5 Fun Things To Do In Switzerland! – Poppy (UK)

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When I arrived at Our Chalet to work as an Our Chalet Assistant for the Winter 2016-17 season, I had little idea of all of the exciting adventures that were to come over my 3 month stay here. Both locally in Adelboden and nationally within Switzerland there is a huge range of activities on offer that will suit travellers of any tastes, and listed below are what I think are 5 of the best close by to Our Chalet!

1. Go on a day trip to Lucerne

The Swiss public transport system is very easy to navigate, and I found travelling around using it extremely convenient. One of my favourite places I visited was Lucerne, which is around 2.5 hours from Adelboden by bus and train. When I visited, the Swiss Carnival ‘Fasnacht’ was taking place there, so the city was a riot of parades, marching bands and fancy dress alongside the historical sites such as the Kapellbrücke and the Lion Monument.

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 2. Take a gondola up a mountain

According to the Our Chalet song lyrics, the Chalet is located ‘High up, high on the mountain’, but if you want to get even higher up the mountains, the Chalet lies close to the Adelboden Oey gondola station, from which you can go up the mountain Silleren. When you reach the top, you can relax by enjoying the amazing views, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can even challenge yourself to do the Climbing Tower high ropes course – just make sure you have a head for heights or some encouraging friends to cheer you on!

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3. Skiing

I couldn’t mention the mountains without giving a nod to my favourite winter sport: skiing. The Adelboden-Lenk ski region has over 210km of pistes, and includes everything from the easiest blue runs for beginners to the black Ski World Cup run on Chuenisbärgli to test even the most experienced skiers – although I’ve not dared to do the World Cup piste in my time here, I do love to watch people whizzing down it at speed from the blue and red runs that intersect it.

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4. Go on a tour at Kandersteg International Scout Centre17238396_925943764207433_1760207782_n

Most of our guests here at Our Chalet come from Guiding and Scouting backgrounds, and are excited to be visiting a WAGGGS World Centre for the first time – but did you know that just over the mountain tops in the neighbouring valley lies another centre of international scouting? Run by the World Organisation of the Scout Movement, KISC is about an hour away from Our Chalet using public transport. I went on a tour there with my fellow staff members from the Chalet and found that it was oddly familiar yet also so different to Our Chalet. All in all, it was a really cool experience, and I would certainly recommend it if you’re interested in learning more about international Scouting.

5. Experience Swiss Christmas Traditions

From going to Christmas markets in Bern, to being part of Our Chalet’s Neighbours’ Christmas Celebration, I really got to experience what an authentic Swiss Christmas is all about during my time as a winter volunteer. I think my favourite Swiss Christmastime tradition is also the one that I found the most unusual: having real life candles on the Christmas tree! Although this might be considered a big fire safety hazard by some, putting lit candles on your Christmas tree is the norm in much of Switzerland, and it certainly is very pretty!

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My Little Adventure as a Winter Volunteer – Najwa (Malaysia)

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If you were to ask me what would be my biggest fear spending 3 months living at Our Chalet Switzerland, no doubt it would definitely be the snow. Coming from Malaysia which has a hot and humid weather throughout the year, snowy weather is definitely something new for me. It’s now been a month living here in Our Chalet and I am proud to say that cold weather is no longer a fear of mine. In fact, I am actually loving the snow and really can’t wait to try skiing and sledging!

Flashback to the first few days of my arrival in Our Chalet, I still remember the excitement we had when Tanya (Our World Centre Manager) passed us a map to Adelboden town. I n-map-readinghave got to admit that map reading is definitely something I am not used to since where I come from which is Kuala Lumpur, everything is so near to each other, hence a map is not really needed. Growing up as a city girl, it also took me quite a while to adapt living in Adelboden mainly due to the different geographical layout of Adelboden and Kuala Lumpur. However, I think that making the decision to live in Our Chalet is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made in life. Ever since I came here, I have tried so many new things that I would never thought I would do such as cooking real meals and making tinders for the fire.
Yes, cooking! It n-ricemay sound weird that I tried cooking but back in Malaysia we have 24/7 food stalls with such reasonable prices thus I do not really cook as the stalls or restaurants sell variety of food and they are easily accessible. But here in Our Chalet, each of the volunteers will surely be assigned to do dinner preparation where cooking is indeed required. Frankly, since being a volunteer here I now realised that I do enjoy cooking a lot and I have started to explore and try cooking many dishes be it Swiss meals or Asian meals.

