Rover Week Participants 2018

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Rover Week 2018 was without a doubt one of the best weeks that I will have had in my life. I’m not from the WAGGGS community, I’m from WOSM (World Organisation of the Scout Movement) and so I was really surprised that Our Chalet helped me with a scholarship and admitted me on the event.

WAGGGS really is “A world of possibilities” and Our Chalet lives up to that statement too.

During my week at Our Chalet, I got to know a lot about the history of WAGGGS and especially a lot about the beautiful history of Our Chalet. Not all the planned programme activities could go ahead due to bad weather, however I was amazed at how the Our Chalet staff tackled this situation by giving us a variety of other activities to do instead. The Our Chalet staff went far beyond expectations.

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The Guides and people I met from other countries helped me learn a lot about their cultures and their perspectives about life. I’m very glad they were open and shared stories, songs, jokes and adventures with me.

The Chalet itself is a very warm, clean, organized and interesting place. The walls are full of history and every room has its own touch. In addition to that, the views you get of the surrounding nature are amazing. It’s a place where I would like to live one day.

I strongly recommend that every Guide and Scout from around the world experiences this amazing place and if you want to get more insights from anyone involved in Scouting that has been there, you can email Our Chalet or even me.

Thanks for everything Our Chalet, it was amazing!

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Daniel Eduardo Pedraza Sepúlveda, Scouts of Mexico

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Dear Guiding Community,

Firstly, I would like to thank the Our Chalet Staff and all the people who have made donations and granted me the opportunity to have this experience. I had an amazing week during my stay, even though we did not get to do all the activities planned for Rover Week 2018, because it was raining and there was not enough snow for it. I am grateful that you all keep finding different activities for us to do.

The day I enjoyed the most was the opening ceremony and the hike to the Enstligenalp, where we had a BBQ in the snow, visited an igloo and went snow tubing. It was a beautiful day and we got to play in the snow and see the wonderful landscapes with the mountains covered in snow.

In addition to this, I had the opportunity to make new international friends and learn more about their cultures and their traditions. They will always be in my heart and I hope to get to see them again soon.

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Ana Lucía Garza García, Guides of Mexico

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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: Make a wish! – Somto (NGA)

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I have been here at Our Chalet in the Swiss Alps as a volunteer for the winter season. Taking the decision to come here wasn’t easy because I had to put a lot of things on hold. But from planning my journey and finally arriving it was worth it. My dream of seeing snow came true though, I saw snow, I felt snow, I walked in it and I experienced all kinds of it and waking up every morning and seeing the whole place including mountains tops look white and beautiful always brings peace to my soul. I have seen so many beautiful sites and lots of memorable experiences, each and everything I do daily is new and wonderful.

To start with we had a white Christmas and New Year celebrations, it’s the first time I have spent Christmas away from home, not just away from home but far away from home in a different environment, with different people and cultures. It wasn’t the same but it was fun anyway. We went on a trip to the Christmas market in Bern, it was cool and I fell in love with the city.

somto groupWe have been hiking to different places; Woodcarvers, Engstligen waterfalls and going snow tubing. Walking in the snow always makes me feel like am on the moon! I also used the snow shoes for the magic tree snow shoe hike which was great. It might also interest you to know that two different wishes I made at the magic tree came true; so do try and make a wish at the magic tree anytime you visit our chalet!

Soon it was time to learn how to ski, I enrolled for some ski lessons and can proudly say I know how to ski even though am not an expert.  I am yet to perfect making turns – the skis are their own masters and they never bend to your command until they have flung you on to the ground a few times first!

It’s fun and interesting to know that you have to put in so much energy to control some tiny objects!

I had a great time during the ski world cup held in Adelboden, it was awesome watching professionals ski in real life and listening to the beautiful tunes and background music that were playing. We also managed to get into the village that night to see other events (such as the bib picking ceremony) that were taking place. It was so much fun.

