My experience at Our Chalet has been an amazing journey during which I had the opportunity to try new things and meet new people. I have always wanted to travel abroad and since attending university, I have wanted to get back involved with Girl Scouting. In the days leading up to my flight to Zurich, the thought crossed my mind of what I was about to do: travel to a foreign country and live and work with strangers that I didn’t know at the time.
At first the thought of this was daunting but I knew that it was going to be an adventure and that I was ready for whatever the Chalet life had in store for me. But once I finally arrived at the Chalet, all of the other volunteers and staff were friendly and I knew that I had made the correct choice in coming.
Here at the Chalet, I have pushed myself beyond my comfort zone. I come from the rolling hills of Massachusetts where there are no mountains. My family and I used to hike up Mount Holyoke, a mere 285 meters, each year.
However at Our Chalet I fell in love with the mountains and used every chance I could to hike to a peak. I love the Elsighorn peak and the view is magnificent because both valleys are visible and Lake Thunersee. I also had the opportunity to see the sunrise from Bunderspitz which was amazing as the mountains lit up one by one throughout the valleys (Engsligen and Kandersteg valleys).
I am afraid of heights but I push myself each time to take part in the adventure park…I even jumped off of a bridge and I got my chance to zipline for the first time which I have wanted to do for years. My favourite part of programme though is abseiling into the gorge. The first time I abseiled into the gorge, it took me forever and I was so scared (the rain didn’t help either). If you saw me abseil now you would never know.
While on Guest Services I learned how to clean toilets and other jobs which I had not done much at home. Though there was always a list of jobs each day my favourite job was definitely Common Areas from the first training session.
Also, on Guest Services I helped out in the kitchen and there were two times where I got to be the Kitchen Coordinator. I am an inexperienced cook (yet an experienced baker haha) but even though I always felt that I was on a cooking show when I was Kitchen Coordinator, the food was cooked, served and liked by the guests who ate it.
My favourite part of Guest Services was giving tours during the day. I have always wanted to be a tour guide and this was my first chance.
Programme is definitely my favourite part of being a volunteer because I have the opportunity to do more adventurous things and interact with the guests. I now have a renewed love of the outdoors especially the hiking and I will miss the mountains when I leave.
I have learned the power of international friendship. I live, and work with 11 other girls from around the world though most of us are from different parts of the USA. I have gotten to know each person over the course of three months and though we have had our squabbles with each other, at the end of the day we are still friends. We live and work together which can be overwhelming at times but there is always someone who will want to hang out with you or go somewhere with you…you are never bored. Even after long work days, we still make time to spend together. I will miss my friends, the vollies and staff, when I return back to my life in MA.
I expected the unexpected but I found amazing friends, learned new skills and gained a new confidence.
Paige Shea (USA)
Summer Volunteer 2012