Nonetheless, the Christmas celebration
with our dear neighbours and friends is one that I would cherish forever.
Having the chance to celebrate Christmas with the local people was n-christmasn-decorating-tree
such a great experience as we got the chance to mingle and get to know more about the Swiss culture on celebrating Christmas. The one thing that I truly enjoy experiencing this festive season would be collecting pine cones as one of the many Christmas decorations besides decorating the Christmas tree with little cute ornaments from around the world.

Above all, I am really looking forward to spending time with all my new friends here from around the globe. Having the chance to know people from countries like Argentina, Ukraine, UK, America, Finland, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Canada simultaneously has given me the opportunity to know more about their countries. Travelling around Switzerland also is at the top in my to-do list for the next 2 months. So far I have visited Bern, Lugano and Zurich during my days off and Lugano is by far my favourite place here in Switzerland. Hopefully, I shall be able to explore Geneva and Lucern in the near future especially going to the Kapellbrucke which has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Living here at Our Chalet is indeed an opportunity of a lifetime and I would certainly recommend all the girls out there to unleash your potential here by giving back at Our Chalet.n-team-pic

Najwa Puteri Nur, Our Chalet Assistant, Winter 2016/17

Discovering the Magic of Our Chalet – Sarah (USA)

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A year ago I arrived at Our Chalet, eager to start in a new role as Programme Coordinator, after falling in love with this place as a volunteer. Even though I had spent a couple wonderful months here previously, nothing could have prepared me for what I have experienced since my return. This year has been unbelievable; full of adventures and new challenges. I learned to cross country ski, made dozens of igloos (which was very strange for this Florida girl), rafted with a group of hilarious teens, went canyoning, met hundreds of very cute cows, let a llama chew on me, spent a few nights cuddled above a cow barn with my co-workers, climbed countless mountains, turned Skippy Storrow (arguably my favorite creature here) into a superhero, watched the sunrise over the Alps, ice skated on a lake, and ate more cheese and chocolate than I would like to admit.

My friend Jenn always says she feels like her best self here at the chalet. I don’t think I ever understood how a place could have that kind of effect on a human until I experienced it for myself. I find that the person I am at the chalet is kinder, more patient, more adventurous, and stronger than the person I am anywhere else.  It not just in myself that I this; it seems like no one leaves the chalet unchanged. I’ve watched girls push themselves to try things they never thought they could do, from hiking the peak of a mountain to watch the sunrise, snow tubing down an Alp, or abseiling into a gorge. I’ve seen leaders leave filled with pride after watching their groups take on every challenge side by side. I’ve been inspired by my chalet family who all have left their homes and families to share and learn from one another. Our Chalet has this uncanny ability to challenge each person to discover their potential.

I joke that at the chalet you are never really alone. While at times that can be the most frustrating feeling, it has become one of my favorite things about living here; it is constantly teaming with life. I’ve shared the staff house with 5 different seasons of vollies, and even though chaos reigns 90% of the time, I love the constant stream of people coming through every door and the laughter the always follows. I have met some of the most amazing women who support each other through every challenge and are always there to celebrate any win (even if that win is staying awake for karaoke in town). Our Chalet is my home and I am so glad I get to share it with all these crazy humans.

Guests regularly ask if I get tired; tired of the views, tired of the people, tired of the same adventures week after week. My answer is always the same: how could I? While in theory many days are the same (because the route up a mountain rarely changes), in reality no two days are ever are. The light on the mountains and valleys is always changing, each group brings new energy, and every single person who enters through the chalet doors changes it in some way. How can a person tire of these adventures?

This year, as we celebrate the 85th birthday of this amazing place, I can’t help but think of those who have come before me. What were their experiences like? Did they share the same sense of wonder and excitement upon arriving? Did they create memories filled with a sense of pride that they did things they never thought they were capable of? Did the relationships they began here last for years to come? How did Our Chalet change their life?

Before I came here I was told that there was something magical in the air that I would never be able to forget, and I wouldn’t agree more. Our Chalet has forever changed me and continues to make me the person I want to be, and I can’t wait to see what my future here holds.

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Sarah Wach – Programme Co-ordinator January 2015 to present

Life as a Guest Services Intern – Celia (Australia)

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Hi I’m Celia from Canberra, Australia and I am the Autumn 2016 Guest Services Intern.

