STAFF: “Guiding is not just escape, something like a holiday” – MK (CA)


You need to come here. Simply put, you need to visit Our Chalet at some point in your life. Put it on your bucket list. Come as an individual, or come as a Group. Bring your best friends or the Guides and Scouts you work with. But come.


Before I came to volunteer at Our Chalet, I was a student; I had finished my Masters degree and was searching for a change. In grade three I can distinctly remember declaring to my friends that I was saving every penny for a trip to Europe. Well, I did save all of it, but the summer I turned 18 came and went, and it wasn’t practical to travel. Seven years later, with two degrees, I still didn’t feel satisfied. It turns out seven years of trying to turn into an adult, with a major death in the family, a major break up, and being at a complete loss of what I wanted to do with my life, I was due for a quarter life crisis.


Luckily, I jokingly say I am spending my quarter life crisis as a Spring Vollie at Our Chalet. In the 20 days of travelling before I arrived at Our Chalet with a best friend, I realized I was running away from my problems. But, as I stood in the Horseshoe at Opening Ceremony and a quote from Ida Von Herrenschwand was read “ No. Guiding is not just escape, something like a holiday.“ a little voice in my head wondered what I was in for. Little did I know, you can’t run from those things, they catch up to you, in this case they caught up to me in this beautiful corner of the world.

mk pie

The irony doesn’t escape me that many of the things that I needed to improve on, things I was running from, whether bad habits from relationships or poor life skills, I seem to be tackling head on. That lazy person in the relationship, who wouldn’t cook, clean or do her own laundry? That was me. But now I can cook for 80+, clean like a machine and do what seems an endless amount of laundry every day. And you know what? I don’t mind at all. In fact I take great pride in my hard work. That person who was broken down from years of wondering about her self-worth and required constant affirmation from others? Again that was me. But now I can look in the mirror, or climb the Chalet hill, or hike from Adelboden to Thun (46 km!) and realize I am worth something, and I don’t need someone else to tell me that. I do deserve love, I do deserve happiness and its up to me to find it. But I do owe thanks to the people around me, both staff and guests that affirm those things and support us Vollies. In turn I make sure they receive the same validation and respect as well.

Sy mk m

Our Chalet is truly the perfect combination of peace for your soul and adventure. It is a place to admire the beauty of nature, but also push yourself outside of your comfort zone. It is a place to explore yourself, break yourself down, and build yourself up into a better person. This isn’t just a holiday. Visiting Our Chalet is what you make of it, and I hope you do come. I hope on your mountain hike you bask in the glory of this beautiful world and realize you are beautiful too. I hope as you explore another culture you realize the uniqueness of your own. I hope as you challenge yourself physically and mentally you realize how special you are, how valuable our world is, and how important your story is.

mk v ch

Seriously, you need to come here.

Melissa ‘MK’ Kohlman
Our Chalet Assistant – Spring 2015

STAFF: International Day of Happiness – Bethanie (UK)


Friday 20th March is International day of Happiness, a day dedicated by the UN to improving and celebrating people’s happiness globally. So we decided to make the day as happy as possible. We started off with chocolate in Morning Meeting (which makes everything better), listened to ‘happy music’ while washing up in the kitchen, and in the afternoon, we had a workshop led by Victoria (the marketing and communication intern) about happiness. We learnt about the ‘Action for Happiness Campaign’ which is a movement which “helps people take practical action to improve mental well being and to create a happier and more caring society.” They have some key points on how to lead a happier life, and we did activities to learn about each one.

10 Keys to Happier Living (and how we can achieve them at the Chalet and in real life)

    • Giving – doing things for others makes us happy! Whether it’s making your friend a birthday cake, or even just helping somebody carry laundry upstairs, even the smallest things count!
    • Relating – spend time with people. Sit with guests at dinner, or have evening chats with your friends that last long into the night.Social isolation causes as many early deaths as smoking. And the loneliness epidemic is twice as deadly as obesity!
    • Exercising – Walk the chalet hill every time you need something from town. Climb mountains, splash in a river, ski, sledge, dance!