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One of the best activities that I enjoyed doing here was sledging, it’s so much fun, especially sledging at night – I will really miss that! I also had a go on the airboard and another of my dreams came true when I went paragliding. I lack words to describe how I felt but it was very good!  One thing I learned here is just how cold it can be, it is never this cold back home in Nigeria!

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It has been a wonderful experience and I have enjoyed every bit of it, there is so much fun in the Swiss Alps, there is so much fun high up in the mountains and much more fun lies beneath the roof of Our Chalet.

Chinweoke ‘Somto’ Orakwute (NGA)

Our Chalet Assistant – Winter 2013/14

STAFF: I love my job! – Beckie (UK)

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There are not many jobs where, after finishing the washing up on an evening, you can go and spend a few hours with young women from around the world, learn about their cultures, swap some badges and bracelets and other interesting things, dance some African dance, get a henna tattoo and laugh hysterically at a certain Lebanese girl’s brilliant jokes.

Where is this job you ask? That job, is my job.

Beckie at Helen Storrow Seminar 2013

As I’m drawing to the end of my time here at Our Chalet, this wonderful International Evening with the Helen Storrow Seminar Participants reminds me why I love this place so much.

It is not for the nature, nor the escape. Whilst I love the towering mountains and the peace that surrounds this beautiful place, the true magic here at Our Chalet is the people.

Whether they are guests passing through, or staff you live and work with for months, the international environment and the friendships made are incredible.

There have been some incredible moments here at Our Chalet, from hiking up Elsighorn or going paragliding, to singing round the campfire with all the Winter Vollies before they left. Ski days with Meg, from glorious sunshine “Race you down” days, to blizzards and “Can you even see your skis?” days.

Learning to snowboard thanks to Monse, and dance Rwandan style with Sonia. The similarities between the Scottish and Irish humour with Nic, and the awe at Rach’s insane planning and organising – maybe it’ll rub off? As for Sam, programme intern, roomie for the last three weeks, I will miss you loads, but most of all: “Sammmm!? Make me popcorn!?”

Beckie on Elsighorn

And as for the work I hear you say? I have learnt a lot whilst being here. For example, I quite enjoy cleaning a few bathrooms, I love a day as kitchen coordinator, just chilling and cooking and cleaning.

There is a certain feeling of achievement when you feed everyone for the day and then still manage to leave the kitchen sparkling by 7pm.

Boris the Snowplough is my friend, and Derek the Dishwasher just needs a little encouragement.

We’re a mad bunch here, or maybe that’s just me.

As for Programme, I love programme. Leading hikes and sledging days through the winter, cooking bratwurst on a barbeque in the snow, watching groups awe at the frozen waterfalls. You know life is pretty sweet when a day in work can sometimes be a day’s sledging, perhaps followed by an evening running campfire.

Campfire is a beautiful thing. Not simple the fire its self (which yes, I could watch forever), but the atmosphere and the sharing and the people. Before the Winter Vollies left, we had a final campfire.

Beckie the Scottish ladyIt was truly beautiful. Some of the new Spring Vollies shared songs with us, Sonia tried to teach us songs in French, Kinyarwandan, and I think Kenyan. She then promptly laughed at us all failing.

It was a pretty emotional campfire, with “Say why, do we have to say goodbye” setting us off somewhat. It was very sad to see my winter family leave, but I quickly had to pull myself together “Hello SPRING!”

The Spring Vollies are a great bunch, and whilst it’s sad I can’t spend longer with them, I’ve tried to pass on all my knowledge and tips and tricks before I leave.

I will be very sad to leave Our Chalet, I am now yet another person who will be calling Stokli “Home”. But it is time to move on – to Denmark! To Denmark for a reunion with Monse and Meg!

So, what was it like to volunteer at Our Chalet? Well, I spent 3 beautiful months telling everyone “I love my job!”

Beckie Davies
Winter volunteer and Short term Spring volunteer – 2013

STAFF: A winter wonderland – Monse (Chile)

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Today is the last day of this unforgettable experience and that’s why I would like to write about the life I lived here with my fellow Winter vollies.

Winter crew 2013 - Elsighorn

Like always… When you are in a new place start was not easy… Getting used to live with 6 strangers and work in a new environment.

