By Gina Belle, Commissioner for the Environment & Young Leader
My Guiding experience at Our Chalet strengthened my belief in the world of Guiding being a place of trust, challenge and achievement!
Having seen the advertisement for Walking Week September 14-21, 2012 posted on the WAGGGS website for a number of weeks, I decided to check out the details and investigate the possibility of me being able to attend.
Just about six weeks prior to the event I made up my mind that I would embark upon a trip to Switzerland and realize my dream of visiting Our Chalet. The programme activities planned for Walking Week 2012 presented not only an opportunity to visit the World Centre, but also to be exposed to a part of the history and culture of the Switzerland and the ongoing initiatives and work of the WAGGGS.
Venturing from my tiny tropical island of Barbados, I hardly knew what was awaiting me in the upcoming week. As I travelled on my own for twenty long hours I began to question my decision as the nerves set in.
I was comforted as I caught a glimpse of the trefoil in my promise pin and sensed that at the end of my travel there would be a number of people waiting to greet me who had journeyed to Our Chalet with a similar purpose.
As I arrived at the Adelboden Oey bus stop, all my fears and worries quickly wiped away upon seeing the Our Chalet van and being greeted with a big smile from Heather, the autumn volunteer.
Later that night, as all the participants sat in the welcome meeting, I was reassured that the week would be one that could never be forgotten. It promised to be filled with the challenge and adventure that the activities at Our Chalet were widely known for. I am sure I can speak for all participants when I say that this promise was indeed fulfilled as the week went by.
For me, it was indeed a week I will never forget as it was a week of many ‘firsts’. I climbed to my first mountain peak, touched snow for the first time and also made my first snowball at Elisghorn.
My first snowball victim was Katie, the Our Chalet’s wonderful Programme Manager. I took my first trek through snow as we climbed to Tschingellochtighorn and descended back to Engstligenalp. I was able to try my hand at wood burning when we visited the Trummer family of woodcarvers.
The experience of setting out to hike under the stars as we made our way to the Cheesemaker’s hut that would be our shelter for the night was incredible and this afforded us the opportunity to watch the sun rise over the distant peaks as we watched from the summit of Bunderspitz. I walked in the wind and rain at 5oC as we crossed from Sillerenb?hl to the Hahnenmoos pass. On the final hiking day we hiked along a white-blue-white alpine hiking trail as we made our way across the face of Gs?r.
The adventure of Walking Week 2012 was not limited to the daytime walking activities but the meal times and evening activities that allowed for further interaction among participants were just as enjoyable. The Robin Hood singers during the international festival, the ‘Swiss Jeopardy’ on Swiss night and the WAGGGS Centenary Wide Game on WAGGGS night all contributed to this unforgettable experience. The final evening activity, the closing ceremony and campfire, provided the opportunity for all participants to reflect on the week that had passed and share their most memorable experiences.
Being presented with my Our Chalet Challenge Badge at the campfire was the ultimate reward for undertaking the unique mental and physical challenges that were presented on each day of the week. For me it was a moment of great pride and immense satisfaction!
I would like to say a huge thank you to the team of staff and volunteers at Our Chalet who worked tirelessly to conceptualise, plan, and execute the challenge and adventure that Walking Week 2012 turned out to be. Congratulations on a job very well done!