STAFF: I am a different Sam now – Sam (CA)

Standard

My experiences at Our Chalet have challenged me, pushed me and help me grow as a person and as a leader.

I have done things I never thought of doing, or never thought I would have the opportunity to do. My internship here at Our Chalet has been full of fun, challenge, adventure, and family. Every adventure has presented me with some way of learning either about myself, others, or practical experience to take away and use both at home in my guiding as well as in my future aspirations of becoming a Social Worker.

My time at Our Chalet has really reaffirmed to me that my hopes of combining education and social work with outdoor adventure is possible.

I will be able to not only take home my own personal experience here but also the inspirational stories of the girls and young women who have come to Our Chalet and overcome so many obstacles and challenges.

I have been privileged to have the opportunity to help people face their fear of heights, or to push themselves on a hike when they thought they couldn’t go any further and celebrate their successes with them when they’ve accomplished something they never imagined they would or could do. These experiences have taught me about the strength and character of others but also my own abilities to motivate, encourage and support others in a time of need.

Our Chalet is more than just outdoor adventure (although that is one of its best aspects), It is also a community and a family. Our Chalet has made the Guiding movement of 10 million girls and women seem so much bigger than I ever thought it was but also so much closer.

I grew up learning about WAGGGS and the Four World Centres; I even once sent a postcard to Our Chalet when I was nine asking them for information to help me out with a Guide Badge, but I never really gave the world wide aspect of Guiding much thought.

It took a bit of time but having lived with people from nine different countries and having the opportunity to host an international evening with representation of thirty countries and a campfire with members from all five regions of WAGGGS it is now something I will never forget and will make sure I take home with me to Canada to share with my local Guiding Community.

The friendships that are created here at Our Chalet really emphasise the sisterhood of guiding; I will never forget and will stay in touch with my sisters in Rwanda, Ireland, Chile, the UK, Australia, Slovenia, USA, Canada and South Korea, the volunteers, interns and long term staff I have had the opportunity to live, work and learn from over the past four months.

These past four months have been full of friendship and song of international campfires, the fun and adventure of Adelboden’s fastest sledge run, the personal challenge of hiking to a peak, and the joy and peace of watching the sunset from that peak.

It has been rewarding to help others succeed at abseiling in the adventure park and has come with some very cold, but great bonding experiences such as sleeping in the large campfire tent. The sadness of seeing some friends go, but the excitement of preparing to meet the next group of volunteers or guests.

I can honestly look back over the last four months and say that there was not one negative experience. I’m really going to miss this place, the people and waking up every morning to the beauty of Our Chalet.

Advertisements

STAFF: I love my job! – Beckie (UK)

Standard

There are not many jobs where, after finishing the washing up on an evening, you can go and spend a few hours with young women from around the world, learn about their cultures, swap some badges and bracelets and other interesting things, dance some African dance, get a henna tattoo and laugh hysterically at a certain Lebanese girl’s brilliant jokes.

Where is this job you ask? That job, is my job.

Beckie at Helen Storrow Seminar 2013

As I’m drawing to the end of my time here at Our Chalet, this wonderful International Evening with the Helen Storrow Seminar Participants reminds me why I love this place so much.

It is not for the nature, nor the escape. Whilst I love the towering mountains and the peace that surrounds this beautiful place, the true magic here at Our Chalet is the people.

Whether they are guests passing through, or staff you live and work with for months, the international environment and the friendships made are incredible.

There have been some incredible moments here at Our Chalet, from hiking up Elsighorn or going paragliding, to singing round the campfire with all the Winter Vollies before they left. Ski days with Meg, from glorious sunshine “Race you down” days, to blizzards and “Can you even see your skis?” days.

Learning to snowboard thanks to Monse, and dance Rwandan style with Sonia. The similarities between the Scottish and Irish humour with Nic, and the awe at Rach’s insane planning and organising – maybe it’ll rub off? As for Sam, programme intern, roomie for the last three weeks, I will miss you loads, but most of all: “Sammmm!? Make me popcorn!?”

Beckie on Elsighorn

And as for the work I hear you say? I have learnt a lot whilst being here. For example, I quite enjoy cleaning a few bathrooms, I love a day as kitchen coordinator, just chilling and cooking and cleaning.