When I was first applying for the Autumn Guest Services ocautumn2016_20160902_02-resizedIntern position here at Our Chalet, I was told by many people that you can’t really describe an average day at Our Chalet. Within the first two weeks of being here, I really understood what they meant.

Each of the volunteers and interns has specific jobs that they do on a regular basis. For example, as the Guest Services Intern, I am responsible for running reception at rostered times. I also help to supervise the volunteers on their Guest Services days, help with completing spreadsheets for reports and help to run the shop. On top of these duties, I also regularly get the opportunity to work on personal projects and plan social events for the staff.

One of my most eventful days so far was during my training: The morning began with breakfast with my fellow Autumn volunteers in the staff house, Stockli, followed by a sad farewell to my Summer predecessor who we ‘sang down the hill’ (a Chalet tradition). This was followed by the daily staff meeting where we find out about the jobs for the day and any arrivals or departures.

Photo 21-9-16, 12 54 51 pm.jpgAfter that, I had one of my final training sessions with the Marketing and Communications Intern, Beth and the Head of Guest Operations, Nikki, on Health and
Safety at Our Chalet. As we chatted about lifting techniques and risk management, we started to hear the clanging of bells which was growing louder and louder. This could only mean one thing…Cows! I was so excited to find out that there was a herd of cows coming our way, on their way down the mountain for winter. We all ran outside and watched them passing in front of the Chalet in traditional floral headdresses and with huge ceremonial bells around their necks.

After that excitement we headed back inside to finish the training session, but had another happy interruption with the delivery of delicious fresh pancakes for morning tea. After the pancakes it was back to work, straightening things out in the shop and restocking products that were running low. I also replied to some emails, drew up a schedule for the month and wrote some notes on my staff challenge.

After lunch I had my first driving practice, 2016-10-21 11.44.02.jpgwhich turned out to be quite eventful as I struggled with driving on the right hand side of the road and tried to remember that the gear stick and indicators were on the wrong sides. We drove through the valley and past some beautiful sites including the second
highest waterfall in Switzerland, Engstligenfalle. On the way back up to Our Chalet we managed to pick up some staff members who had been out on an overnight hike, saving them the walk back up the mountainside.

Then, after a couple of hours working in reception and dinner with the guests in the dining hall, the other Autumn Vollies and I relaxed in the staff house and watched a movie together before heading off to bed.

IMG_8653.JPGThat night however, I was on duty which meant that I was responsible for answering the duty phone if any guests need assistance overnight and so had to be prepared for a call at any time. Although it hardly ever rings, I got a call at 3am when a guest arrived earlier than anticipated to check-in. I checked her in and showed her to her room before crashing back into bed.

So, as you can see, while the Guest Services Intern has many standard jobs to do, you can never really predict what you might get up to from day to day!

Celia Vaughan – Guest Services Intern, Autumn 2016

The most exciting 26 hours of my life – Lisa (Austria)

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image2It was 5:20am and my alarm rang. Super excited for the day but quite tired I pulled on my hiking clothes grabbed a breakfast on the go and hopped into the Our Chalet van. The van was full of half-asleep vollies, interns and staff from 7 different countries. We drove to Engstligenalp where we caught the first Gondola up at 6am, on top it felt as cold as the arctic winter. We grabbed our hats and gloves and prepared ourselves for the wait for the cows! It was Alpabzug and I was crazy enough to stand up on an Alp before sunrise. One herd after the other passed us; all of us were trying to get the best shots in. After most of our group left to make it to work on time, Beth from Wales and me, Lisa from Austria, chose a calm herd and we tagged along to head down to the bottom!

The hike down Engstligen is well known for steep steps and windy paths down. So there we were in the back of a cow herd. It seemed as if the cows had no trouble at all descending to the bottom. And there we were – out of breath and ready for a break. There was only one problem, not only was there a herd in front of us but also already behind us. We tried to stay calm looking for an escape. After we finally found a corner to hide / get out of the way of the coming cows, we could finally catch our breaths. The farmers jumped down like mountain goats, the cows ran down without a problem and we, not knowing if we make it down alive or if we would end up being hit be the next herd. After the herd has passed we decide to start again to gain some time to the next herd. One more time we had to hide behind a bench to let a herd pass because we were just not fast enough. After 1:10hr we eventually made it to the bottom of the gondola station. Finally we could catch our breaths again and starting laughing at our ridiculous idea to hike down a mountain in between 500 cows.
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We then decided to walk all the way back to Our Chalet, we managed to get back by 9:40, just as all the staff that were working that day came out of morning meeting. As we only had a quick breakfast before we left and we already had walked 15.000 steps we decided on a big breakfast for the day before we dropped onto the sofa and watched a movie.

