Discovering the Magic of Our Chalet – Sarah (USA)

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A year ago I arrived at Our Chalet, eager to start in a new role as Programme Coordinator, after falling in love with this place as a volunteer. Even though I had spent a couple wonderful months here previously, nothing could have prepared me for what I have experienced since my return. This year has been unbelievable; full of adventures and new challenges. I learned to cross country ski, made dozens of igloos (which was very strange for this Florida girl), rafted with a group of hilarious teens, went canyoning, met hundreds of very cute cows, let a llama chew on me, spent a few nights cuddled above a cow barn with my co-workers, climbed countless mountains, turned Skippy Storrow (arguably my favorite creature here) into a superhero, watched the sunrise over the Alps, ice skated on a lake, and ate more cheese and chocolate than I would like to admit.

My friend Jenn always says she feels like her best self here at the chalet. I don’t think I ever understood how a place could have that kind of effect on a human until I experienced it for myself. I find that the person I am at the chalet is kinder, more patient, more adventurous, and stronger than the person I am anywhere else.  It not just in myself that I this; it seems like no one leaves the chalet unchanged. I’ve watched girls push themselves to try things they never thought they could do, from hiking the peak of a mountain to watch the sunrise, snow tubing down an Alp, or abseiling into a gorge. I’ve seen leaders leave filled with pride after watching their groups take on every challenge side by side. I’ve been inspired by my chalet family who all have left their homes and families to share and learn from one another. Our Chalet has this uncanny ability to challenge each person to discover their potential.

I joke that at the chalet you are never really alone. While at times that can be the most frustrating feeling, it has become one of my favorite things about living here; it is constantly teaming with life. I’ve shared the staff house with 5 different seasons of vollies, and even though chaos reigns 90% of the time, I love the constant stream of people coming through every door and the laughter the always follows. I have met some of the most amazing women who support each other through every challenge and are always there to celebrate any win (even if that win is staying awake for karaoke in town). Our Chalet is my home and I am so glad I get to share it with all these crazy humans.

Guests regularly ask if I get tired; tired of the views, tired of the people, tired of the same adventures week after week. My answer is always the same: how could I? While in theory many days are the same (because the route up a mountain rarely changes), in reality no two days are ever are. The light on the mountains and valleys is always changing, each group brings new energy, and every single person who enters through the chalet doors changes it in some way. How can a person tire of these adventures?

This year, as we celebrate the 85th birthday of this amazing place, I can’t help but think of those who have come before me. What were their experiences like? Did they share the same sense of wonder and excitement upon arriving? Did they create memories filled with a sense of pride that they did things they never thought they were capable of? Did the relationships they began here last for years to come? How did Our Chalet change their life?

Before I came here I was told that there was something magical in the air that I would never be able to forget, and I wouldn’t agree more. Our Chalet has forever changed me and continues to make me the person I want to be, and I can’t wait to see what my future here holds.

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Sarah Wach – Programme Co-ordinator January 2015 to present

STAFF: International Day of Happiness – Bethanie (UK)

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Friday 20th March is International day of Happiness, a day dedicated by the UN to improving and celebrating people’s happiness globally. So we decided to make the day as happy as possible. We started off with chocolate in Morning Meeting (which makes everything better), listened to ‘happy music’ while washing up in the kitchen, and in the afternoon, we had a workshop led by Victoria (the marketing and communication intern) about happiness. We learnt about the ‘Action for Happiness Campaign’ which is a movement which “helps people take practical action to improve mental well being and to create a happier and more caring society.” They have some key points on how to lead a happier life, and we did activities to learn about each one.

10 Keys to Happier Living (and how we can achieve them at the Chalet and in real life)

    • Giving – doing things for others makes us happy! Whether it’s making your friend a birthday cake, or even just helping somebody carry laundry upstairs, even the smallest things count!
    • Relating – spend time with people. Sit with guests at dinner, or have evening chats with your friends that last long into the night.Social isolation causes as many early deaths as smoking. And the loneliness epidemic is twice as deadly as obesity!
    • Exercising – Walk the chalet hill every time you need something from town. Climb mountains, splash in a river, ski, sledge, dance!