    • Appreciating – Take some time out of your day to look at nature. It’s easier for me, living in the mountains, but even if you live in the city, take the time to count the spots on a ladybird, the petals on a buttercup. Notice the world you live in – it’s beautiful.
    • Trying out – even if you’ve left school, keep learning new things! I skied my first ever blue run, which was the most terrifying thing ever. I’m attempting to communicate in Swiss German more, and I learned that if you want to make egg mayo salad, you most defiantly do not try to microwave eggs!

      (Editors note: Bethanie was attempting to make an egg mayo by making scrambled eggs, here it sounds like she meant microwaving whole eggs in case you were concerned…)

  • Direction  – This one is about looking forward to things. It’s great to live in the moment, but by thinking about what you want in life, you feel more secure and have a greater sense of purpose. For example, I sorted my student finance, and have been thinking more about university, and what I might want to do after.
  • Resilience – Life is hard – it can be stressful and sometimes all you want to do is stay in bed. But finding ways to cope can really improve your happiness. Talking to people, going for walks, keeping a diary, cuddling a kitten.
  • Emotion – Trying to be optimistic, and letting yourself feel positive emotions has been shown to have long term effects on your health. If somebody compliments you – accept it. Don’t try to brush it off or make yourself seem bad. Feel proud of yourself, because you’re an amazing person!
  • Acceptance – In society, and especially at school, we are always told to better ourselves. Get an A*? Resit for 100% Have a really good work out at the gym? You’ll do faster, higher, stronger next time. And although it is really good to want to push ourselves, at some point you have to be happy with who you are! Be kind to yourself, don’t dwell on your faults and accept yourself!
  • Meaning – Being part of something bigger is great for making you feel less alone. I’m part of WAGGGS, I’m also part of the church, but any organisation counts. Join a charity or a club!

If you want to find out more about the action for happiness campaign, and how we can be more happy check out the website. There’s also some good advice if you’re struggling to be happy for whatever reason…

Don’t forget to look at Bethanie’s own blog

Bethanie Pelloquin
Our Chalet Assistant – Spring 2015

GUESTS: To the memories that last – Irene and co. (UK)


We have just returned to the busy world after having spent a few magical days at ‘Our (beloved) Chalet’, 2 – 6 March 2015. It was my doubtful privilege to lead a motley group of exceedingly senior past leaders, over whom I had absolutely no control at all. We are all still active in Guiding from the South West England Region of UK.

Altogether there are 10 of us; we met for the first time in Sangam 1st March 2011.  8 of us sharing the same dormitory all of a similar age, and 2 youngsters who befriended us or was it vice versa. However we seemed to gel and beginning of March each year since we try and meet somewhere. This year 7 of us who managed to join in our reunion and visit Our Chalet and we are very glad we did, it is Magic. Here are some of their comments:-

From Hazel

The arrival at Our Chalet was a joy, set in the snowy landscape with mountains towering all around. Finding our 4 bedded dormitory and clambering into the top bunk provided an interesting challenge! Eating and sharing evening activities with the young Spring Vollies who were as new as we were at Our Chalet was inspiring and fun, helping us to realise that Guiding will carry on down the generations as it has in the past century. Above all fun and fellowship with Guiding friends unknown to me before Sangam 2011. Delightful. What a great last evening enjoying campfire singing with the Vollies. We had SNOW so we could PLAY….even at our age!”


From Carmen

Our Chalet was just as I imagined it, warm as toast, in such a beautiful setting. I kept thinking I was in a picture postcard. The bunk beds were fine once you finally managed to climb to the top of the ladder and get your leg over the bar…I might have managed the easily 20 years ago! I felt so comfortable there, as if I had been there many times before…or was it just the company of the staff, the volunteers and of course our little group.”

From Ali

The opportunity to go up Tschenten and enjoy the view, food and fun with good guiding friends. Building a snow lady and having a snowball fight at the chalet in deep soft snow was a bonus having had no snow where I live. Reminders to bring home included badges and woggles from the woodcarver and the memories made to last a lifetime.