During the afternoon, after my nap, my heart started to beat faster and faster. I started to run around our staff house searching all my hiking equipment. I made packing lists and kept asking all the vollies if I was well-equipped for the Bunderspitz hike. As my backpack was completely full I considered myself ready. I quickly decided my five layers of clothing proved to be the right choice. During dinner my excitement level was raising constantly. It probably did not help that I had two big servings of apple crumble and custard – I get hyperactive with too much sugar in my blood.

19:30 the program bell rings and Jenn and I gather with the guests to check equipment and the plan for the evening/night. And off we are. We have a group of 5 inspiring young women from 5 different countries with us as well as Jackie, an autumn vollie from the US.

After the first hour we finally have to turn on our head lamps as it was pretty dark by now as we hiked through the woods. My heart was beating heavily and I was so curious for everything to come. When Jenn announced that we were about 20mins away from our sleeping spot I was surprised by how quickly we had made it to that point. When we 2arrived at the Cheesemakers-Hut, the farmer welcomed us with hot chocolate. We finished it fast and chatted a bit before we headed to the shed where the mattresses were. Bundled up in sheets and wool blankets, hats and fluffy socks everyone fell asleep fast, except me of course. I laid there for what felt hours trying to get comfortable but when I am excited I just can’t sleep.

At 3:15 when the alarm rang I felt like a just have fallen asleep – but oh well, we were about to climb a peak in the dark!!! Half asleep I put on all my layers of clothing, tied my shoes and went brush my teeth and wash my face. At 3:45 we were off, heading closer to the peak. Our next destination was a cow hut – our breakfast spot.

Looking back to this 1:30hrs hike now, I cannot really recall the first 30mins, I guess I was sleepwalking. The hike did not feel challenging at all because I just could not see a thing and only went step after step. At our breakfast spot we enjoyed our packed lunch, but even better was the sky full of stars. It was such a clear night we could even see the Milky Way. So we were sitting there and I slowly started to realise that this is probably not the only magical moment of the morning. As it got colder and colder we started heading 1towards the peak again to keep our bodies moving. The dawn slowly broke the darkness and we could finally turn off our head lamps. And then it was only 30mins towards the peak, my excitement rose and rose and the last steps felt like an accomplishment. There we were on top of Bunderspitz on 2546m waiting for the sunrise. We put on our last layers of clothing and ate the last bit of our breakfast before we got ready to see a magical moment.

image1When the sun rose over Eiger and Jungfrau I felt accomplished and thankful. I would have not imagined myself on top of a mountain watching such a beautiful sunrise with inspiring people around the world. I felt content and blessed to have sat there.

Looking back those were the most amazing 26hrs so far of my internship here at Our Chalet. Even though I was exhausted for the whole next day and a slight cold for the next week I would do both, the Alpabzug Hike with cows and the Bunderspitz overnight hike again, anytime, because those are the once in a lifetime experience that make the stay at Our Chalet so special.

Lisa Pfeiffer – Programme Intern, Autumn 2016

Get to know the Summer Vollies 2016 – Liv (Australia)

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Hi! I’m Liv, from Australia, and I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be an Our Chalet Summer Assistant in 2016! Sadly, Summer has come to an end, and so has my time at the Chalet. I have done so many amazing things that I never thought I’d be able to do. I’ve hiked mountains, cooked meals for well over 80 people, and visited many places, all whilst living in the most beautiful place in the world! The thing that has impacted me most though, are the people that I have been lucky enough to call friends and work-mates for the past three months, my fellow volunteers! Not only are they unique and incredible people, but they have been like family to me at my time at the Chalet.

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Get to know my friends : The Vollies

Mary Ofure (Ofure means peace), (26) is from Nigeria and at home she is a teacher.

She has an infectious laugh and a wicked sense of humour. Mary is an amazing story teller and I have spent many nights listening to her stories and laughing so hard that I’ve started crying. She is also very caring and thoughtful and I have often joked that she was like my ‘Chalet Mum’.

