STAFF: Make a wish! – Somto (NGA)

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I have been here at Our Chalet in the Swiss Alps as a volunteer for the winter season. Taking the decision to come here wasn’t easy because I had to put a lot of things on hold. But from planning my journey and finally arriving it was worth it. My dream of seeing snow came true though, I saw snow, I felt snow, I walked in it and I experienced all kinds of it and waking up every morning and seeing the whole place including mountains tops look white and beautiful always brings peace to my soul. I have seen so many beautiful sites and lots of memorable experiences, each and everything I do daily is new and wonderful.

To start with we had a white Christmas and New Year celebrations, it’s the first time I have spent Christmas away from home, not just away from home but far away from home in a different environment, with different people and cultures. It wasn’t the same but it was fun anyway. We went on a trip to the Christmas market in Bern, it was cool and I fell in love with the city.

somto groupWe have been hiking to different places; Woodcarvers, Engstligen waterfalls and going snow tubing. Walking in the snow always makes me feel like am on the moon! I also used the snow shoes for the magic tree snow shoe hike which was great. It might also interest you to know that two different wishes I made at the magic tree came true; so do try and make a wish at the magic tree anytime you visit our chalet!

Soon it was time to learn how to ski, I enrolled for some ski lessons and can proudly say I know how to ski even though am not an expert.  I am yet to perfect making turns – the skis are their own masters and they never bend to your command until they have flung you on to the ground a few times first!

It’s fun and interesting to know that you have to put in so much energy to control some tiny objects!

I had a great time during the ski world cup held in Adelboden, it was awesome watching professionals ski in real life and listening to the beautiful tunes and background music that were playing. We also managed to get into the village that night to see other events (such as the bib picking ceremony) that were taking place. It was so much fun.

somto ski wc

One of the best activities that I enjoyed doing here was sledging, it’s so much fun, especially sledging at night – I will really miss that! I also had a go on the airboard and another of my dreams came true when I went paragliding. I lack words to describe how I felt but it was very good!  One thing I learned here is just how cold it can be, it is never this cold back home in Nigeria!

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It has been a wonderful experience and I have enjoyed every bit of it, there is so much fun in the Swiss Alps, there is so much fun high up in the mountains and much more fun lies beneath the roof of Our Chalet.

Chinweoke ‘Somto’ Orakwute (NGA)

Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2013/14

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GUESTS: The Big Brownie Birthday – 2nd Croft Brownies (UK)

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“We had an amazing weekend! We’re already planning our return! Thank you so much to all the staff again for such a life changing experience which we will never forget! You all helped my international licence weekend go swimmingly!”

Charlotte Nash

“We had the most amazing time, it was worth every minute of planning and travelling to have such a brilliant adventure, and for it to be snowing when we left just completed the trip with many many fantastic memories.”

Karen Nash

2nd Croft Brownies, Cheshire Forest, UK

STAFF: From one World Centre to another – Sailee (IND)

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Namaste from the Swiss Alps!!!

It’s been 10 weeks and I still can’t believe that I’m living in the snow and at Our Chalet!

My journey started from Sangam World Centre where I work as a Guest Services Assistant. It has always been my dream to live in snow or to at least experience and play in snow! So, here I am living surrounded by it in the Alps for 3 months! Growing up with the spirit of Guiding has always inspired me to travel and work at every World Centre.

Since I arrived here every moment has been an adventure – amazing, awesome and unforgettable.

Emma Gaenor Sayali World Cup '14

During the first few weeks we were trained and got to learn more about Our Chalet. We’ve done a lot, from cleaning the toilets to learning how to cook Swiss dishes. As well as learning Swiss hiking protocols and how to do equipment checks.

On New Year’s Eve we all were officially presented with a red Our Chalet necker which means that we are know all the secrets behind the doors and are fully trained!

Next it was time to learn some downhill skiing. Well, this was challenging as I had never practiced skiing before (it’s tricky when you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow)! First time on skis was pretty scary and hard to control as they just slide down – you end up on the ground on your first try. It took a while to get used to them and all I said at the end of the day was “I wanted to do more, but my body did not support me“!

However, there was still more skiing to try and this time it’s my favourite one ‘cross-country skiing’ it’s new to me but still my favourite! This one is easier to get on with – all you do is glide and most importantly it’s on a flatter piste. But you can still fall over few times!

Sledding is another favourite and again completely new to me. The best sled run is right next to us, from Baby Chalet to Main Chalet. Even more challenging is night sledding at Tschentenalp it really is super fun and amazing!

Apart from all the fun activities outside let me tell about the inside fun!

The joy starts with breakfast club in Stöckli every morning and guessing which tasks we will have for the day. After the morning meeting we then start working on our tasks.

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Ever since watching the One Direction movie with Aisling, another One Direction fan has been created… Me! After watching the movie and listening to their music I am now singing One Direction all day and night! So if I’m the kitchen coordinator everyone knows what the playlist will be whilst we are preparing dinner.

