Mountains and Memories: International Rover Week in Kandersteg, Switzerland

Alison Millward and Caitlin Wood

In July we found ourselves at Kandersteg International Scout Centre’s International Rover Week.  This week brought Rovers from all over the world to a campsite in the Swiss Alps where we made memories and friends that we will treasure forever.

Over the 10 days of the camp we got to see some of the most beautiful sights the Swiss Alps have to offer.  We spent our days hiking, swimming, and getting to know our new international friends.  We were joined by Rovers from Egypt, Sweden, Finland, America, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Germany, and the Seychelles.  All of us learnt so much about the many similarities and differences between our cultures and our respective Scouting movements.

On our first day we hiked to a beautiful lake called Oeschinensee, where we spent the day swimming and canoeing in the absolutely freezing Swiss water. The next day we got to know KISC a little more and were introduced to the Messengers of Peace program.  We came up with our own service project to complete later on in the week. The following day we went to the Kandersteg swimming pool, which was framed by the most amazing views of the Alps.  That afternoon we set off on a two-day hike up in the mountains. We spent the night at the Upper Hut, and were very pleased to make use of the kitchen that had been donated by Scouts Australia.

Sharing this experience with Scouts from all over the world has given us access to skills and perspectives that will ensure that Scouting in Australia reflects the best that world scouting has to offer.

In the morning we set off on the Three Valleys hike, which took us up above 2500 meters, where we were greeted with stunning views out over the Alps.  The next day we learnt survival skills in the forest behind camp, dubbed ‘The Higgledy Piggledy Woods’. These skills included water purification, shelter building, making damper, and fire lighting.  We were joined by a local reporter, who was writing a story about International Rover Week.  He was so enamored with the group that he spent the entire day with us, and then invited us to come see him in his home town of Adelboden later in the week. That afternoon we took part in an alternative energies workshop.

We have made friendships that will last a lifetime, and we would not trade this experience for the world.

On Friday night we all went to the International Camp fire where we performed ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ in 10 different languages and did a dance that we learnt from one of the Irish Rovers. We also got to see skits and songs from groups from all over the world. On Saturday we were all able to choose our own activity for the day.  Caitlin went Paragliding, and then a couple of us went to try out the local High Ropes course. This was incredibly fun and rewarding, despite ending with many bruises and some rope burn.

On Sunday morning we participated in a Flag break ceremony, which soon morphed into an exceptionally muddy international games day. That afternoon we participated in the ‘Evolving the Alps’ Hike, where we learnt about the make up of the region.  The next day we headed up the mountain to try out an activity called ‘Trotti Bikes’, where we raced down the mountain on suped-up scooters.  Our final day we spent doing our service project, which involved helping out the camp staff, loving called the Pinkies, with their daily duties.  It mostly involved getting covered in mud and picking up litter in bright yellow rain coats.

The ten days that we spent at KISC were some of the best of our lives.  Sharing this experience with Scouts from all over the world has given us access to skills and perspectives that will ensure that Scouting in Australia reflects the best that world scouting has to offer.  We have made friendships that will last a lifetime, and we would not trade this experience for the world.

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