From Jane

The Chalet was everything I expected and more, the mountains in front of our bedroom window, and the stillness and peace there. We had a wonderful time playing with the snow, and found the staff, so very helpful. We had new volunteers in our week, I think we shocked them in a nice way, and we learnt from them and they from us. This is what our founders and the first committee wanted and it is still happening.

From me, Irene

On our arrival the staff, who were soon to become friends were warm and welcoming, and very helpful throughout our entire stay. On our first evening we met and mingled with all the new Vollies, at the beginning of their 3 month stint, and we wish them all well and hope they get as much enjoyment out of Guiding as we have.

Finally I would like to quote from one of the early Guest Book pages in the Golden Book in the WAGGGS Room. The page was titled ‘Take Time’ and I thought the following lines were as relevant to us all today as they were then.

Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness.

Take time to laugh – it is the music of the soul.

Take time to think, it is the source of power.

Take time to play – it is the secret of perpetual youth.

The memory of  my stay will linger forever as will the sweet voices of Staff and Vollies as they sang their haunting song of farewell:-

And when days have passed, to the memories that last,

Sisters come back again.’

We will return, if only in our hearts.

Irene and co.
Guests 2-6 March 2015

STAFF: Rising to the Challenge – Danielle (UK)


Whilst I’m a Winter vollie I’m completing the Our Chalet staff challenge – and one of the challenges is to write a blog for the website. I thought it would be good to explain what I have done so far for my challenge and the activities I plan to complete.  To earn your Staff Challenge badge you need 80 points from a number of different challenges; each is worth a different number of points from 1 to 5.

IMG_1574 The coldest challenge was standing knee-high in a river for 5 seconds – it was freezing!  There must be something about Our Chalet and water – as I also climbed the fountain in town for a photo. The craziest so far has been tobogganing from the top of Hohliebeweg at night – but it was lots of fun!  I think the strangest has been climbing around one of the dining room tables.  You start on the top of the table, climb underneath and then back on to the top or you can start underneath the table and complete the challenge in reverse. After a lot of advice on where to hold onto and where to put my feet I managed to complete the challenge.


On a more practical note, I cleaned the staff house, cooked fajitas for dinner for 16 people by myself and have also made tiffin (a traditional dish from the UK) and cooked two traditional Swiss dishes of rosti and Alpine macaroni. I visited the recycling centre and can explain the process of what happens at the centre and jumped on the rubbish in the big silver bin. I have developed my Guiding knowledge too – making a poster explaining the current work of WAGGGS and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and my knotting skills by making a pioneering structure (a washing up stand) using 4 different knots and lashings. I am now able to light a campfire using natural materials and only one match. Writing a blog for the website is a first too.


I have enjoyed getting out and about – I made a wish at the magic tree and taken a day trip to Kandersteg to visit the Scout centre with Rachael.  I’ve completed 5 fun things on my days off;  skiing, sledging, visiting other towns and cities such as Thun, geocaching and completing parts of my staff challenge. Adelboden has a large ski resort and I have had the opportunity to ski a number of blue, red and black runs on my days off. I have hiked to town and back on my own at midnight.

Some other challenges I’ve completed include:  singing  “Happy Birthday” in 3 languages including Spanish, French and Faroese,  learning a fact about Switzerland (, the Swiss didn’t want to use ‘danke’ as ‘thank you’ to prove they weren’t German, but they sounded French when using ‘merci’ so they added ‘vilmal’, a Swiss-German ending to say ‘thank you very much’) and completing 20 press ups and 20 sit ups. I am now able to explain what 5 Swiss hiking/ski signs mean, including the different types (walking trails, snow shoe trails and cross country skiing trails) and the difficulty (hiking, mountain and alpine). I have learnt 10 Swiss German words and read a historical Guiding book called ‘How the Girl Guides won the war’. I enjoyed getting to drive Boris the snow plough! I also introduced the other staff to armpit fudge which is one of my favourite camp activities!


