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.
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!)
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”).
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.
So, 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.
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).
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:
“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