Girl Scouting is what brings us together.

It is this that that I love so much about volunteering at the Chalet – I am part of a tradition and a very special group of people that has existed since 1932.

It is us who can leave our own memories so that in another 80 years, more volunteers can find records of us and talk about how dated our clothes and hairstyles were.

Jess Naylor (AUS)
Our Chalet Assistant – Summer 2014

STAFF: Living something better than a dream! – Molly (UK)

Standard

Guiding has always a big part of my life and continues to be so.
Both my Grandma and my Mum were keen Guides and encouraged me to join the Guiding family at a young age. I can’t thank them enough as my life has been completely enriched by the opportunities I have been given and embraced.

IMG_6947

Having decided to take a gap year between completing my A levels (exams in the UK which enable you to go to the University) and going to University I spent a very happy 6 weeks at the Sangam World Centre participating in the Community Programme in Pune, India and then to my great surprise was offered a chance to be part of the  Spring volunteer team at Our Chalet here in Adelboden, Switzerland.
Both opportunities have opened my eyes to such different cultures and made me realize how fascinating the world is and how truly interesting are the people who live in it.

Before arriving here, I could never have imagined what an amazing time I would have. I have made new friends with unique individuals from all over the world, each bringing their own culture and experiences to Our Chalet. Friends I will really cherish for ever.

We really are a true family, always laughing, joking and supporting each other through the more challenging times. It is certainly a special feeling to know that we are living together under one roof, getting to know each other and together creating new memories which will remain with us always.


IMG_7046
I am very proud to say I can now set a bed in 2 minutes, clean bathrooms in double quick time and cook food other than boiled eggs!

All my hopes have been exceeded by simply ‘living in the moment’ and taking on a variety of personal challenges from learning how to ski and walking down and up the hill every day!

I am now staying on as a summer volunteer which is extra special and will enable me to make the most of the fun of the summer season. I am certainly looking forward to the exciting activities on offer, such as abseiling, hiking, adventure park and swimming in an Alpine lake. I am planning to go paragliding for my birthday whilst I am here and can’t wait to have a go at the white water rafting.

I have recently enjoyed reading the diary of The Chief Guide, Lady Baden-Powell, who describes Adelboden so perfectly…

‘The sun was just up and I looked out from my bedroom window over the scattered roofs of the little houses of this mountain village to the valley below. The high mountain peaks opposite were aglow with light and wreaths of mist were wafting away across the face of the slopes…it was all so peaceful, so homely and so lovely’. – Lady Baden Powell

IMG_8899
Her choice of words couldn’t be more accurate as the picturesque scenery and snow covered mountain tops are just as beautiful today as they were during her visit. Our Chalet is truly an incredible place to spend time, no matter how old or how young you happen to be.

I am so grateful to everybody for giving me such life enriching opportunities and experiences I shall remember forever. Each day I ask myself how can this possibly get any better and it does!

My motto is now ‘Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile’.

Our Chalet has given me the chance to do all these things and more. Every person I have met here has shown me something new, true friendship and kindness, leaving an impact on me and helping to shape my future life.

Molly Braham – Spring and Summer Volunteer
UK

 

 

STAFF: How to… start a fire with 1 match!  (Chalet style) – Catherine (UK)

Standard

Using this technique, you can start a roaring campfire using just a piece of wood, a knife and a single match. At Our Chalet we use the Swiss Scout method to make kindling by carving feathering (very thin curls of wood)  and smaller strips of wood.

You will need:

A section of wood (¼ of a log usually works well)

Knife (preferably sharp)

Tree stump/ other suitable cutting surface

Extra piece of wood  (preferably fairly thick but still easy to hold)

1 match

Campfire circle

Plenty of sticks/logs for burning

Bucket of water/snow (because as great as fire is, it’s good to be safe)

First thing’s first, you need to make some feathering

With the blade facing downwards, glide the knife along the corner of the wood (try not to use too much pressure)

slide knife down wood

It should start to look something like this:

beginnings of shavings

Which after bit more feathering (and practice!) should look like this:

lots of shavings

Then, dig the knife in a little to cut off the feathering (you might want to use the extra piece of wood to hit back of the knife)

cut off shavings with help of stick

You should then have a nice piece of feathering

piece of fethering

You will need lots of these pieces, as they are the most helpful in starting the fire.

Next, you will need some thin strips of wood

Place knife at a slight angle on top of the wood. (ensure you use the section of the blade that’s nearest to the handle, as this area is the  easiest to control)

position knife

With the thicker piece of wood, tap the back of the knife several times (you may need some force), to slide the knife through the wood so that the wood splits.

use bigger stick to hit knife

wood will split

You should now have a thinner section of wood.