A challenge I still need to complete is to, make a presentation about my season as a vollie at Our Chalet, so that I can show my Rainbows what I have been up to over the past 3 months.

And finally, I have created two personal challenges, choosing to learn 100 Spanish words with the help of Ana – and I still need to master this one! As well as walking down and back up the Chalet hill every day in February!

By the time I’ve completed these, thanks to Our Chalet, I really will have challenged myself at many different levels.

Danielle McIver
Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2014-15

STAFF: The little things (English) – Ana (ARG)


Dear Friends of Our Chalet:

Today I want to share with you my experience as a volunteer in the centre. It’s not an easy job, but I’ll try to summarize in 600 words what I’ve done in these months.

Arriving at Our Chalet was like opening the doors of a new world. After 20 hours of planes, trains, waiting rooms and buses, I got to a small village high in the Alps, with its shiny snow and its chalets scattered around the valley. From that moment, there wasn’t a day in which I did not discover something new. I’m not talking about great scientific discoveries, just little things, simple but different from what I’ve lived up to now.


The first day, for instance, I got surprised by the crunchy noise of snow when you step on it; I also learnt that my new home in the mountains was surrounded by squirrels and moles, no more cows or plain pampa around me.

With time I got to know not only the place but also its people. And here I have to make a difference between two groups of people: the Swiss, and my workmates, a combination of diverse nationalities. Running the risk of saying nothing new, I would say that Swiss people are extremely respectful, nice and peaceful, all the time willing to help a lost “paisa” like me. I always say that my orientation skills are rather scarce, but here that was never a problem. I’ve asked where I was, where I was going and which platform was correct thousands of times and each time there was a kind person trying to help me.

Now, speaking of the second group, the staff, I should say we are a great team that after the passing of hours and the shared work, living under the same roof, makes up a big family. Each one has something different to share from their country, their food, their songs, their history, and together, we build a special lifestyle that lasts only three months. Then, it will be renewed by new volunteers, new stories and new cultures, all different and special at the same time, tied by something in common: our Law and our Guide Promise.


Being in Our Chalet not only opened the borders of Guiding to me, but also the doors of Europe, a distant and ancient continent for us, Latin-Americans. From my new little village in the Alps, I made the most of my days off and travelled to “la bella Italia”, my grandfather and my great-grandparents’ land, who decided to cross the ocean and look for new dreams far away from the war, like many other Europeans.

To this travelling list to neighbouring lands, I added Paris and London, key cities in many of the texts I read when I was studying, Zurich, Bern, Geneva and Basel, some of the most important Swiss cities, and a short trip to Germany, too.

Over these months my mates and I have also put lots of energy on our Staff Challenge. Some of you might wonder what this is, here’s the explanation: Lord Baden-Powell stated that we always have to venture, learn new things, and run new risks. Following this idea, we have a list of challenges to fulfil to get points and receive the great prize!!! (A badge we don’t even know). However, maybe because Baden-Powell suggested it, maybe because we want to see who gets more points, we all set off after the same objective; selecting challenges that suit are possibilities. I want to share with you my mate and friend Danielle’s personal challenge: learn and memorize 100 words in Spanish, including useful phrases to introduce herself, order food at a restaurant and ask for help in case she gets lost.


After many classes in the Spanish workshop, I felt really proud when, two days ago, Danielle went to do a check-in of two guests who arrived late. After some minutes, she came back, really excited, telling me that though they spoke English to her, she heard them talking in Spanish between them, and speaking about “la cuenta” – the bill. The lovely way in which she pronounces “la cuenta, por favor” and the effort she puts into her challenge are priceless.

I am thankful for memories like these, for laughter and knowing looks, for learning new things, for surprises and new people in my life. I am thankful for having the opportunity to live this experience, totally advisable for a Guide.

To each person in my new family in the Alps:
Charlotte, Rachael, Danielle, Sarah S, Sarah W, Mel, Victoria, Chloe, Katrina, Megan, Nikki, Byron, Migue, Jen, Mara, Tanya and Don…

A huge ‘thank you’, for being part of this adventure and worrying every time you thought I was lost in the snow. ☺

Be prepared!

