When I arrived at Our Chalet, I was immersed in my ideas of the present and the experiences that we, as the summer volunteers of 2014, would have this year.
I had no idea that the history of this beautiful place would have such a marked impact on my time here. More than this it never even crossed my mind that volunteers and visitors from decades ago could have had exactly the same feelings and experiences as me.
It all started when I was tasked with the challenge of finding records of my Grandma’s Guide Leader’s visit here in the 1950’s. I took on this mission with excitement, because it’s a long way from Australia and I loved the idea of learning about the journeys of other women over the years to get here from across the other side of the world.
One of my favourite things as a volunteer is the excitement I can see on people’s faces when they see the Guest Book in the Great Britain Room and sit down to write a message in it. There is something so special about leaving a real hard-copy mark on a place.
The guest books at Our Chalet have been held in the hands of thousands of people since the Chalet’s opening, and each one holds countless stories.
It makes me so excited to think that the stories people leave today will be read carefully by Guides and Scouts of the future as they sit in a rocket ship flying over Adelboden. This is what makes it so special to have the opportunity to dive into the bomb shelter (where we store all the old guest books from the very beginning of Our Chalet) and learn more about the people who came here before us.
One of my favourite things I found in a guest book from 1948-1955, was a poem called “An Ode to a Bench” . The writer of this poem’s name was Betsy “Tigger” Larsen and I’m fairly certain that she read my future thoughts as she wrote about how ” I breathe one last long gasp and see a welcome sight- a bench where I’ll collapse”.
I have never been to a place as hilly as the Berner Oberland, and at the same time I have never been in a place with as many park benches scattered along the roads.
I loved the way that this guest from so long ago had this exact same thought about such a little thing and it is this that reminds me of just how many people I share this experience with.
I have not yet found any record of the guide leaders I initially set out to find.
Rather, what I have got from my time here is the fact that we are all part of the same community.No matter what decade, year, month or day- this thread of Guiding and Girl Scouting is what brings us together.
It is this that that I love so much about volunteering at the Chalet – I am part of a tradition and a very special group of people that has existed since 1932.
It is us who can leave our own memories so that in another 80 years, more volunteers can find records of us and talk about how dated our clothes and hairstyles were.