Megan (19) is from Canada and at home she is studying bio-chemistry at university.

Megan is caring, hard working, focused, and is fantastic to work with. She is also hilarious, and so easy to get along with. Something you might not know about Megan is that she’s an incredible singer, and one of my fondest memory of her is when she (reluctantly) sang a Grace before dinner, and impressed both guests and staff with her beautiful voice.

Setavya (23) is from Sri-Lanka and at home she is studying business in university in India.

She has the most beautiful smile and her bright, positive personality lights up every room she is in. Seth (her Chalet nickname) is incredibly intelligent and hard-working. She is so friendly and caring, and is always offering to help. Something you might not know about Seth is that she plays the Oriental Flute, and gave us a performance on International Night.

Laura (18) is from the USA and at home she studying psychology at university.

Laura is outgoing and always smiling. She has a great sense of humour and loves to laugh. She is great to work with because she makes work fun and there’s never a dull moment when she’s around. Something that you might not know about Laura is that she’s studying to become a teacher, and she is amazing at giving directions and helping people.

Virginia (23) is from Mexico and at home, she has just graduated with a degree in business.

 She is so easy to talk to and always knows how to cheer you up and make you smile. She loves to travel and I have been lucky enough to be able to go on many adventures with her. Together we have visited many places including Gruyere (cheese and chocolate!), Bern, Zurich and Basel. I can’t wait to go on more adventures with her in the future.

Chloe (21) is from the USA and is going into her final year at university, studying film.

Chloe is very creative and is amazing at photography and film-making. It has been very handy having her around! As well as being talented, Chloe is very thoughtful and is always smiling and willing to help out. Something you might not know about Chloe is that she is a master Pokemon catcher, and has caught all the Pokemon in the Adelboden valley!

Tinashe (21) is from Malawi and is studying journalism in university.

She is incredibly warm and has an amazing smile. Tinashe also has a great sense of humour and always knows how to make you laugh. Something you might not know about Tinashe is that she is a guest services expert, and is amazing at cleaning dishes, bathrooms and common areas! She has also grown into an amazing leader during her time at the Chalet.

Kelly (19) is from the USA and is studying science at university.

Kelly has an amazing personality and is always positive and ready to help. She always has a smile on her face and is very approachable and easy to talk to. Something you might not know about Kelly is that she knows every campfire song ever written and is never afraid to share them with you!

Lindsay (19) is from the USA and is studying science at university.

Lindsay is incredibly loud and has a great sense of humour. Not only was she my roommate, but she was like a sister to me at the Chalet. She is great at listening, giving advice and making you laugh when you are feeling down. One of my fondest memories of her was when we travelled to Milan together. I can’t wait to have more adventures with her in the future!

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I have had the most unbelievable Summer at Our Chalet, and it wouldn’t have been the same without the incredible staff and volunteers that I have been lucky enough to live and work with. It is hard to leave people who have made somewhere on the other side of the world, far away from where you are from, feel like home.

I just want to say thanks, to each and every one of you, and remember:

‘This is goodnight and not goodbye’.

Olivia Dye – Our Chalet Assistant Summer 2016

Guest : Swiss Challenge fun with Troop 508.

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The following blog is a day by day account (slightly edited for this Chatter page) by the troop of their fun, tribulations and adventures whilst taking part in the Our Chalet Swiss Challenge event 2016.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

The Seed for this trip was planted 7 years ago.
Scene: Thinking Day activity, February 2009, learning about WAGGGS World Centres.
Girls: “Can WE go to Switzerland?”
Leaders: “If you stay in Girl Scouting until you get to high school, we will go to Switzerland.”
[5 years of fundraising and planning]
Flash Forward August 2016:
WE MADE IT!!!!

1. Troop 508 Zurich
Leader Note : So proud of these girls and their commitment and perseverance! And to our troop mates who could not join us, but whose efforts helped us get here, you are with us in spirit!

Day One

Good Morning from Our Chalet! This is one of our first views from Our Chalet. The vistas are breathtaking everywhere you turn! Looking forward to a great day!

7. Mountains day 1

Our first day was onsite day with a BBQ lunch and activities including lighting a campfire Swiss style, environmental issues and recycling.

