Just under two months ago, I was sitting at the Cairns International Airport filled with excitement and anxiety about my long awaited trip to Our Chalet.
My mind was racing with worries – “what if I miss one of my flights and don’t even make it to Switzerland?”, “what if my homesickness is so bad that I have to leave early?”, “what if I don’t fit in with the other volunteers?” and “what if I am not fit enough to participate in the programme?”
I had just turned 18 a week before my departure, I had never had an International Guiding experience before and I had never travelled overseas by myself! Regardless of this, I managed to arrive at Our Chalet safely 27 hours after I left Australia.
I remember climbing onto the bus to Adelboden completely exhausted and full of excitement to get me first look at the place I have heard so much about throughout my Guiding life!
I had my face pressed to the window gawking at the beautiful mountains and had to pinch myself as we drove up the hill to Our Chalet, which is more amazing than I could ever have imagined. After settling in and meeting my fellow volunteers I immediately felt at home and wasn’t scared anymore.
Our first week of training was full on but super rewarding. We were pumped with information and the vital skills to help us through the autumn season – everything from how to make the bathrooms sparkle to catering for large groups.
On the fourth day I faced one of the biggest challenges in my life – doing an overnight hike up Bunderspitz to see the sunrise. It was my first real hike and the feeling of reaching the top after hours of hard work is indescribable.
Since then, the other vollies and I have had a brilliant time working here at Our Chaletand travelling around Switzerland on our days off – there is an endless amount of things to do and see! We have also had some fantastic events including Walking Week, Trefoil Holiday and the Former Staff Reunion to name a few.
So many amazing people have joined us here during the autumn season. One thing in particular that stuck with me was a conversation I had with one of the trefoil ladies towards the beginning of the season. She told me with a tear in her eye “I honestly can’t believe that I am finally here at the place I have been singing and dreaming about for forty years.”
Not only has my time at Our Chalet taught me how to cook, clean, hike and sing, but it has shown me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to and that I can do whatever I want to do with my life!
So to anybody considering a visit to Our Chalet, whether volunteering or as a guest, I say a massive “YES”!
This place will change your life forever; you will have memories that will last you a lifetime, firm friends from all around the world and a place that you can always call home
Christina Dye (Australia)
Autumn Volunteer 2013