Ana Cimarosti
Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2014-15

STAFF: Son aquellas pequeñas cosas (Español) – Ana (ARG)


Queridos amigos de Our Chalet:

Hoy quiero compartir con ustedes mi experiencia como voluntaria en el centro. No es tarea fácil, pero voy a tratar de resumir en 600 palabras lo que he vivido en estos meses.

Mi llegada a Our Chalet fue cómo abrir las puertas de un nuevo mundo. Llegué con mi valija después de un viaje de 20 horas entre aviones, esperas, trenes y colectivos, a un pueblito en lo alto de los Alpes, con su nieve brillante y sus chalecitos desparramados por el valle. A partir de ese momento no pasó un solo día sin que descubriera algo nuevo. No digo grandes descubrimientos científicos, simplemente pequeñas cosas, sencillas pero distintas a lo que he vivido a lo largo de mi vida.


El primer día, por ejemplo, me sorprendí con el ruido crujiente que produce la nieve al pisarla; también supe que mi nuevo hogar en las montañas estaba rodeado de topos y ardillas, ya no más vacas ni pampa a mi alrededor.

Con el correr del tiempo fui conociendo no solo el lugar, sino también su gente. Y aquí tengo que nombrar dos categorías, la gente de Suiza, y mis compañeros de trabajo, una mezcla peculiar de nacionalidades. Corriendo el riesgo de no contar nada novedoso, podría decir que la gente suiza es extremadamente respetuosa, agradable, y tranquila, en todo momento dispuestos a ayudar a una “paisa” perdida como yo. Siempre digo que mis habilidades de orientación son bastante escasas, pero aquí eso nunca fue un problema. He preguntado dónde estaba, a donde iba y cuál era mi plataforma de tren miles y miles de veces y siempre hubo una persona amable tratando de correr en mi auxilio.

Ahora bien, hablando del staff, he de decir que somos un gran equipo, que con el paso de las horas y el trabajo compartido, y cobijados bajo un mismo techo, conformamos una gran familia. Cada cual aporta algo distinto que trajo de su país, su comida, sus canciones, su historia, y juntos creamos este singular estilo de vida que dura tan solo tres meses, y luego se refresca con nuevas voluntarias, nuevas historias y nuevas culturas, todas disímiles y a la vez especiales, unidas por un lazo común: nuestra Ley y nuestra Promesa Guía.


El estar en Our Chalet no solo abrió las fronteras del Guidismo para mí, sino también las puertas de Europa, ese continente, para nosotros, los latinoamericanos, tan antiguo y lejano. Desde mi pequeño pueblito en los Alpes y aprovechando los días libres, me largué a conocer un poquito de la bella Italia, la tierra de mi abuelo y mis bisabuelos, quienes como tantas familias de inmigrantes europeos decidieron cruzar el océano en busca de nuevos sueños lejos de la guerra.

Y a la lista de viajecitos relámpago a tierras vecinas, se sumaron Londres y Paris, protagonistas de tantos textos leídos durante mis estudios, Zurich, Berna, Ginebra, y Basilea, las ciudades más importantes Suiza, y también una escapada a Alemania.

En estos meses, mis compañeras y yo hemos invertido mucha energía en el Desafío del Staff. Algunos se preguntarán de qué se trata, he aquí la explicación. Lord Baden-Powell sostenía que siempre debemos aventurarnos, aprender nuevas cosas, correr nuevos riegos. Siguiendo esta idea, dentro del staff tenemos una lista de desafíos a cumplir, y con ellos juntamos puntos para llegar al gran premio: una insignia que nunca vimos!!! En fin, ya sea porque lo sugirió Baden-Powell, o porque queremos competir a ver quién suma más puntos, todas nos lanzamos tras el mismo objetivo, eligiendo retos a la medida de nuestras posibilidades. Comparto con ustedes el desafío personal de mi compañera y amiga británica, Danielle: aprender y memorizar 100 palabras en español, incluyendo frases útiles para presentarse, ordenar comida en un restaurant y pedir ayuda en caso de perderse.


