Journey from Visitor to Volunteer – Kalia (Mexico)

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Kalia is a current Spring Volunteer at Our Chalet and has shared her World Centre journey from visitor to volunteer.

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Hailey’s World Centres Story (USA)

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Hello Everyone! IMG_7191
My name is Hailey and I am from the United States. I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelors Degree in Community Planning. Currently, I am a 2017 Spring Volunteer at Our Chalet and come the end of May, I will be moving to Sangam to be a Long Term Monsoon Season Volunteer.

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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: 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).

“The girls just want to know when I will take them back!”

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Hello and warmest wishes to everyone,

Life has been busy since we got back from our wonderful trip to Our Chalet. 

We have collected everyone’s photos and we are putting together a presentation evening next week for parent’s and people who donated money towards our trip. I am looking forward to the evening to relive the wonderful experience.

I cannot thank everyone enough for making our trip so special and so much fun.
The girls just want to know when I will take them back!
The girls who had chosen not to come with us have heard so much about the trip that they are wanting to book up now for the next time.

Caitness Guides Rangers with Chalet Staff

I hope that this finds everyone well.

Kindest Regards
Elspeth

Caithness Guides and Rangers
Winter Adventure Week Participants, February 2014