The year was ’08 and I was fresh out of high school. This was about a year before I moved stateside. I had never travelled abroad at this point in my life. I was looking for volunteering opportunities abroad before I started college and really, was clueless on where to look for or how to apply. I happen to google volunteer opportunities one night and stumbled upon this little campground/ scout center in a sleepy little Swiss village called Kandersteg. I was instantly hooked! I dug deeper and found out that this magical place was called Kandersteg International Scout Center, or KISC, for short. Over the next few months, I sent many emails to the staff members at KISC and got to know more about their volunteer program. The best part was that I had just got my Eagle Scout Award at this point and volunteering at a scout center was truly a great idea. I applied a few weeks later for a short-term staff position and kept my fingers crossed. I finally got an email back from them early June saying I was selected to be a short-term staff member for fall 2008. The rest was history! I left for Kandersteg in early September of 2008. After a couple of layovers and having had my visa checked with a strange device to make sure that I was not an illegal immigrant, I finally arrived in Geneva. I bought a rail pass and hopped on the train from Geneva to Kandersteg the same day.
Kandersteg was picture postcard village. I was living in a sleepy Swiss village nestled at the base of the Alps for the next three months. Short-term staff were affectionately called “Shorties”. Kisc was made up of both long-term and short-term staff. The short-termers were seasonal. New short-term staff came in each season. The long-term staff usually had contracts that were six months or longer at the time I was at KISC. For the next three months, I worked many duties within at the Scout center. I worked with the catering crew and helped serve meals to over 500 boy and girl scouts visiting the center, assisted the grounds crew with maintenance tasks and even had the opportunity to interview with a local reporter for an article he was running about KISC.
Some of the highlights of my time in Switzerland:
- Hiking the Swiss alps (with a cat in-tow)
- Teaching a swede how to tie snow-shoes to a sledge and sledge downhill !!
- Visiting Luzern, Interlaken and Bern
- Exploring underground tunnels in Aarau (a small town near the German border) with the local scout group
- Meeting many great people from all over the world and sharing some great experiences
- Learning to make authentic Swiss Fondue (Mmmm….!!)