As Valentine’s Day was near we wanted to make everyone feel special and loved so the staff played a version of the ‘murder mystery game’! We each pulled a name, location and an object out of a hat and had to make something (using the object) for the person and present it to them in the place on Valentine’s Day. We had a week to plan and prepare for our Valentine! The best part of Valentine’s Day was the campfire and closing for the group of 14 guides from Scotland who were with us for the Winter Adventure Week programme. This was the most memorable Valentine for all of us and hard to say goodbye to such a lovely group!

Caithness Guides

World Thinking Day is fast approaching and this week we are going to have a full house. Time has gone fast and it’s almost the end of February. Now the countdown has begun I’m full of sadness to be leaving but also excited to be going home and sharing my time here!

To be honest, the more excitement I have had here, the greater the sadness I feel to leave this place!

Sangam is my second home and Our Chalet is definitely my third one!!!

I just want to say thank you to everyone for giving me this opportunity and I have loved all my time here!

Every day is beautiful, full of challenge and adventure. To enjoy life to the fullest you must have no expectations and welcome each day with open arms.

Love you all!

Sailee Gangurde (IND)
Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2013/14

STAFF: 101 ways to get down a mountain – Kate (USA)

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Hi everyone! This is Kate, one of the winter volunteers from the USA. I’ve been having an incredible time living and working here at Our Chalet.

Some of my favorite activities happen out and around the Chalet in the beautiful Swiss alps. Besides the traditional downhill skiing, which I have been perfecting on my days off (I did my first black run on Saturday!), we can go sledding (or sledging for you UK folk), skibok-ing, and airboarding. There are lots of ways to slide down mountains!

Sailee, Kate, Emma on Mountain

Did you know that Adelboden has specially groomed pistes just for sledding? I’ve gone sledding at home, but the little hill at the local park is nothing compared to these mountains. One of my favorite day programs is to take a sled up Silleren mountain and sled down the piste (that’s about 5km long!). The best part is that you don’t have to walk up the hill again- just take the gondola back up to the top!

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Night sledding on Tschentenalp is one of the best things I’ve done in the evenings. Every Saturday night they keep the gondola open until 9 to sled down the slopes in the dark. The Tschenten slopes are especially steep, but once you’ve done them once or twice to learn the twists and turns it’s super fun.

Sometimes you see some local kids going down the slopes on skiboks. A skibok is an Adelboden invention that is made of half an old ski with a wooden seat screwed to the top. When you ride them, you can go almost as fast as regular skiing. Of course, every time I’ve tried it I’ve just fallen over. This month I definitely want to work on my skibok-ing, though, so when I go home I can build one for myself and show off next winter!

On my day off recently I tried my hand at airboarding. An airboard is basically a bodyboard filled with air, or an air mattress with handles. You lie on it and slide down a hill. Head first (wear a helmet!). It was such an adrenaline rush! If youlove adventure then airboarding is definitely something to try.
I can’t forget to mention the awesome sledding that we do here at Our Chalet. The hill going from Baby Chalet to Main Chalet is perfect for sledding, and it’s nice not to have to go too far from home.

We have lots of different kinds of sleds at the Chalet to use. My favorite is affectionately dubbed “the little red thing” (the LTR). It actually has a handle for you to hold on to, and it has a hard plastic bottom that lets you go really fast even in the deep snow we have here!

Can you tell I love to sled? I think it’s wonderful how seriously the Swiss take their sledding. In the US, sledding is something done by children (and university students, at least at mine!). If you tried to take a sled up a ski slope people would laugh at you. But here you seepeople of all ages riding down the mountains. It’s great!

ShadowsWho says you’re too old to have a little fun?

 

Kate Marie Kemmerer (USA)
Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2013/14

 

STAFF: A Return to Our Chalet – Aisling (IRL)

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Aisling - Short Term Volunteer After spending an idyllic summer at Our Chalet where I had an amazing time I volunteered to return for a month in late December. I was a little apprehensive of the weather and if it would be much different to the summer. I need not have worried. From the moment I arrived in Adelboden it felt like I had never been away. Yes there was snow everywhere, but the unique character of the Chalet was still there to behold. I settled immediately and renewed old friendships and made new ones.

New Years was magical. After a snow BBQ at Engstligen Falls we returned to the chalet for fondue and an international night. We celebrated all that day with guests and staff from all over the world, from Australia and New Zealand to Denmark and Sweden to the America as the New Year dawned in their home countries. The highlight was when we were standing outside at the fire, listening to the bells and watching the fireworks from the town illuminating the beautiful night sky, all against the backdrop of the sheer natural beauty. What a way to ring in the New Year!

Hot on the heels of New Year’s we looked forward to the Ski World Cup. I have never seen the village so busy!! There was excitement in the air. We had some officials and sponsors staying with us as well as some members of a competitor’s family. We even got to see some of the best skiers in the world!

Ski World Cup All too quickly the days passed and it was time to return to college. It was with a heavy heart and a few tears I said my goodbyes but then as the bus pulled away I smiled, I had been so lucky to get the chance to spend some more time at this beautiful place.

Aisling Blog - Winter Chalet Grounds Aisling Claffey (IRL) Short Term Volunteer – Winter 2013/14