A Day in the life….of an Our Chalet Summer Assistant – Aoife, UK

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Summer is a busy month here at Our Chalet with events running throughout the season and Girl Guides and Scouts visiting from all around the world to see Our Chalet. It can be a little daunting to think that people may have been saving for years to visit and now it’s up to you to meet their, sometimes incredibly high, expectations and make this an unforgettable experience. As a Summer Volunteer I get to take guests out on programme as well as completing guest services jobs around the chalet.

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7am is usually the time my alarm sounds when working on programme, giving me time to get up, get ready and make sure I am ready for the day ahead with a full stomach, packed lunch and plenty of snacks, arriving at morning meeting by 8:30am. Everyday begins with a morning meeting where we find out tasks for the day and sometimes even has a theme; Teaching Tuesday, Freaky Friday, Wild Wednesday ! After the meeting one lucky person gets to ring the programme bell, letting guests know that they should be almost ready for programme and need to head down and meet by the flag pole. During the summer months guests take part in the Swiss Challenge event, an 8 day high adventure programme which involves many activities including hiking, rock climbing and town days. Each day we will do an equipment check just to double check nobody has forgotten anything, it’s no fun being caught on top a mountain in the rain without your waterproofs! Once everybody is sorted and accounted for we being our exciting day of activities. One programme that the Chalet has run for many years is a trip to the local Trummer family woodcarver shop. Guests hike down the chalet hill and through the Adelboden valley, arriving at the woodcarvers around 2 hours later. The views from the hike are spectacular and guests enjoy looking back and trying to spot the chalet. After visiting the woodcarvers and buying many handcrafted souvenirs the hike continues, this time in the direction of Adelboden town, stopping off for lunch by the river before heading back to Our Chalet in time for dinner.

Guest services days begin a little later, with morning meeting at 9:30am before tackling the work ahead of us (unless you are on breakfast when you have a nice and early start at 7:30am). Everyday tasks include cleaning bathrooms and any guest areas, if we have arrivals rooms will need to be set and departures means plenty of laundry. Some days we may have to turn around the full chalet in one day, sometimes the laundry may get started as early as 7:30 just so we have enough clean bedding. Season volunteers are responsible for all meals at Our Chalet, under the supervision of the kitchen manager, and dinner is served at 6:30pm. Dinner is served in the dining hall with one sitting for both guests and staff so it can get a bit tight when the chalet is full, sometimes the staff need to sit outside. Then it’s time for evening programme, usually done by those working on guest services that day whilst those on programme transfer to clean up the kitchen. International Night is always a night the vollies look forward to as guests share their culture with the rest of the group and this often involves food!

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Working at Our Chalet is a brilliant and varied experience, you will never get bored and meeting guests from around the world and hearing their stories is what makes this experience even more amazing.

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Aoife Smith (UK) – Our Chalet Assistant, Summer 2017

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Life as a Summer Shortie – Eirian, Scotland

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Being a short term volunteer (shortie) at Our Chalet is an experience to say the least! At times it seems surreal to think I am living and working in Switzerland learning and doing new things daily. Although sometimes life can get tiring and a bit repetitive on guest services. As a short term volunteer I am involved in keeping everywhere clean, feeding everyone and doing day tours occasionally, therefore at times I feel like I am constantly in the kitchen or have cleaned the bathrooms for the thousandth time. It is all worth it though for the opportunity to be here, especially when you do it with an amazing group of people who make it fun.

I have loved meeting and making friends with people from all over the world that are also volunteering and working here, hopefully the friendships will last. It has been interesting learning about the different cultures and funny at times when learning different phrases for example. I have been here for the season change over meaning I am very lucky as I got to know and work with the summer and autumn volunteer teams, however I am not looking forward to having to say goodbye to two groups as the first time wasn’t fun.

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Working at Our Chalet can be challenging, which is good as that is part of the reason why I wanted to come here. I wanted a challenge, adventure and a condensed dose of Girl Guiding to help my withdrawal due to being away from the world whilst at university. Although I can cook and make a lot of things from scratch, cooking here is completely different to at home, mainly due to having to cook for such a large number of people. It hasn’t been easy but I think I am more used to cooking for the masses. I have also learned how to make different things which I might try to use at home. These are mainly the traditional Swiss dishes that we offer; Rosti and Alpine Maccaroni. One thing about cooking here that came as a surprise is that I am apparently  good at cooking tofu according to one of the interns. I have never cooked with it until coming here and although I nearly destroyed the pan the first time I cooked it, the tofu was greatly enjoyed. I’m not comfortable doing presentations which is practically what the day tours are as I’m giving a lot of information on the tour to a large group of people and therefore found this challenging as well. I hope I got a bit better at it during my time here.

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On my days off I managed to have a lot of adventures!! I have tagged along on programme to the wood carvers, hiked to the magic tree and Bunderfalls, had an interesting camping experience at the Scout World Centre in Kandersteg, seen the beautifully amazing sights of Blausee and the view from the top of Niesen, been swimming in the lake at Speiz, got up at stupid o’clock to see the cows coming down from Engstligenalp for the autumn / winter, then rode in a gondola and hiked in snow!!!

The whole experience of being a shortie at Our Chalet is one I will never forget! It has been amazing being here although I haven’t quite managed to fit in all the adventures I wanted to, it looks like I’ll need to come back!

Eirian

Eirian McKelvie (Scotland) Our Chalet Short Term Volunteer Summer & Autumn