Use the same technique repeatedly to make many wood strips of different thicknesses.

make sure you have a range of wood sizes

Arranging the kindling

Place many pieces of feathering in the middle of your campfire circle

lots of shavings

Arrange 3 medium sized pieces of wood over the feathering

arraning wood on shavings

Place the thinnest wood strips against the 3 main pieces.

Add the slightly thicker pieces of wood, so that you build a small tepee-like structure

what it should look like

Keep the rest of your wood close to hand so you can add it as the fire grows (it’s helpful if it’s in size order)

Now it’s time to strike your 1 match! (once lit, shelter from the wind)

1 match!

Light the feathering by holding the match underneath the curls of wood, (if you can, light more than one area of the feathering)

With any luck, the feathering should smoulder and the thin pieces of wood should start to catch alight

As the first bits of kindling burn, add thicker pieces to build up the fire

should catch on fairly quickly

 

Start to add thicker sticks to continue to grow the fire, until it’s large enough for cooking, warmth and of course roasting marshmallows

 P1260659

Putting out the fire

Spread out pieces of wood

Pour water (or snow) over the fire until all flames and embers are extinguished 

 P1250574

Happy campfire making!

Catherine Rose, Spring Volunteer 2014

Our Chalet

STAFF: Conquering the world of food, one spoon at a time – Georgie (UK)

Standard

I know where I want this blog post to end up, but I’m not entirely sure how to get there. I guess what I mostly want to say is that being at Our Chalet rather forces me to be a better person.

Like probably a lot of people, I’m quite lazy about a lot of things. I tend to leave things all over the place and if I don’t do things straight after it’s been decided they’re necessary, I procrastinate until I actually forget I was going to do them at all. I’m also a bit rubbish at eating. There are more foods that I won’t eat than ones that I will, and I will often straight up refuse to try things. Or at least, that’s what I’m like at home.

And to some extent, what I’m like in the staff house. Our living room is kind of hopeless, and I have a fair amount to do with that (sorry guys). In the Main Chalet though, if you don’t do the things you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do them, either they don’t get done, somebody else will have to do them, or you’ll have to do them tomorrow or the day after. The first option is bad because we all tend to find it quite distressing when, say, the dining room floor needs a good sweep, or the boot room is full of mud. Life is better when the Chalet is clean.

Image

Loook at mee, I’m J Georgie…

The second option is also bad because it’d be so incredibly unfair to leave things unfinished for the others. They wouldn’t do that to me and I’d feel far too guilty to do it to them. So those two options are out. The third is also a no go, because if you’re going to have to do it, you may as well do it now, as opposed to a couple of days later.

Yesterday, there were seven of us working and the others (I was on reception) finished everything really really quickly and then set about seven rooms that we would otherwise have had to sort out today. And as such, we had a lovely relaxed day today because there wasn’t nearly as much to be done.

So I’m a lot better about doing things when they need to be done and picking up after myself. Admittedly, there were two days where my thermal was sat on the table in the Great Britain Room, but there were no guests, so we don’t talk about that.

The other thing that I mentioned is food.

At home, I mostly eat rice and bread, and various kinds of meat. And then pretty much nothing else. Trying new things would generally make me panic quite a lot too. Food was quite a big worry coming here, and I wasn’t sure if I’d end up eating enough to cope with the programme and such.

It was pointed out to me the other day that when I first got here I almost looked like I was about to cry at meals. Spag bol, chicken carbonara, rōsti and alpine macaroni were all foods that I wouldn’t even have considered eating. Now, while I still really dislike alpine macaroni, my favourite meal here is rōsti, which is grated potato with cheese on top, and we usually put bacon in it too. Before coming here, I wouldn’t eat potato or cheese.

Image

All that cheese made me strong to hike a mountain!

My parents were here this past weekend, and one of the nights we had chicken carbonara. I didn’t eat pasta because I thought it was slimy, and I would never have been willing to try the carbonara sauce. I don’t eat the vegetables in it, but I’m happy to eat the pasta and the chicken and sauce. My parents didn’t comment on it at the time because they figured they should probably treat me like an adult about it. They did text my sister though, and got a text back that mostly just said “!!!!!”. Which tells you a fair bit about the situation.

I’m also a lot closer to being happy to try new foods now. I used to completely freak out, but now I’m willing to put things in my mouth and then either eat some more of it or drink lots and lots of water. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I think that being here has done me a great deal of good. Yay.

Georgie Joy
Spring Volunteer (UK)