STAFF: A Vollie’s view of the Helen Storrow Seminar – Catherine (UK)

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It’s been a while since the seminar now so I thought I’d share how it was to be a volunteer at the time; it was certainly a week to remember at Our Chalet.

As a vollie, the first day was spent making sure that everything around the Chalet  was as spic, span and shiny as it possibly could be. More and more participants arrived every hour, so that by the time the dinner bell rang, the Chalet was almost bursting!

Then came the tour, which was good despite it being a little tricky to point out buildings in the dark.ImageWe were all up bright and early the next morning for the opening ceremony. Luckily(?) for us, so were the snow clouds…. All through the speeches, songs and handing out of badges, everyone was dusted heavily in cold, cold icing sugar.

Then as the seminar activities ran, us vollies skipped (well maybe not quite skipped) around the Chalet to scrub at anything that wasn’t quite as sparkly as it should be (let’s just say snow is beautiful until it comes inside and creates puddles all over the boot room…)

After cooking, we’d dash out of the kitchen and squeeze in with the participants. Each mealtime had its own personality; as we lapped up various dishes of Swiss cuisine, we’d share stories from our home countries. It was always hard to leave the table but Derek (the dishwasher) would be beckoning, so off we ran to the kitchen to scrub Pollard (the pot) and all her friends; all in perfect time to songs from the resident Disney c.d.

Before International Night, we had to clean everything in the seemingly impossible time of 40 minutes. I’ve never seen anyone run around the kitchen as crazily and efficiently as we did that night… Quite miraculously, well thanks to Catt really, (she definitely wasn’t bribed scones), we finished with 3 minutes to spare!  ImageWe dived straight into the activities; learning all kinds of dance from Arabic to Irish, Salsa to Azunto. It was wonderful. Just as you thought that you were entirely out of breath and absolutely had to collapse on the floor, someone would start teaching another song, dance or game from the other side of the world and before you’d know it, you’d find yourself joining in.

Assisting with running the seminar was fun too. It was fascinating to hear project ideas from all the participants; each one was so different, so unique and yet everyone had the same clear vision for improving the environment in their local area.

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The closing ceremony was very appropriately at the same time as Earth Hour, so whilst the Chalet was in darkness, outside we all placed tea lights in the shape of a trefoil. We listened to readings, thank you’s and goodbyes from everybody, until it was time for each participant in sing Taps in their own native language.

Afterwards, some us went to lie in the snow on the front lawn, it was entirely black but for the faint glow of Adelboden through the trees. We lay there for some time, growing colder and colder, just looking up at the stars and listening to the nothingness.Image

Catherine Rose
Spring Volunteer – UK

STAFF: I did not expect… – Natalie (NZ)

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Since I found out I was going to be a Spring Vollie at Our Chalet, I seem to have had countless people asking me about my expectations. To be honest, I only had a rough idea of what I’d be getting up to, and it just didn’t seem fair to build too much from that. So while I can’t tell you that life at the Chalet was or wasn’t what I expected, I thought I’d share some of the things I definitely did not see coming!

Natalie

  • I did not expect to find folding laundry so therapeutic.
  • I did not expect to go hurtling down a mountain on a sledge in the dark.
  • I did not expect to share a room and actually quite like it.
  • I did not expect to meet so many people from the UK… but it’s like one big tea-drinking support group, which is lovely.
  • I did not expect to spend kitchen time belting Disney songs and dancing to ABBA.
  • I did not expect to win a free ski lesson, let alone find it actually quite enjoyable!
  • I did not expect to be so confused when crossing the road…
  • I did not expect to discover a talent for whipping cream into ‘soft peaks’.
  • I did not expect to be asked if I’d like to go paragliding over the mountains – uhhhh yes!
  • I did not expect to make such good friends among the other vollies and staff.
  • I did not expect to spontaneously make chocolate brownie for said friends, just to make them happy =)
  • I did not expect to become so skilled at folding fitted sheets.
  • I did not expect to learn how to cross-country ski with a group of guides, let alone complete a 4km-ish circuit without falling on my bum!
  • I did not expect to succeed in lighting a fire with only one match.
  • I did not expect to feel so proud of my culture and heritage.
  • I did not expect the snow to melt so quickly.
  • I did not expect to become so attached to having cornflakes for breakfast.
  • I did not expect to be acting as translator between US and UK English!
  • I did not expect to feel such a sense of satisfaction after cleaning toilets.
  • I did not expect to like popcorn with salt, cinnamon and maple syrup (although I did expect to like it with salt and chocolate fondue!).
  • I did not expect campfire singing to sound so good!
  • I did not expect to rely so heavily on masking tape.
  • I did not expect to have such fun with a mountain, some dirty snow, and a bin bag.
  • I did not expect to become so attached to Derek the Dishwasher.
  • I did not expect to find myself retrieving a sewing machine from the bomb shelter.
  • I did not expect to teach the Cotton Eyed Joe dance to a group of young leaders from around the world.
  • I did not expect time to fly by so quickly!

spring vollie group

We’re about halfway through our season already, with some big weeks ahead of us. I look forward to the many experiences yet to come that I did not expect to happen, and I hope you will take a moment to think about the awesome unexpected experiences you’ve had so far!

