1am and the alarm was sounding, Scouts from the 12th Scout Troop were getting up to go on an Adventure to Switzerland, Kandersteg international Scout Centre – for me as a Leader I was returning to a place I myself went as a Scout 31 years ago.
Jumping in the car we made our way to Manchester Airport for an early flight, one of our Scouts had never been on a plane before so the adventure started for him there and then.
Landing at Geneva we tackled the conveyor belt of luggage looking for our bags, once found we were on the trains 2 to be exact. We landed at Kandersteg Train Station, we heard on the grape vine that Scouts wearing their Scout Necker’s would get a free bus ride into Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) and they weren’t wrong. Squeezing onto the bus with other Scouts all smiles we set of to KISC.
Once at the campsite more smiling faces of Scouts from around the world greeted us. We checked in with reception and quickly assigned a pinki (Centre Leader) to show us the site. Before we knew it we had the tents up and started to explore the camp site.
Hungry we got directions into town and set on our way to find food, walking along a river bank out of KISC we came upon the village. We found a supermarket and got some supplies and tucked in.
Walking back we again took in the views along the way. Once back to camp we went to our tents for an early night to catch up on some sleep.
A rest day ….. But were in Switzerland!!! it was a lovely sunny day, we joined in with the rest of the camp with other Scouts from around the world, Japan, Germany, Finish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swiss and of course British, for the Sunday morning parade. Where we were welcomed to KISC.
Once the parade was over our Scouts explored the campsite more. Joining in with others with a game of football
We heard there was an Outdoor swimming pool so a quick chat with the Scouts and we agreed with smiling faces to head off to the pool.
That night back at KISC was international Night, joining in we met Scouts from around the world with eating food and swapping badges and Necker’s, our Scouts set up their stall on the tables provided.
An early morning we took the bus trip to Jungfraujoch. – we then took a number of trains up the mountain to the top to take in the views, trying to find the exit to take in the views, the scouts found the lindor (CHOCOLATE SHOP !!!) and had to go in there first !!!!!
We managed to escape the shop to then follow the route to the sights and they were great!!
At the top you could take a sledge ride, practice your golf swing and or as our scouts did a snow ball fight!!!
We then continued our tour into the Ice Caves… with the ice sculptures
Once we had seen as much as we could we headed back to the train and onto the middle train station where we then hiked down the Eiger Trail to our waiting bus, back to the campsite.
Climbing – Winterigg
Another early morning and we were meeting the Pinkies again for our outdoor climbing session on Winterigg. A decision needed to be made as it was forecasted for thunder later on in the afternoon. Do we risk it knowing that if it does come in we would have to head back to camp, the feeling amongst the scouts was yes lets go for IT!! But there was others to consider, a Scouting mother and daughter were joining our group.
We arrived at our meeting point to find out that the mum and daughter were from Finland (we want to go climbing in the mountains they said – we don’t have mountains near where we live in Finland )
So off we went to Winterigg for climbing – we got kitted out and of we went to the cable car. Once at the top it was a short walk to our first climbing face, harnessed in we took turns on the rock face, this was a tester for those leading the climb to see how well we are. It wasn’t long before we had all had a go even me! We then moved onto the next rock face that was a little more challenging, this time we need to be steady on our feet! There was very little hand holes to pull us up it was more in the leg work to get ourselves up. This was challenging for some and also the leaders gave us a chance to belay.
Onto our final climb, this was much higher than the others and looked impossible for some. But we like a Challenge in scouts and we stepped it up and I’m happy to say all the Scouts gave it a go and were successful, as we were getting to the last of the sound of thunder came rumbling through the mountains. As the rest of the team packed up one of our scouts decided to do the large climb again. Wanting to beat his previous time, not that we were timing the climbs. Just as he got to the top, the heavy spots of rain were starting. Like James Bond he abseiled down the rock face and quickly packed up. Heading to the cable car to meet the rest we just to say got into the shelter before the heavens opened up and by god it did. He must have been waiting for us to get to the shelter. It flashed, clashed and poured down. It was that bad the cable car stopped mid-way. So we had to wait for about 30mins before the cable car started again, once in the station two you mountain bikers got off and we nervously got in. Of we went and down to the other station we went, by the time we got down you would have thought it hadn’t rained at all.
Rafting – Simmie Water
Another early morning and this time, a short train ride to take on our rafting session, it was raining but not as bad as last night, but we were going to get wet, we met our Rafting team and were issued with our wetsuit (there should be a badge for successfully getting into a wetsuit!!) and of to the water’s edge we went for our briefing. Once the safety talk was taken in we entered our raft, bouncing the raft of the edge of the river bank we were in!
Learning the ropes as instructed by our Raft Leader we were off paddling down the river, after last night’s thunder and the persistent rain this morning the river was flowing fast and proud. We bobbled about down the river learning as we went and came across the first rapid, it wasn’t long before we were getting bounced about and a good soaking as we went, to be honest it seemed to be
only the side I was sat on that was getting the brunt of it.
The scouts had a blast on this and were grinning from ear to ear as we went. We were told the course was 11 kilometre’s and it didn’t seem long and we were out.
Rest day – another day in KISC and it was a glorious one, the scouts were exploring the campsite again, they then came to us and asked if they could go to the pool again in town. It was a hot day and why not.
Toboggan and Oeschinen Lake
Our last full day on site, during the week we had discussed taking on the Toboggan and to visit Oeschinen Lake. On the bus to the town centre and a small walk over to the cable car we were on our way, at the top we got of the cable car, and to the left of us was the Toboggan track. A quick brief by those in charge and we were on and off up the hill in our little carts. Once at the top we were off back down the track with a break leaver for those that didn’t want to go to fast we zipped around the track. The scouts all had a couple of goes and once finished we headed off to the lake to explore. Some of us braved the waters for a swim, followed by our lunch.
Returning to the campsite we started to pack away some of our belongings, and then joined the Campfire Circle along with the rest of the KISC staff and visitors.
The week was over we had a blast, met so many scouting friends all with smiles on their faces. The staff couldn’t have been any more helpful and I’m sure the Scouts will have many a story to tell their friends about the time they visited Kandersteg International Scout Centre.
Maybe it won’t be another 31 years before these Scouts return. If you ever get the chance to go make sure you do.
GSL 12th Darlington Scout Group