Hello, my name is Georgie, I'm from Leicester in the UK, and I am a spring volunteer here at Our Chalet!
Over the last two months I must have said these words almost one hundred times, but I never get tired of saying them. That's because I am spending three months volunteering in the Swiss Alps - something I never thought I would get the chance to do! My role as an Our Chalet Assistant involves everything from leading hikes to cooking dinner for 50 people, and I’m loving every minute.
Our Chalet is one of the 5 WAGGGS World Centres for Guides and Girl Scouts around the world. 2017 is not only the Centenery of Leicestershire Guiding, but it also marks Our Chalet's 85th Birthday, so this year is extra special for many reasons.
So what is life at Our Chalet actually like?
Located in Adelboden, a village in the Swiss Alps, Our Chalet is perfectly placed for winter sports - I have tried skiing, sledding and airboarding so far. Although skiing was great fun, it turned out to be quite difficult to learn from a YouTube video... I spent most of the time on the ground, trying to figure out how to get back up. Now the snow is beginning to melt away, and we alternate between snowy days and sunny days (of around 15-18 degrees), hiking is becoming even more popular. However we hike whatever the weather.
Hiking is also a popular activity that guests choose to do during their break at Our Chalet, so often the volunteers get to go out and about, leading groups on hikes. Recently, I have taken girls from Shropshire, Yorkshire and Lebanon on a hike to Switzerland's second highest waterfall, and a group based on the Belgium/Netherlands border to the local Woodcarver’s shop.
On a typical working day, I might start with preparing breakfast or running the on-site shop and reception (or enjoy a lie in if my rota allows). Every working day includes a morning meeting at 9:30am, where all the staff get together to plan for the day. Our morning tasks usually include preparing rooms, cleaning the common areas and each volunteer either helps prepare for, or clean up after, lunch. Then the afternoon is an opportunity to relax, go on a hike or run, work on a special project, or attend a meeting or workshop about something specific, such as budgeting. Napping is also sometimes a popular option! Then we would prepare dinner, and eat with all the guests - a great opportunity to find out about the other countries represented at Our Chalet. In the evening we would tidy up the kitchen (which often involves lots of singing) and then join an evening programme with the guests, or return to the volunteer house for some fun, such as a chocolate fondue, movie night or campfire.
Back in Leicestershire,
I am a member of 1st Hinckley's Senior Section, and I first found out about the World Centres at the County International Selection Weekend. I am so grateful to the International Team in Leicestershire for helping me find out about this opportunity!
I have met so many amazing people and learnt so much already. Our Chalet is also a brilliant place to meet people from all over the world. As well as the guests, we have a truly international staff team representing Guides and Scouts from countries including Mexico, Sweden, Japan and Kenya. If you are a ranger or leader (or anyone in guiding over 18) I would strongly recommend volunteering at a World Centre. Guides of any age can also come to visit, or take part in events. Volunteering at Our Chalet has certainly given me plenty of Guiding goosebump moments already, and I can't wait to continue the adventure in May!
For more information you can check out the Our Chalet website: https://www.wagggs.org/en/our-world/world-centres/our-chalet/