In the evening the programming was International Night. Each country was asked to give a presentation about their country. We gave a musical performance in our awesome trip T-shirts. We also spoke of the international diversity of the US reflected in our own cultural diversity by giving our heritages that have arrived on our shores in the last 2-4 generations. Then we shared Tootsie Rolls, celebrating their 120th birthday this year, giving the history of this American treat. Afterwards, we had a chance to mingle with the other girls and trade SWAPS (small tokens representing their locale). We had made up tiny bottles of sand from Jones Beach, tied with red, white and blue ribbons and labeled with our troop number and “Long Island, NY”. Then we learned about our new friends’ countries of Canada, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Day Two

Today was our first bus trip. This morning’s programming was at the Schuh Chocolatier in Interlaken, with Sandra the chocolatier. We learned how chocolate is made from the cocoa bean through to the finished products. Then we sampled different kinds of chocolate and bonbons and learned how one becomes a chocolatier! And of course, there was an opportunity to buy chocolates. Not sure if any of it will make it home !

10. Lollipops

The afternoon programme was whitewater rafting on a glacial river in Interlaken. We all donned full wet suits and set off with the able guides. We ran both Level III & Level IV rapids, before ending the run in Lake Brienz.

Tonight’s programme was a Twilight Hike to Bonder Falls. We set out just before sunset for the 1 hour trek up to the Falls.

Unfortunately, our trail was blocked at the last kilometer or so by cows returning home. The views were still spectacular!
We returned to the Chalet by moonlight for a well deserved rest. All will sleep well tonight!!

Day Three

Today was a “Free Day” in that there was no scheduled programming. Our Chalet has a variety of self-guided hikes and the staff were all in agreement that the Engstligen Falls hike was the most rewarding. Given that the hike last night to the Bonder Falls was aborted midway due to bovine traffic, we were all game to try another waterfall hike, especially since the Engstligen Falls are the second largest in Switzerland! We left the Chalet @ 10 am and arrived at the base of the falls just after 12 noon. We ate our packed lunch at a picnic area and then boarded the gondola for a quick ride to the top of the waterfall. We spent a good hour up there taking phenomenal pictures and soaking in the beauty of it all. We returned to the base of the falls and enjoyed an ice cream break before beginning the trek back to Our Chalet. We arrived back at the Chalet @ 5 pm, after taking a short detour to see the “Magic Tree,” part of the Chalet Challenge.


No scheduled programming tonight, so we hung around the Chalet, as tomorrow is another big hiking day.

Day Four

Today (Sunday) was another spectacular, sunny day, with a high of 87 degrees. We hiked up Elsigenalp to a lake. The distance was a little shorter than yesterday at 6 miles, but the elevation and steepness of the trail was more grueling @ the equivalent of 101 flights of stairs. The Chalet staff did an awesome job, leading the group on the ascent. At the top, we were rewarded with a dip in the lake, which was very cold, but refreshing. We are participating in the “Our Chalet Challenge” and one of the requirements was to submerge in a lake or river for 5 seconds. We all completed this element of the challenge, which sounds much easier then it was! We were able relax by the lake for a couple of hours, before catching a gondola back to base and taking the bus back to Our Chalet. We had a prayer service before dinner, as we were unable to get to a Mass for today (or tomorrow for the Solemnity of the Assumption).

27. Fritz and Group

 

Sunday night’s programming was “Swiss Night”. We were treated to an alpenhorn performance by Fritz, who first started coming to the Chalet as a 5 year old, delivering produce, 80 years ago. Then we played Jeopardy with all the other guests, testing our knowledge of Switzerland and Our Chalet. Afterwards we enjoyed a treat of Swiss chocolate fondue!

While we are on the topic of food, a sampling of our meals:
Breakfast: a buffet with cereal, yogurt, fruit and bread (or toast) with jam
Lunch: we pack ham/salami/cheese/tuna or egg sandwiches, with salad, fruit and a snack to eat out and about on our excursions
Dinner: Family style dining with one girl as “runner”. We have had pasta bolognese & carbonara, chilli and rosti (a typical Swiss dish with potatoes – we loved this one!)

