Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadians! My name is Ashley and I am a Volunteer for the Autumn season. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I want to take the time to look back on all of the things that I am thankful for and share some of the great quality time I’ve spent with my new found Guiding family in the Swiss Alps.
Guiding has been a big part of my life since I was in Brownies. When I was 7 years old, I learned about the 5 World Centres. At that time in my life I always wanted to visit the Centres, but never thought that day would come. At of the start of this year I got the news that I had been accepted to volunteer at Our Chalet. I was going to Switzerland! I was so excited to experience a new country, meet new people, and see the oldest WAGGGS World Centre. I couldn’t stop talking about my plans for my gap year all spring and summer, but it didn’t actually hit me till I got on the plane. As I arrived to the Chalet very jet lagged and having experienced morning in 4 different time zones, I could already tell that the spirit of Guiding and Scouting burnt so much brighter high up on the Swiss Alps. I was so overjoyed to call Our Chalet home for the coming fall season.
I am thankful for the amazing staff team I get to share my gap year journey with. In such a short amount of time, I have gotten so close with everyone. From a crazy long hike to the Kandersteg International Scout Centre, dinner clean ups with bangers and mash playlists, and sleeping outside under the stars, I have pushed myself in so many ways in my time so far. I can’t believe how fast the time is going since I first stepped foot on the grounds. One of the most amazing and challenging experiences that I have done was a sunrise hike by myself up Tschentenalp. Waking up at 4am and walking in the dark was challenging, don’t get me wrong, but when I got to the top of the Alp, with the sunrise slowly coming over the mountains, I had found “Peace for the soul” as Helen Storrow once said.
This week I hosted a Canadian Thanksgiving high up on the mountains. For the dinner I set out maple leafs for everyone to take the time to write down something that they were thankful for. We all had a lovely time sharing what we were thankful. The best part of this year’s Thanksgiving for me is sharing it with my new Guiding family. Taking a nap after all the amazing food I ate was a close second, but in all seriousness, the warmth I felt in the room was incredible. It’s truly a memory that I will never forget.
So far my time here has been so much fun and one of the best experiences of my life. If you asked me to think of a better way to start my gap year I could try to think of something, but it would take me a very long time. It’s true when they say time flies when you are having fun. With only one month left in the season, I can’t wait to see what crazy fun memories are yet to come.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone from my second home high up on the mountains!
Ashley, Canada – Our Chalet Autumn Volunteer 2018