Natalie Watkin Ward (NZ)
Our Chalet Assistant – Spring 2014

GUESTS: Cambs East Guides and Senior Section

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Thank you so much for such a GREAT Easter Fun week – igloo building, cross country skiing, sledging, hiking, orienteering, campfire building, snow-shoeing, snow tubing and so much more in the way of friendships and renewed energy for all that is Guiding. Thank you to the Our Chalet team for all your enthusiasm, energy, friendship and fun. You have been brilliant and I hope that Cambs East will come back again soon.

C, L, A, J and the girls.

STAFF: The tip of the iceberg – A little more about our Spring Vollies

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Well everyone has a staff profile, but how much do you actually know about our Spring 2014 vollies?

We all know that it’s easy to learn about the tip of the iceberg. However, a lot more lies beneath the surface. A bit like all of us! So here is a little more about our lovely volunteers.

Georgie is 18 and next year she’s off to study Physics at university.

Despite the super-sciencey nature of her chosen degree subject she is a creative soul. She enjoys encaustic art (that’s creating pictures with melted wax and a special iron according to google), reading and music – Georgie plays many instruments including: violin, ukulele, piano, drums, cornet, trumpet, recorder, accordion, guitar, bass guitar, ocarina and the harmonica. Unfortunately she only had space for the Ukulele in her suitcase – but we all enjoy hearing her strum away on it!

Rachel is 23 from Kentucky, USA and loves archaeology – if it’s old, buried underground and in the Middle East or Asia she’ll find it! This summer she will be on a dig in Israel and in August she is going to be working as a teaching assistant in Japan for a year. She’s one busy individual!

She shares her birthday (Feb 26th if you really want to know) with her dad, sister AND two cousins. Rachel is also the tiniest bit accident prone – she has a bump on her skull from an accident in her childhood. But don’t worry, we have the Band-Aids and bubble wrap at the ready.

Natalie is 22 and comes from New Zealand. Before her time at our Chalet she was living in London and she will be returning to the UK once her stint at Our Chalet is over.

She has learnt to fly through scouting and the very first time she was flying by herself she sang “I believe I can fly” very loudly. Well why not? She also loves musicals and dancing – she has done all her life!  Tap dancing on tables, double pirouettes… you name it, she’s probably tried it. She’s pretty good at it too!

Catherine is 19 and from the UK. Next year she will be studying Linguistics and Psychology at University.

It’s not her first time at Our Chalet, having visited as a young leader with her Guide group. She has somewhat fallen in love with the native wildlife – Catherine really loves marmots (but we have yet to see any this year)! After her time here she will be going trekking in Nepal. She is certainly a seeker of challenge and adventure!

Molly is 18 and from the UK and it definitely isn’t her first time at a World Centre! She has visited Our Chalet before and spent last October as a Tare in Sangam working in a mobile crèche.

She has been on quite a mission to finish the French knitting she started one year on camp and has the longest, most colourful length of knitting we’ve ever seen! Part of this one will edge her camp blanket. She’s still not sure what she will end up doing with the rest. It will be fabulous whatever she does with it. In September she will be off to university to study criminology!

Emma is 22 and from the UK. You might recognise Emma as this is her second season with us! Originally a winter 13/14 vollie, Emma has stayed on to help out with spring vollie training and to stay on for our busy weeks in May.

She is very active and likes to play squash, first playing when she was younger, then rekindling her love for the sport at university. So if you see her with a snowball – DUCK! Her aim is pretty good. Travelling is another passion of hers; she’s studied abroad in Hong Kong, travelled around Asia and is always thinking about where her next adventures will take her!

Louise is 20 and from Sweden. It’s her first time to Our Chalet but her Grandmother – Karin Wingqvist, worked here for two summers in 1947 and 1948!

She is yet another of our vollies who loves to travel! She has visited Morocco and been camel trekking in the Sahara desert “it was cold in the desert at night, but the stars were amazing”. After her season here she is jetting off to the USA for a friend’s wedding and will hopefully have some adventures whilst she’s over there too. This busy start to the year means that Louise will be glad of a rest when she starts her studies this autumn.

Spring 2014 Vollies

Now of course, that is still only scratching the surface of our wonderful vollies. If you are lucky enough to come and visit, make sure you get to know them better!