2011 - Vintage Edition
Hoping that you all had a very happy Christmas with family and friends and that you are all enjoying your holidays. We have some news from KISC with a special vintage flavour. As we are now approacching the final countdown for a new 365-days of possibilities, adventure and new experiences we thought it would be great to tell you a heart warming story about KISC... in the 40s!
We ran into this story without even knowing it, in fact when Mr. & Mrs. Morris arrived at Reception and asked to check in, it appeared to be one of those moments we see everyday, a couple of guests just arriving at KISC. But once Mr. Morris said he visited Kandersteg shortly after World War II we saw the wonder of the situation and of his story! It only took a couple of hours for them to become very popular among Staff and the other guests, this is because of their lovely smiles, their kind manner and sharing bits of their lives with others. Mr. Morris was involved in Scouting since his childood while Mrs. Morris was a Guide, a Sea Ranger and later on a unit helper for the local Brownie and Guide groups.
Mr. Morris visited the Centre in September 1948, he travelled to Switzerland on his own to participate in a Climbing Course organised by Kandersteg International Scout Centre, which back then, was the Scouts Alpine Club - Scouts International Chalet. That year was very successful for the Centre as there were more than 110 participants (from the UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, Switzerland, Armenia, Finland, USA and many other countries) to the Alpine Weeks. In particular, a group of 32 Scouts from the UK which stayed at KISC for a couple of weeks in September, among them was Brian Arnold Morris, 17 years old from Liverpool.
The reason why those English teenagers found themselves experiencing a unique adventure in Kandersteg was the War Service they had done with their Scout patrols and groups between 1941-1945. Many Scouts all over Europe had helped their countries war efforts in many ways. In the UK, Scouts like Brian were assisting as messenger boys, packing Red Cross food parcels and moving timber in the woods, sometimes with Italian and German war prisoners. It was hard work for Brian and his Scout patrol but there were also moments of fun despite there being a war. The Italian prisoners were constantly monitored, but still managed to have the odd game of football with the Scouts: not quite the shifting wood they were supposed to be doing! At the end of the conflict, Brian and his patrol, together with other Scouts from the UK were offered a trip to Kandersteg to particpate in a Climbing Course as a reward for their work during the war. Brian was the only Scout from his troup to take up the offer, but was joined by other Scouts from Blackpool, Birmingham, Newton Abbott, Luton, Plymouth, Acombe York, Durham, Halifax, Berkhamsted and Liverpool. Their names can still be found in the Climbing Log Book here at KISC.
All participants were arranged into patrols, the Whympers, the Clangers, the Chamois (of which Brian was part), the Hornhoppers and additionally an International patrol featuring Scouts from Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. They were the only "tourists" in Kandersteg, except for an English couple who were staying in the village. Mr. Morris still remembers seeing them everyday, while on his way to the peaks, they were standing outside the Hotel Schweizerhof in the early morning in their Edwardian clothes with fancy tweeds and long hats waiting for their guide to bring them up into mountains.
Mr. Morris was staying in the Old Chalet (the only building back then), he remembers the Centre as simple but adequate for the time, however to him it felt like a luxury staying indoors instead of camping! The first days were for training and then everyday was a adventure of its own up in the Alps with ice axes, goggles and professional training provided by their guides Fritz Ögi and Moritz Vuilliomenet from Kandersteg. They learnt all about rock and ice climbing, walked on a glacier, cut ice steps, managed some very difficult ascents and once almost got lost on the Fründerhorn due to a quick weather change. He said it was a great feeling to be there, high up "chaps above the clouds"! Some of those moments are recorded on paper both as diary resumé in the log book and as photographs taken by Mr. Morris himself with his '5 Shilling Box Brownie' camera. Looking at those pictures, pages of handwriting, little figures and the vast mountains in black and white really sends a shiver down the spine!
This is a true story that came back to shine after 62 years! Mr. Morris remembered how far it was between going to Switzerland from Liverpool, even further than going to the World Scout Jamboree in France the year before! Back in those days most kids of his age didn't even have a passport!
Luckily other things haven't changed that much, at least here in Kandersteg. Every year Scouts stilll follow in the footsteps of Mr. Morris. In the summer you may happen to hear groups singing behind their guide while walking up to the Fründenhütte to do a snow and ice course, or you might see Scouts hanging outside the Chalet in the morning.
With those moments in our mind and with hundreds more of all the Scouts and Guides that have passed through the Chalet in the history of KISC, including Roy Lanigan from Jarrow Co. Durham who was Mr. Morris' over 20 room mates - we like to end this year and look forward.
Soon we'll be cheering to a New Year raising our glasses, blowing in our toy trumpets and partying till morning! In particular here at KISC, we will celebrate by having a nice dinner with all our guests and all Staff and then hitting the dancefloor with extravagant 'Rock & Pop Stars' costumes. We expect to see a lot of Lady Gagas and Katy Perry... but we hope to get surprise by someone dressing up like Simon & Garfunkel or Run DMC. So from all the KISC crowd of guests and Pinkies: we wish you a rocking New Year!
See you at KISC in 2011!
Luisa Fontanazza (IT)31.12.2010
PR & Marketing Assistant