My name is Rachel, and I am from Ontario, Canada, and I have been volunteering at Our Chalet as the Programme Intern from May – September 2017. I applied for this position as I love the outdoors and nature, and was looking for a way to give back to Guiding, while experiencing life in a different part of the world. While volunteering at Our Chalet, I had the opportunity to experience and try many new things. While on programme, I went to the Adventure Park where I stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped off a bridge to abseil, and had the chance to try climbing on an outdoor rock wall. We explored towns, learned how chocolate is made (and how tasty it is!), and did lots of hiking, including an overnight hike to see the sunrise from the top of Bunderspitz.
In my time off, I spent a lot of time hiking. I loved how easy it was to just walk outside and go hiking around Adelboden; there are so many different routes and mountains from which to choose! Although sometimes hiking all day can be tiring, the view and sense of accomplishment I felt once I reached the top always made the hike worthwhile for me. While in Switzerland I also tried, for the very first time, a Klettersteig or Via Ferrata climbing route. These routes require you to wear a harness and helmet, and allow you to climb up a mountain while clipped into a fixed line. The first Klettersteig I did was with the programme staff on one of our days off together on Engstligen. This was a great introduction for me to this type of climbing, and I enjoyed it a lot. We even saw a very large patch of wild Edelweiss near the top of the trail!
After this successful climb, the program team and I decided we wanted more of a challenge, and went to the Klettersteig in Kandersteg, the next valley over, on Allemenalp. This Klettersteig was significantly longer and more challenging than the first we had attempted. There were rebar steps in the rock face, wire bridges, and ladders – even a spiral ladder. The views from this trail were spectacular, although I did feel like I was focusing on the climb so much in some areas to properly appreciate the view! Of all the things I did while I was in Switzerland, I think this Klettersteig was the most challenging, but I have to say I felt very accomplished after having reached the top.
After having spent four months in the Swiss Alps, I have a new appreciation for the importance of spending time outdoors in nature and being active. Although I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, I haven’t made spending time outdoors a priority as much in recent years. When I return home, I will bring back with me my enthusiasm for hiking and the outdoors and explore some new parts of Canada with friends, family, and Guiding groups.
Rachel DeJong (Canada) – Our Chalet Programme Intern 2017