Day Five

Is it really possible that each day can be better that the last? We had yet another incredible day of adventure at Our Chalet today! We started off on a 2 hour hike. Our “easiest” hiking day so far. While the distance was about 8 miles, the terrain was mostly “Swiss flat.” Swiss flats are slowly undulating roads or paths, as you meander horizontally across the lower portion of the mountains. After 2 hours, we arrived at the charming Woodcarver’s Shop. Our Chalet has had a relationship with with this family for years, going back 3 generations of woodcarvers. The business collects patches from the different groups who pass through and they tape them to the ceiling. We gave the woodcarver a patch from Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Long Island, NY to commemorate our visit. Afterwards, we had a quick break to sit and enjoy a slice of the most delicious lemon cake from the neighbors who ran a little “cafe.” After that brief respite, we hiked on to a stream for lunch. There in the middle of nowhere, was a covered picnic table where we could enjoy our lunch. We have encountered such tables or benches along all of our hiking paths, an indication of the Swiss’ love and appreciation of the outdoors. After lunch, we headed to the Choleren Gorge for our afternoon activity: abseiling, or as we know it, rapelling. We got into the harnesses and helmets and did a practice run on a little ledge and then climbed partway into the gorge to begin the aerial descent. There were 2 different sections, the first being a 15 meter drop and the second was 40 meters. For much of the descents, we were not able to use our feet against the rock, but were rather rapelling down while suspended in midair. While this activity might have been outside of some of our comfort zones, we all dropped off the platforms without hesitation. “Courageous and Strong,” a point of the Girl Scout Law, were the operative words of the day! We hiked back to the Chalet and had a couple of hours rest before duties and dinner.

Day Six

Today (Tuesday) was an “excursion” day, so there was very little hiking. We took a bus to the base of Niesen, also known as the “Swiss Pyramid.” On the bus ride, we learned about the legend of the Niesen fox. We took the funicular up to the peak at 2336 meters, our highest elevation yet, and were rewarded with breathtaking views of the Jungfrau, as well as the twin lakes of Thun and Brienz on either side of Interlaken. We returned to the base by return funicular and enjoyed our lunch at the lakeside town of Speiz. After lunch, we took a ferry across Lake Thun to the Oberhofen Castle, which was the inspiration for the Disney’s animators when they created the village of Arrandale for the movie “Frozen.” We participated in a scavenger hunt around the castle and explored the grounds. At the end of the afternoon, we returned to Our Chalet by bus. I think the best aspect of the day was traveling with our new friends from Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland group are the same age as us and seem to have the same sense of adventure and fun. We have been paired with this group often and are truly enjoying each other’s company, getting to know one another and learn about life in our respective countries. This is so much of what the Our Chalet experience is supposed to be!

Day Seven

Well, they did it again! The staff and programme here at Our Chalet have provided an even better day than the days so far! Despite setting out on an 1 hour 15 min hike to the Adventure Park in a light drizzle, the skies were clear and the sun was shining by the time we arrived at the park. We hiked up to the morning’s activity of rock climbing, but this was no day trip to Island Rock! We were taught how to find foot holds and hand holds on the rock face and how to belay for one another. We worked in teams of 3 (1 climber and 2 belayers) utilizing 8 different climbing routes on the rock face, so everyone was doing something at the same time, with no standing and waiting. Most of us scaled 3-4 different routes up the wall. After 2 hours of climbing, we then hiked down to main part of the adventure park for lunch.


After our lunch break, we were ready to take on the main portion of the adventure park with zip lining, a high ropes bridge and more abseiling. There were 10 different ziplines that allowed us to zip back and forth across the gorge at all different heights. We spent the afternoon zipping all over place!

Some of the us also took on the high ropes bridge. This bridge is very similar to the rope bridge we do every year on our Greenkill trip, except Greenkill’s bridge is about 6 feet off the creek bed. This rope bridge was about 40 meters is the air!

44. Rope Bridge

The final challenge at the adventure park was abseiling off the bridge. (Please note that this was NOT bungee jumping (a GSNC prohibited activity), despite us telling our leaders we were “jumping off the bridge.”). We stepped off the platform and had a controlled descent. That doesn’t mean it didn’t require a deep breath before taking the plunge!

Tonight we said Goodbye over our final activity of campfire. Goodbye, to the simple peace and beauty of Our Chalet and to the incredible staff. To our new friends, especially those from Northern Ireland, and to the camaraderie that comes from shared challenges and accomplishments. We are leaving this place changed for the better, so blessed and thankful. May all our fellow Girl Guides and Our Chalet staff who shared this adventure with us treasure our shared memories always. We know we will. And until we meet again, auf wiedersehen…..au revoir……arrivederci…….farewell, Adelboden.

48. Campfire