STAFF: The Bucket List – Hilary (NZ)

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   Attention People of the Internet: if visiting Our Chalet is not on your bucket list – it should be!

I write this as I am in my fourth week of working at the Chalet here in Adelboden, a town in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. But excuse me for not introducing myself- Hi, I’m Hilary, I’m from New Zealand, and I’m an Autumn Volunteer.  This is the way that we introduce ourselves at the beginning of each event, before we raise the WAGGGS and Swiss flags, and then conduct our pinning ceremony.  In this pinning ceremony each person who has never visited Our Chalet before, receives a special pin that you can only gain when you visit.

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So far, this has been a busy few weeks. I arrived on Saturday the 30th of August, before training began at 9am on Monday the 1st of September. Our first event, Alpine Adventure Week, began on the 3rd of September. During this week I was able to participate in events such as International Night and Swiss night. I also went on multiple hikes including a hike up Chuenisbargli (1739m above sea level) where the Ski World Cup weekend is held every January, a hike to the woodcarver’s, and an overnight hike up Bunderspitz (2546m above sea level, where we arrived at the top just in time to see the sunrise). I met amazing people from all over the world including the Maldives, Greece, America, England, and Costa Rica.  I definitely improved my fitness by hiking up mountains, and decreased it, by eating lots of Swiss chocolate! The closing campfire was most definitely a highlight. All seven of us volunteers officially completed our training, and were presented with our Staff Neckers by Tanya, the Centre Manager.

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Just two days later our next event, Walking Week, began. This was as equally enjoyable as the Alpine Week. I was pleased to be able to lead a hike with another of the volunteers, Zoë, to the woodcarvers. I enjoyed getting to know the women on International Night, where we shared food from each of our respective homelands (Girl Scout cookies, Girl Guide biscuits, mushy peas and mint sauce, rock candy…).

Life at the Chalet isn’t confined to the Bernese Oberland however. Each week, we get two days off, and I have enjoyed travelling to Interlaken – where some of the vollies went paragliding, and others, including myself, instead chose to go white water rafting.  Another day, Beckie, Hana and I went to Bern. We explored both the Einstein Museum and the Bear Park, as well as wandered around soaking in the sun in this beautiful old town. Tomorrow I depart for Munich to visit my cousin and take in the sights of the city and Oktoberfest. I’m also excited for next month when we get to bring a group to Thun and take a funicular train up the side of Niesan Mountain.

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The awe of waking up with a view of the mountains has also inspired me to begin my bucket list. Although it only consists of a few items so far (such as walk the length of the Great Wall of China and finish the Duolingo Spanish course), I will definitely be continuing to add to it in the future.

Our Chalet, as the name suggests, has definitely become a home away from home for me. The welcoming LTS (long term staff) and the way that us seven Autumn vollies have just clicked, has made this place warm even as the weather begins to get colder. I have now had to add “Visit the other three world centres” to my bucket list. If they are anything like Our Chalet, I know that I will find three more homes around the world.

Hilary Kento-Peachey (NZ)
Our Chalet Assistant – Autumn 2014

Staff: Love. – Catt (UK)

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‘Love [luhv]: a strong feeling of affection or a great interest and pleasure in something.’

Love is the feeling that I associate with Our Chalet. For the past 4 years Our Chalet has been my home, workplace, safe haven, a place for laughter, tears and true friendships. The people I have met, the adventures I have had, the friendships I have formed and the guiding spirit I have experienced have all formed this love for a Chalet, High up High on the Mountain in Adelboden.

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Living in the Alps – this has been a truly magical experience. Not just the surroundings which I am sure you will all agree are spectacular but to the people I have met and the friendships I have formed. Each season brings a something different to the mountains and the colours are so vibrant and eye catching.