Después de unas cuantas clases en el tallercito de español, me llené de orgullo cuando hace unos días, Danielle fue a atender dos huéspedes que llegaron tarde y tenían que hacer el check-in. Unos minutos más tarde vuelve, feliz, contándome que aunque le hablaron todo el tiempo en inglés, entendió que entre ellos hablaban en español sobre “la cuenta”. El tonito simpático con que dice “la cuenta, por favor” y el empeño que pone en su desafío son impagables.

Por recuerdos como estos, risas y miradas cómplices, aprendizajes, sorpresas y personas nuevas en mi vida, agradezco haber tenido la oportunidad de vivir esta experiencia, absolutamente recomendable para un Guía.
A cada una de las personas en mi nueva familia en los Alpes:
Charlotte, Rachael, Danielle, Sarah S, Sarah W, Mel, Victoria, Chloe, Katrina, Megan, Nikki, Byron, Migue, Jen, Mara, Tanya y Don…

Un enorme GRACIAS por formar parte de esta aventura y preocuparse cada vez que pensaban que estaba perdida en la nieve. ☺


Ana Cimarosti (ARG)
Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2014-2015

STAFF: 6 Weeks In – Sarah (Aus)


The snow is coming down!…..Finally! 

winter vollies   What a start to a season we have had with warm weather and sunshine to match. Our six weeks at Our Chalet so far have been filled with Christmas and New Years celebrations that kept us both excited and on our toes with many guests from all over the world coming to join in on the Christmas cheer!

Despite the lack of snow and lush green mountains surrounding us I decided to ski Christmas Eve and had a ball on the thin layer of snow that did somehow coat the runs of the Adeboden ski area.

Christmas Eve was a magical night starting with a huge Christmas dinner followed by a talent show of various cultural performances and Christmas carols. The dining hall was filled with enthusiasm as the Australian ‘Von Trapp’ family visiting us performed the 12 days of Christmas Aussie style…5 KANGAROOS!

We lit the nikki byron brassChristmas tree in the fireplace and sung more carols before heading off to Church or enjoying a reading of The Christmas Carol in the T-bar downstairs.

Santa Claus must of had difficulty getting to us this year due to the lack of snow however he managed to find all the children staying at Our Chalet evidenced by their showcase of new toys at brunch on Christmas day. Brunch was huge as we had 46 guests over the Christmas period, I cooked 100 eggs and we still managed to run out!

We had only a brief period DSC07514of time to recover after our Christmas celebrations before our next lot of guests arrived to stay with us over the New Year, we were both exhausted and excited!

At the Chalet we try and incorporate as many traditions as we can from our diverse range cultures brought by our guests, Christmas and New Years Eve proved to be perfect example of this in action. One new tradition that I experienced this year was the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes on the chime of midnight for good luck in the coming year. Megan, our Kitchen Coordinator proved to us she could fit 12 grapes in her mouth at once!


The very bright full moon lit our path through the snow to the magic tree on New Years Eve when we snow-shoed with guests as part of our evening program. It was a beautifully still night and the guests were so friendly and enthusiastic about joining in on the fun. We also had a campfire to close the night and take us through to the New Year. Sharing reflections and our best moments of 2014 was included in our campfire to fit with our theme of the New Year. At midnight we all gathered by the flagpole to watch the stunning display of Adelboden fireworks in town. Our Chalet’s perfect hillside location gave us the best spot in town.


The Christmas period is in my opinion a fantastic time to visit Our Chalet, you will feel right at home with our traditional family style dinner and friendly atmosphere and enjoy all the joy and activities that come with the snow of the winter season!

We are all currently recovering from the busy festive season and praying for more snow! I am hoping that in the next few weeks I can get in some awesome skiing days with the other vollies and enjoy many more random act of fun….

Tonight we are going to have a party and sleep in a tent in the snow!!

Sarah Schooley (Aus)
Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2014-2015