Concordia Rangers in Switzerland - December 2011
Ever since Gill and Carole visited Our Chalet when they were Guides they have been determined to return and finally, in December 2011, that dream became a reality as Concordia Rangers and Leaders departed Hastings bound for Adelboden, Switzerland.
After an overnight Travelodge stay, we took off from Gatwick Airport and landed in Geneva a few hours later. Then followed several mad dashes for trains and a bus (complete with trailer for suitcases and skis) and finally, the snowy town of Adelboden came into sight and at the bus stop, smiling and waving Our Chalet ‘vollies’ (volunteers)! We jumped in the snow a bit and then loaded the cases onto the minibus and trekked up the hill (the song does not lie, Our Chalet really is “high up, high on the mountain”!) Rounding the corner of the drive and seeing the lights shine out from Our Chalet, with the snow all around, was a wonderful moment.
The next morning saw us all in the grounds of Our Chalet, accompanied by the vollies and a variety of tobogganing equipment. We spent several hours playing in the snow, whizzing down the steep hill and then climbing up again to have another go. The inflatable sledge was truly amazing and people shot down the hill at spectacular speed! The afternoon saw us walk into Adelboden to the new sports centre, where we skated on their large indoor ice rink. We visited the ski hire shop to check our equipment for the following day (all very organised as details emailed in advance) and then climbed the hill again where another lovely dinner awaited us. In the evening we had the Our Chalet tour and then tried our hand at some Swiss craft.
The following day was our ski day and after walking into Adelboden (we were definitely fitter by the end of the holiday!) we were taken by ski bus to Geils ski resort. Everyone managed very well, with some displaying particularly good skills for first-time skiers! Those that had skied before were able to go with a different instructor to more adventurous heights! Everyone just about remained in one piece (much to Rachel’s [First Aider] relief!) In the evening we took part in the Our Chalet campfire – a truly magical experience – where we shared some of our favourite songs and learnt some new ones too.
Sophie’s birthday was the next day and the Rangers awoke to balloons and decorations adorning our corridor! Following breakfast and present-opening, we set off for the woodcarvers, passing stunning scenery on our way – it was like we had stepped into Narnia! When we reached our destination, half of us went into the woodcarver’s shop and half sampled the delights of Cafe Blatti next door and then we swapped over. We returned to Adelboden via the Co-Op for more chocolate supplies and discovered an amazing slide in a children’s adventure playground – cue for much hilarity as Rangers and Leaders came whizzing down!
The evening saw us take part in the WAGGGS wide game in the Main Chalet, where we all increased our knowledge about the worldwide organisation of which we are proud to be a part.
The next day saw us hiking through extremely deep snow to Enstligen Falls, where we were treated to a snow BBQ. We had been hoping to go snow tubing at the top of Enstligenalp but unfortunately there had been so much snow in a short space of time that there were avalanche warnings and the run was not open. Instead, we donned snow shoes and trekked through the trees to see the majestic frozen Enstligen Falls and then took a cable car to the top of the mountain and went inside a real igloo! When we came down the mountain the Leaders decided that we would treat ourselves to a bus ride back to Adelboden, as everyone was a little weary from walking in such deep snow. It was amusing to see that the walk that had taken us a couple of hours took approximately 10 minutes on the bus! That evening we took part in Swiss night, with an extremely competitive quiz, sampling chocolate fondue and being entertained with the acting skills of some of our Rangers! We then sat in the dining room to sing some Christmas carols and then stood together, with the twinkling lights of Adelboden in the background, and renewed our Promise – a very special moment.
The following morning saw us say fond farewells to the staff and vollies (and Skippy the Cat!) and embark on the journey home, arriving back in Hastings that evening.
We all, Rangers and Leaders, had an amazing adventure in Switzerland. We would like to thank everyone who made Our Chalet 2011 from a dream into a reality - we have learnt things about ourselves and others and have memories that will last a lifetime.