    • Appreciating – Take some time out of your day to look at nature. It’s easier for me, living in the mountains, but even if you live in the city, take the time to count the spots on a ladybird, the petals on a buttercup. Notice the world you live in – it’s beautiful.
    • Trying out – even if you’ve left school, keep learning new things! I skied my first ever blue run, which was the most terrifying thing ever. I’m attempting to communicate in Swiss German more, and I learned that if you want to make egg mayo salad, you most defiantly do not try to microwave eggs!

      (Editors note: Bethanie was attempting to make an egg mayo by making scrambled eggs, here it sounds like she meant microwaving whole eggs in case you were concerned…)

  • Direction  – This one is about looking forward to things. It’s great to live in the moment, but by thinking about what you want in life, you feel more secure and have a greater sense of purpose. For example, I sorted my student finance, and have been thinking more about university, and what I might want to do after.
  • Resilience – Life is hard – it can be stressful and sometimes all you want to do is stay in bed. But finding ways to cope can really improve your happiness. Talking to people, going for walks, keeping a diary, cuddling a kitten.
  • Emotion – Trying to be optimistic, and letting yourself feel positive emotions has been shown to have long term effects on your health. If somebody compliments you – accept it. Don’t try to brush it off or make yourself seem bad. Feel proud of yourself, because you’re an amazing person!
  • Acceptance – In society, and especially at school, we are always told to better ourselves. Get an A*? Resit for 100% Have a really good work out at the gym? You’ll do faster, higher, stronger next time. And although it is really good to want to push ourselves, at some point you have to be happy with who you are! Be kind to yourself, don’t dwell on your faults and accept yourself!
  • Meaning – Being part of something bigger is great for making you feel less alone. I’m part of WAGGGS, I’m also part of the church, but any organisation counts. Join a charity or a club!

If you want to find out more about the action for happiness campaign, and how we can be more happy check out the website. There’s also some good advice if you’re struggling to be happy for whatever reason…

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/

Don’t forget to look at Bethanie’s own blog

Bethanie Pelloquin
Our Chalet Assistant – Spring 2015

GUESTS: To the memories that last – Irene and co. (UK)

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We have just returned to the busy world after having spent a few magical days at ‘Our (beloved) Chalet’, 2 – 6 March 2015. It was my doubtful privilege to lead a motley group of exceedingly senior past leaders, over whom I had absolutely no control at all. We are all still active in Guiding from the South West England Region of UK.

Altogether there are 10 of us; we met for the first time in Sangam 1st March 2011.  8 of us sharing the same dormitory all of a similar age, and 2 youngsters who befriended us or was it vice versa. However we seemed to gel and beginning of March each year since we try and meet somewhere. This year 7 of us who managed to join in our reunion and visit Our Chalet and we are very glad we did, it is Magic. Here are some of their comments:-

From Hazel

The arrival at Our Chalet was a joy, set in the snowy landscape with mountains towering all around. Finding our 4 bedded dormitory and clambering into the top bunk provided an interesting challenge! Eating and sharing evening activities with the young Spring Vollies who were as new as we were at Our Chalet was inspiring and fun, helping us to realise that Guiding will carry on down the generations as it has in the past century. Above all fun and fellowship with Guiding friends unknown to me before Sangam 2011. Delightful. What a great last evening enjoying campfire singing with the Vollies. We had SNOW so we could PLAY….even at our age!”

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From Carmen

Our Chalet was just as I imagined it, warm as toast, in such a beautiful setting. I kept thinking I was in a picture postcard. The bunk beds were fine once you finally managed to climb to the top of the ladder and get your leg over the bar…I might have managed the easily 20 years ago! I felt so comfortable there, as if I had been there many times before…or was it just the company of the staff, the volunteers and of course our little group.”

From Ali

The opportunity to go up Tschenten and enjoy the view, food and fun with good guiding friends. Building a snow lady and having a snowball fight at the chalet in deep soft snow was a bonus having had no snow where I live. Reminders to bring home included badges and woggles from the woodcarver and the memories made to last a lifetime.