But slowly I became part of this place.

The view of the mountains at my window each morning, the morning meetings with list of daily jobs and the funny stories, lovely days on programme with nice guess, the afternoons singing at the kitchen and the nice cozy times with strangers that in not more than 10 weeks became my family.

The time went flying over our heads and between good and difficult moments, but somehow we learnt to enjoy the good times and to support each other during challenging ones. And those hard times were the ones that make us one… a team… a unique group of people that learnt to call home that wooden building and learn to call 6 strangers a family.

The Columbus of Elsighorn - Monse

Now time to say goodbye is here and nobody can stop it… not even our silly list of excuses “Reasons not to leave” that we’ve made and is now safely stored for future generations on our season’s volunteer page in Stöckli book.

We’ve said goodbye already to part of our family… but there’s this hope that we will meet again somewhere… sometime.

To the new vollies I wish you girls all the best… I hope you will have the time of your life!
To our Long term staff and interns… thanks for everything!
To Our Chalet, to Our Home and to Switzerland… thank you for this amazing time.
And how we say in Chile… Buena Caza!

Monse (Chile)

Winter Volunteer 2012/2013

 

STAFF: The infamous staff challenge – Meg (UK)

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Meg Photo

So much has happened here over the past few weeks it’s hard to know where to start, so as I sit, looking up at the snow covered mountains and the town preparing for the Ski World Cup this weekend, I’ll refer to our handbook and the infamous staff challenge.

For those of you who have not been fortunate to be a part of the Our Chalet staff team, the staff challenge consists of 50 challenges, each worth a number of points from 1-5. In order to complete the staff challenge, we must earn at least 80 points during our season here.

When I first saw it, I have to admit I though ‘Who on earth would be crazy enough to do any of this?’ Then I realised that I was, and so, in true Our Chalet style, I’ve found myself doing some things I never thought I would. Here are some examples of the things we’ve done since arriving here:

Make an outdoor picnic for the staff [3 points]

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As it’s been a little quieter here this week we thought we’d take the opportunity to have lunch outside in the sun.

The theme: Teddy Bears – food will only be given to those with one of the aforementioned toys (ish.) Most of the food had something to do with leftovers wrapped in pastry, followed by Beckie’s delicious cupcakes and Rachel’s fairy bread (buttered bread sprinkled with hundreds and thousands – yum!)

Camp overnight in a tent [3 points]

We chose New Years Eve to do this – figuring that we’d be awake half the night anyway, so once most people were going to bed, three of us grabbed as many sleeping bags, blankets and tarps as we could get our mittened hands on and headed out to the campfire tent.

We stoked the fire a bit, and set up our beds. It really felt quite cosy. I think I slept from about 2:30am-5am, then woke up cold, and spent the next hour and a half getting gradually colder.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been daft enough to sleep in a huge, gapy tent in minus temperatures or not, but what you discover is that no matter how many layers of tarp, roll mat, blanket you put down, the ground drains, literally sucks, the heat out of you, until you’re left like an insulated block of ice.

At 6:30am we decided we’d done the challenge, and came inside for a beautiful two hours sleep before getting up for brunch prep.

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Sing happy birthday in 3 languages [2 points]

We had this sorted by the first day. There are so many different nationalities living and working together it’s hard not to know it in a few languages!

We then made a Christmas video with Merry Christmas in all the languages spoken by centre staff.

Learn a fact about Switzerland that no-one else knows [1 point]

There are more banks than dentists.There you go!

Stay submerged knee-high in a river or lake for 5 seconds [4 points]

I’ve yet to find a good moment to do this, but the favourite spot with the two vollies who have is in the river at the bottom of the hill, where it provides great entertainment for passing locals!

Write an article or news item (with photos) for the Our Chalet website [3 points – no, I don’t understand the scoring system either]

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Sorted!

To find out the rest you’ll have to come and see for yourself!

Auf Wiederloege

Meg Longman (UK)
Winter Volunteer 2012-2013