The most exciting 26 hours of my life – Lisa (Austria)

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image2It was 5:20am and my alarm rang. Super excited for the day but quite tired I pulled on my hiking clothes grabbed a breakfast on the go and hopped into the Our Chalet van. The van was full of half-asleep vollies, interns and staff from 7 different countries. We drove to Engstligenalp where we caught the first Gondola up at 6am, on top it felt as cold as the arctic winter. We grabbed our hats and gloves and prepared ourselves for the wait for the cows! It was Alpabzug and I was crazy enough to stand up on an Alp before sunrise. One herd after the other passed us; all of us were trying to get the best shots in. After most of our group left to make it to work on time, Beth from Wales and me, Lisa from Austria, chose a calm herd and we tagged along to head down to the bottom!

The hike down Engstligen is well known for steep steps and windy paths down. So there we were in the back of a cow herd. It seemed as if the cows had no trouble at all descending to the bottom. And there we were – out of breath and ready for a break. There was only one problem, not only was there a herd in front of us but also already behind us. We tried to stay calm looking for an escape. After we finally found a corner to hide / get out of the way of the coming cows, we could finally catch our breaths. The farmers jumped down like mountain goats, the cows ran down without a problem and we, not knowing if we make it down alive or if we would end up being hit be the next herd. After the herd has passed we decide to start again to gain some time to the next herd. One more time we had to hide behind a bench to let a herd pass because we were just not fast enough. After 1:10hr we eventually made it to the bottom of the gondola station. Finally we could catch our breaths again and starting laughing at our ridiculous idea to hike down a mountain in between 500 cows.
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We then decided to walk all the way back to Our Chalet, we managed to get back by 9:40, just as all the staff that were working that day came out of morning meeting. As we only had a quick breakfast before we left and we already had walked 15.000 steps we decided on a big breakfast for the day before we dropped onto the sofa and watched a movie.

During the afternoon, after my nap, my heart started to beat faster and faster. I started to run around our staff house searching all my hiking equipment. I made packing lists and kept asking all the vollies if I was well-equipped for the Bunderspitz hike. As my backpack was completely full I considered myself ready. I quickly decided my five layers of clothing proved to be the right choice. During dinner my excitement level was raising constantly. It probably did not help that I had two big servings of apple crumble and custard – I get hyperactive with too much sugar in my blood.

19:30 the program bell rings and Jenn and I gather with the guests to check equipment and the plan for the evening/night. And off we are. We have a group of 5 inspiring young women from 5 different countries with us as well as Jackie, an autumn vollie from the US.

After the first hour we finally have to turn on our head lamps as it was pretty dark by now as we hiked through the woods. My heart was beating heavily and I was so curious for everything to come. When Jenn announced that we were about 20mins away from our sleeping spot I was surprised by how quickly we had made it to that point. When we 2arrived at the Cheesemakers-Hut, the farmer welcomed us with hot chocolate. We finished it fast and chatted a bit before we headed to the shed where the mattresses were. Bundled up in sheets and wool blankets, hats and fluffy socks everyone fell asleep fast, except me of course. I laid there for what felt hours trying to get comfortable but when I am excited I just can’t sleep.

At 3:15 when the alarm rang I felt like a just have fallen asleep – but oh well, we were about to climb a peak in the dark!!! Half asleep I put on all my layers of clothing, tied my shoes and went brush my teeth and wash my face. At 3:45 we were off, heading closer to the peak. Our next destination was a cow hut – our breakfast spot.

Looking back to this 1:30hrs hike now, I cannot really recall the first 30mins, I guess I was sleepwalking. The hike did not feel challenging at all because I just could not see a thing and only went step after step. At our breakfast spot we enjoyed our packed lunch, but even better was the sky full of stars. It was such a clear night we could even see the Milky Way. So we were sitting there and I slowly started to realise that this is probably not the only magical moment of the morning. As it got colder and colder we started heading 1towards the peak again to keep our bodies moving. The dawn slowly broke the darkness and we could finally turn off our head lamps. And then it was only 30mins towards the peak, my excitement rose and rose and the last steps felt like an accomplishment. There we were on top of Bunderspitz on 2546m waiting for the sunrise. We put on our last layers of clothing and ate the last bit of our breakfast before we got ready to see a magical moment.

image1When the sun rose over Eiger and Jungfrau I felt accomplished and thankful. I would have not imagined myself on top of a mountain watching such a beautiful sunrise with inspiring people around the world. I felt content and blessed to have sat there.

Looking back those were the most amazing 26hrs so far of my internship here at Our Chalet. Even though I was exhausted for the whole next day and a slight cold for the next week I would do both, the Alpabzug Hike with cows and the Bunderspitz overnight hike again, anytime, because those are the once in a lifetime experience that make the stay at Our Chalet so special.

Lisa Pfeiffer – Programme Intern, Autumn 2016

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).

STAFF: Karin (SWE) Guess what made me feel home away from home?

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Hi, my name is Karin and I’m from Sweden. My time as a spring volunteer here at Our Chalet will soon come to an end. During my three months I’ve had so much fun, but sometimes I’ve missed being home. When that happens it’s nice to do things that reminds you of home. So when me and Eve realized that Eurovision Song Contest was happening on the 26th of May we decided that we had to watch it and organize a party with it for everyone to join!

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Eurovision Song Contest is a live European music competition. All the European countries send a song and an artist to represent their country in the competition. They all sing and then you  can call in and vote for the song/show you liked the best (not your own country though). They then announce the winner which next year will host the whole competition!

Karin Bergman Spring volutneer 2012

For our party, because not all of us are European, everyone had to dress up as a European country to make it a bit funny for everyone!

Some of the countries that people dressed up as was: United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Albania, France, Greece, Turkey and Carly came as the “clueless American”. And Eve and I were the hosts so Eve went as the male host and I was the female. Eve’s beard was fabulous!

The show began and it was a lot of fun. Some of the songs were really good and some of them were really strange, like Russia’s song that was performed by six old ladies that were singing “party for everybody” while baking cookies on stage. After we had heard all the songs we did our own voting where we voted for the person who dressed up as a country the best and we also guessed which would be the top three songs.
Karin Bergman Spring volutneer 2012
The voting started and at the end the country that won was *drumroll* SWEDEN with the song “Euphoria” performed by the girl Loreen! SO EXCITING!

Last time Sweden won was 1999 and finally we won again! YAY! Next year the competition will be in Sweden and Eve and I are already planning on seeing it live!

The winner of best costume was Katy (our kitchen coordinator) and Eve and the person who had the best guess for the top three was Michael (Katy’s boyfriend).

This was the best Eurovision ever, not only because of the fact that Sweden won, but also because of the people I watched it with!

Farewell, So long, Aufwiedersehn, Goodbye…

I now only have four days left with spring volunteers and I’m going to make those days really good! I will then stay for an extra week working with the summer volunteers before I take the bus to  Kandersteg in the valley next to Adelboden to work for three months at Kandersteg International Scout Centre!

Karin Bergman Spring volutneer 2012

 Karin (Sweden) Spring Volunteer 2012