When I look outside of the windows of the Admin Office now, Spring is presenting itself from its best side: bright, sunny and warm, with only a few small clouds passing by in the sky. Finally we have the weather everyone here has been waiting for. Because so far, after a strong start on D-Day, Spring didn't really convince us weather-wise: A lot of rain, even snow on a few days, and a very eventful weekend where the Föhn, a strong, hot mountain wind bringing warm air from Africa, took us all by surprise. But more on this later.
The biggest event this Spring by far was the First Inter-Regional Agora from the 14th-22nd April. Although Agora is already a well-established event organised by the European Scout Region in the KISC calendar, this year's edition was special in several ways. First of all, this year, there were not only Rovers from all over Europe meeting in Kandersteg to discuss the present and future of Rovering in their home countries, but Rovers from all around the world were invited to join and many of them answered this call! Even more than usual an international spirit could be felt at the Centre during those days, with participants coming from as far away as Canada for the meeting. Secondly, this year there were also Pinkies taking part in the event to represent KISC, but also their own NSOs at the Agora, contributing to interesting discussions and workshops. All of these factors lead 50 Rovers taking part in Agora, a huge success for the organisers, as this were way more participants than any of the years before. Highlight of the week was definitely the international evening with lots of different nationalities running different stands with delicious food and drinks typical of their native lands. Always a nice experience for Staff due to the many interactions with the Rovers, we are already looking forward to welcoming the next edition of the Agora the coming year!
Another exciting moment happened last weekend, on the 30th April at KISC. As was already decided at the last KISC Committee meeting, local scout groups will be able to sponsor rooms in the Kander-Lodge for a limited amount of time and then get a certain amount of free overnights in "their" room per year. Last weekend, the first room was adopted by a Dutch scout group / centre: Scouting Mira Ceti from Nistelrode is sponsoring the former "Kuh" room in Kander-Lodge, now renamed into "Mira Ceti" Room. As they themselves run a small Scout Centre in Nistelrode, you will find information and photos of their Centre in the room, as well as a very special wooden pole with a custom made bronze sculpture on top that any visitor of the room is free to sign, thus symbolizing the bond between scouts across country borders. Named after the brightest star in the Cetus constellation, we hope that the Mira Ceti room will be a guiding light in attracting more local groups to sponsor one of our Kander-Lodge rooms.
This week it was also time to again welcome the Spanish Work Party who came to help out in Grounds to get the Campsite ready for Summer, which always means a lot of fun and socializing for all the Pinkies with the Spanish Scouts, as well as a lot of traditional Spanish food to taste! As in previous seasons, this also meant that another sportive highlight of the year took place at KISC: The football game between Pinkies and Spanish Work Party which (again) was lost by the Staff, though incredibly close which leaves us with some hope for a better outcome next Autumn. So if you're a professional football player with experience in Champions League level clubs, you're welcome to apply for Staff at KISC in Autumn 2012. The week with the SWP was then rounded off with the Spanish Work Party Party, a highlight for all of the Staff members as this always means a lot of fun, games and songs with the Spanish, many different Spanish dishes and barbecue, as well as not much sleep the night after. In this way, the SWP was an amazing occasion at KISC for everyone involved!
On the Staff side of news, over the last few days, a lot of new LTS arrived at the Centre to start in their position for Summer. We said hello to AdbAlla (EG) as Campsite Assistant, Bjørn (NO) as House Assistant, Jay (US) as Campsite Manager, Lieveke (NL) as Programme Admin Assistant and Miguel (MX) as Shop Assistant. With the arrival of Eoin (IE), High Adventure Assistant, Laura (IE), Catering Assistant, and Rick (NL), Reception Assistant, in the next few days, the team for Summer 2012 will be complete!
The last two weeks two rather special Staff Night Outs also took place at KISC. We visited one of the bakeries in the village of Kandersteg, the Marmotte, where we made our own delicious Sunday bread, helped by their baker and later went for some amazing cake in the tea room. Another very popular Staff Night Out took place the previous week in Frutigen at the Schwingen Club: Schwingen is a traditional form of Swiss wrestling, the fights take place in piles of sawdust and at big, national contests the winner is awarded a cow! Very Swiss indeed. Although we weren't yet good enough to take part in a competition ourselves (the bruises and pain in various body parts the next day were proof of this), a part of the Staff team went to watch a Schwingen tournament in Frutigen on the weekend, mingling with the locals. A rather interesting experience and definitely a lot of fun!
Finally, to pick up on the beginning of these Latest News, we were also struck by a strong Föhn wind on the weekend of the 28th April. During Saturday night, the wind developed into a storm, reaching speeds of up to 200 km/h in the Bernese Oberland and the Valais, Kandersteg being hit by its full force as well. Fortunately, no one was harmed in the storm, but quite some damage was done around the village of Kandersteg and the KISC Campsite as well. For a few hours, the street to Kandersteg was blocked by a fallen tree and power was lost in a few parts of the village. This damage has been repaired by now, but there is still some trees lying on the Campsite. A first estimation after a walk over the Campsite on Sunday morning after the storm, about 200 fallen trees were counted on the campsite, as well as an equally high number in Higeldy Pigeldy Woods. A forester has been consulted and we are currently in negociations with contractors to clean up HP Woods. And although this means a lot of work on the Campsite to clear it from the trees, we were extremely lucky that there was almost no damage to structures or buildings so that nevertheless we will have the Campsite ready for our guests in Summer. Thanks again to Michael (DE), Sam (UK), Jens (IE), as well as to several Short Term Staff who were up all night keeping our guests safe and taking precautions to prevent unnecessary damage.
In hope that the summery weather will now finally last, especially now that the open air swimming pool in the village is due to open, we are ready to tackle the next weeks of Spring!
Pol Felten (LU)
PR & Marketing Assistant