There is a certain feeling of achievement when you feed everyone for the day and then still manage to leave the kitchen sparkling by 7pm.

Boris the Snowplough is my friend, and Derek the Dishwasher just needs a little encouragement.

We’re a mad bunch here, or maybe that’s just me.

As for Programme, I love programme. Leading hikes and sledging days through the winter, cooking bratwurst on a barbeque in the snow, watching groups awe at the frozen waterfalls. You know life is pretty sweet when a day in work can sometimes be a day’s sledging, perhaps followed by an evening running campfire.

Campfire is a beautiful thing. Not simple the fire its self (which yes, I could watch forever), but the atmosphere and the sharing and the people. Before the Winter Vollies left, we had a final campfire.

Beckie the Scottish ladyIt was truly beautiful. Some of the new Spring Vollies shared songs with us, Sonia tried to teach us songs in French, Kinyarwandan, and I think Kenyan. She then promptly laughed at us all failing.

It was a pretty emotional campfire, with “Say why, do we have to say goodbye” setting us off somewhat. It was very sad to see my winter family leave, but I quickly had to pull myself together “Hello SPRING!”

The Spring Vollies are a great bunch, and whilst it’s sad I can’t spend longer with them, I’ve tried to pass on all my knowledge and tips and tricks before I leave.

I will be very sad to leave Our Chalet, I am now yet another person who will be calling Stokli “Home”. But it is time to move on – to Denmark! To Denmark for a reunion with Monse and Meg!

So, what was it like to volunteer at Our Chalet? Well, I spent 3 beautiful months telling everyone “I love my job!”

Beckie Davies
Winter volunteer and Short term Spring volunteer – 2013

STAFF: Our Chalet – Our Home – Sonia (RW)

Standard

Sonia dancing

My time at Our Chalet made me and everyone else feel so comfortable that it felt much like being home. Swiss people were so nice and courteous to us all.

It was a very special time for me after travelling from Rwanda to Kenya (where I collected my visa) and on to Switzerland.

Some of the Swiss people were especially friendly & welcoming as one man paid for me to sit in VIP section and another called to the Chalet to let them know I was on the train from Bern, Amazing and I am thankful to both of them.

My first two months

Sonia gratuating

My first two months at Our Chalet were quite challenging but contains a lot of personal memories like my first Christmas & New Year away from home.
Surrounded by new friends & strange new foods was very exciting to experience. I think it may be the best time that I have ever had during this holiday season.

The snowflakes hanging in in the dining hall, the real snow falling on the outside like small pieces of paper falling from the sky was fantastic to see and experience.

It was like a whole new world of trees, houses, streets. Cars and people all covered with something snowy white, like I’ve never seen before. I was so happy to be there with a new family, the long term staff and guests that were there.

Sonia skiing

… The next two months
The last two month were amazing and full of new experiences as learned to ski, sledge, use the the washing and drying machines, speak and understand the English speakers at a faster pace and check in guest easily during day or night. I was able to do Our Chalet tours on my own and so many other things too numerous to mention.

We all left Our Chalet at different times so it will be difficult to part and go our separate ways. We cried each time any of the Winter volunteers were leaving. It was difficult very difficult for us to part.

and in the end…

Sonia and bear

My time and life at Our Chalet will always remain very special. Experiences I will never forget –  Christmas, New Year’s Day, My Birthday on Valentine’s Day, my Graduation Day on 23rd Birthday, World Thinking Day Event and Easter Celebrations event.

On the fun side there were the trip to the adventure park, learning to ski, the snow BBQs, riding the zip line and just being able to go crazy and play in the snow.

I cherish all new friends I made among the Our Chalet Staff, guest and people from Adelboden village.

I ate strange foods that were much different from my native tastes but it was not a problem as I like to try new things. I also enjoyed the Helen Storrow seminar while here. I now have so many other crazy friends that I met at Our Chalet. I love them all and it’s been real.

Sonia hiking

I want to personally thank Sally, Koka, Katie, Catt, Michael and Katy for everything they did to take best care of me.

A special thanks to the World Foundation for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the Rwanda Girl Guides Association and the Kenya Girl Guides Association for all their help and support.

Sonia Umugwaneza (Rwanda)
Guest Services Intern