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From Jane

The Chalet was everything I expected and more, the mountains in front of our bedroom window, and the stillness and peace there. We had a wonderful time playing with the snow, and found the staff, so very helpful. We had new volunteers in our week, I think we shocked them in a nice way, and we learnt from them and they from us. This is what our founders and the first committee wanted and it is still happening.

From me, Irene

On our arrival the staff, who were soon to become friends were warm and welcoming, and very helpful throughout our entire stay. On our first evening we met and mingled with all the new Vollies, at the beginning of their 3 month stint, and we wish them all well and hope they get as much enjoyment out of Guiding as we have.

Finally I would like to quote from one of the early Guest Book pages in the Golden Book in the WAGGGS Room. The page was titled ‘Take Time’ and I thought the following lines were as relevant to us all today as they were then.

Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness.

Take time to laugh – it is the music of the soul.

Take time to think, it is the source of power.

Take time to play – it is the secret of perpetual youth.

The memory of  my stay will linger forever as will the sweet voices of Staff and Vollies as they sang their haunting song of farewell:-

And when days have passed, to the memories that last,

Sisters come back again.’

We will return, if only in our hearts.

Irene and co.
Guests 2-6 March 2015

STAFF: Living something better than a dream! – Molly (UK)

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Guiding has always a big part of my life and continues to be so.
Both my Grandma and my Mum were keen Guides and encouraged me to join the Guiding family at a young age. I can’t thank them enough as my life has been completely enriched by the opportunities I have been given and embraced.

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Having decided to take a gap year between completing my A levels (exams in the UK which enable you to go to the University) and going to University I spent a very happy 6 weeks at the Sangam World Centre participating in the Community Programme in Pune, India and then to my great surprise was offered a chance to be part of the  Spring volunteer team at Our Chalet here in Adelboden, Switzerland.
Both opportunities have opened my eyes to such different cultures and made me realize how fascinating the world is and how truly interesting are the people who live in it.

Before arriving here, I could never have imagined what an amazing time I would have. I have made new friends with unique individuals from all over the world, each bringing their own culture and experiences to Our Chalet. Friends I will really cherish for ever.

We really are a true family, always laughing, joking and supporting each other through the more challenging times. It is certainly a special feeling to know that we are living together under one roof, getting to know each other and together creating new memories which will remain with us always.


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I am very proud to say I can now set a bed in 2 minutes, clean bathrooms in double quick time and cook food other than boiled eggs!

All my hopes have been exceeded by simply ‘living in the moment’ and taking on a variety of personal challenges from learning how to ski and walking down and up the hill every day!

I am now staying on as a summer volunteer which is extra special and will enable me to make the most of the fun of the summer season. I am certainly looking forward to the exciting activities on offer, such as abseiling, hiking, adventure park and swimming in an Alpine lake. I am planning to go paragliding for my birthday whilst I am here and can’t wait to have a go at the white water rafting.

I have recently enjoyed reading the diary of The Chief Guide, Lady Baden-Powell, who describes Adelboden so perfectly…

‘The sun was just up and I looked out from my bedroom window over the scattered roofs of the little houses of this mountain village to the valley below. The high mountain peaks opposite were aglow with light and wreaths of mist were wafting away across the face of the slopes…it was all so peaceful, so homely and so lovely’. – Lady Baden Powell

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Her choice of words couldn’t be more accurate as the picturesque scenery and snow covered mountain tops are just as beautiful today as they were during her visit. Our Chalet is truly an incredible place to spend time, no matter how old or how young you happen to be.

I am so grateful to everybody for giving me such life enriching opportunities and experiences I shall remember forever. Each day I ask myself how can this possibly get any better and it does!

My motto is now ‘Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile’.

Our Chalet has given me the chance to do all these things and more. Every person I have met here has shown me something new, true friendship and kindness, leaving an impact on me and helping to shape my future life.

Molly Braham – Spring and Summer Volunteer
UK