Summer is the time where Our Chalet comes alive it is by far the busiest season here and it seems to go in a blur. Meeting people from all over the world, getting to know them, hearing stories about their challenges and adventures during the day really brings the house to life. It really brings home the reason behind the existence of the World Centres: a place where everyone is welcome and can feel at home.Fondue

Autumn is by far the most colourful season. The days are warm and the hiking conditions are perfect: there is a breeze to cool you but the sun is still shining. It is the season where you really connect with the guests, with fewer event participants you can take the time to speak to the guests individually. I have to say after experiencing all of the seasons here, Autumn has to be my favourite.

Winter the season where my adventures began and it will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the time when I was put to the test as I had never seen that much snow before. Skiing was a challenge to me: chipping my front teeth during my first ski lesson, I decided I much preferred being on a toboggan or skibok after this. This was the time I developed my understanding of international guiding, immersed myself in Swiss culture and started to love being at Our Chalet.

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Spring is the season of change. It is when the mountains change the most they change from white to a dirty grey/green/brown colour, the grass starts to go green, and the flowers start to come out bursts of yellow and purple are all around. The cows come out of their winter barns and are seen in the lowlands, the days become longer and warmer. The baby cows have to be the cutest and friendliest things on the planet – they make your even the rainiest days a good day.

Opportunities – the past 4 years have been a series of opportunities. From being a winter volunteer 2010/2011, and heading straight to Pax Lodge to volunteer during the Young Women’s World Forum, to finding out that the Guest Services Volunteer for the summer was unable to come to Our Chalet. After saying that I would be more than happy to head back to Our Chalet for the summer I could not believe it when I got an email asking me to come back for the summer, this lead to a position on the long term staff team as the Guest Services Assistant which then lead to my current position as the Guest Services Coordinator.

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The things that I have done since I have been here have been amazing and some of the things I could never have even dreamed of doing before coming here. Each opportunity has helped me develop as a person, gain valuable life skills, challenge myself, learn lessons about who I am and how I interact with others. I have been giving the opportunity to travel far and wide, gain skills and share my experiences with the people I have met: thank you Our Chalet. A big thank you to the 19 LTS (and of course my baby Skippy) I have worked with over the past 4 years: you have helped make me who I am today.

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Volunteers – you are amazing and you are the reason that Our Chalet can exist. I have come to realise the power of the volunteer through working with some of the most inspirational, kind, dedicated, passionate, caring, enthusiastic, motivational, creative and amazing young men and women WAGGGS and WOSM has to offer. The 108 Our Chalet Assistants, 10 Short Term Volunteers and 61 Ready Steady Go Volunteers you know who you are: thank you for every smile you put on my face, every laugh we shared, the memories we made and the challenges we faced together. Not to mention the 9 Our Chalet Interns: you have been vital members of our team, words cannot describe how much you mean to the other LTS and volunteers you work with – never stop being your amazing selves.

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Experience – the past 4 years have been a positive experience. I am not saying that everyday has been easy; there have certainly many challenges along the way. Each of these challenges has helped me grow and become the person I have become today. From being a volunteer to a member of staff I have embrace every opportunity that had been given to me and I am thankful for everything that has happened over the past 4 years and the people who have made my experience so meaningful.

The overall World Centre Experience is something that I would recommend to anyone, if you are thinking about applying you should. There is no question about it; the World Centre Experience will change your life forever. Sangam, Pax Lodge, Our Cabana and Our Chalet are such unique palaces which offer something special to the Guiding and Scouting Movement. Whichever World Centre you are thinking of applying to the programmes that they offer will help you to develop as an individual, gain valuable life skills and see a beautiful place in the world.

So as I come to my final weeks at Our Chalet I have mixed emotions: I am sad to be leaving a beautiful corner of the world, I am excited about what comes next, I am happy I have got so many amazing memories and scared about what the future will hold. Never the less the skills, attributes, friends, connections and memories will comfort me when I have left Our Chalet behind. So I say bring on the next adventure wherever it may be 

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Catt Moody (UK)
Our Chalet Assistant (Winter 2010-2011), Guest Services Volunteer (Summer 2011), Guest Services Assistant (2011 – 2012), Guest Services Coordinator (2012 – 2014).