Kandersteg has turned into land of snow completely covered in white. And although the weather gods tried several times to get rid of the snow by sending down some rain, the white veil remained on the floor of the valley and as the rain turned back into snow even grew thicker. For all of our guests staying over Christmas and New Year's Eve this meant perfect conditions for Ski Week 1 and lead by Julie (DK) and Irene (CH) they speant a fantastic time on the slopes in and around Kandersteg. But not only guests and ski guides are hitting the slopes at the moment, more than on Staff Member spends their lunch break rather on skis or a snowboard than in the Staff Room!
But let's start at the beginning: Christmas! After the training for the Winter STS finished, the first rather busy week of the season, the week before Christmas arrived upon us. Not only did the entire Centre have to decorated in the most Christmassy way possible, with several Christmas tree and festive decorations, also guests had to be looked after which allowed only a short time for the Shorties to get used to the rush that Catering can be at times. And in between all of this, every Pinkie also had to find some time to organize a Christmas gift for his or her secret Santa. For those of you not accustomed to that tradition, here at KISC this secret Santa has become a tradition for Christmas: Everyone is given the name of another Staff Member and has to find a present for that person, without the other one knowing who the present came from. This leads to a lot of funny surprises and laughter on Christmas Eve, but makes sure that everyone has at least one gift to look forward to on Christmas.
But no only were we all looking forward to Christmas gifts, but also the two special dinners on Christmas Eve and Day together with our many guests. For many Pinkies this was the first time celebrating Christmas away from their home, but together with friends here at the Centre instead. The dinner did not disappoint in any way, most mothers back home could not have done much of a better job - probably the biggest compliment towards the Catering team. On Christmas Eve we were having an onion soup, roasted pork in delicious whisky gravy, spätzli, caramelized chestnuts and a nice tiramisú as dessert. And while everyone thought this would be hard to top the next day, the kitchen managed to do so by serving pumpkin soup, turkey with roasted potatoes and various vegetables, as well as Baileys cake as dessert. And as there was plenty of turkey left, the next few days Pinkies could be seen eating any possible varieties of turkey in coffee breaks, for lunch and dinner, be it turkey sandwiches, tortillas with turkey and cheese or turkey pie. I'm pretty certain that no one managed to lose any weight over these few days!
And while Ski Week 1 started after Christmas, it was also time to welcome 12 Rovers from 8 different countries for the New Year's edition of KISC's International Rover Week. Although there were a bit less people than in Summer, the atmosphere was great and the entries in the Centre's guest book are proof that all the participants thoroughly enjoyed their stay with us! Led by Miguel (MX), staying on from Autumn as a Helper for the first few weeks of Winter, they experienced typical Winter activities while making new friends from all over the world, a point especially facilitated by the smaller number of participants. Amongst others, the Rovers took part in the Gemmi Hike'n'Sled, had a Sauna evening to relax after a day off with activities planned by themselves, went on a Snow Adventure day where they were snowshoeing up to the Oeschinensee just to sled down again to go curling on the local ice rink. They also explored the snowy campsite on a light trail, followed by a Winter Campfire where the new Shorties had the first opportunity to stage the legendary Staff skit. On their last evening at KISC, an International Evening was organized for the Rovers where they could tell the others about Scouting in their home countries and let them have a taste of their national specialties! They all enjoyed the international atmosphere at KISC and some of them got really interested in this international aspect of Scouting, giving them new motivation to take back home to their troops! We hope to carry on this spirit to our next International Rover Week that will hopefully be hosted in Summer - more information to follow on that soon!
On a more sad note, the last two remaining Helpers that had stayed on after their Shortie season in Autumn, Kyle (US) and Miguel (MX), also undertook their journey back home this week. We want to thank them for their help during their almost 4 months at the Centre and hope to welcome them back here again some time soon.
But not only did their stay at KISC come to an end, 2011 took its end to welcome a new year at KISC! This was celebrated with on New Year's Eve with yet another a special buffet dinner followed by the New Year's Eve Disco for guests, Rover Week participants and Staff. As it is the custom here at KISC, these end of the year parties are accompanied by a theme, and this year "Safari" was chosen for this. The entire night, elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions, hunters, Sanatas on Safari or other people in Safari-themed costumes could be seen roaming the Centre, turning the Main Hall into a dancefloor! Especially the Rovers taking part in the International Rover Week made sure that everyone was shaking to the beats from Melanie (UK) and Catarina (PT), our two DJs for the night. After coming to an end at about 1 o'clock in the Centre, the party continued in the village and a lot of people were seen coming to work with very tired eyes the next morning.
On New Year's Day, in the evening, the Centre was attacked by the Pelzmartiga - young men from the village disguised as furry monsters and folklore characters that are supposed to bring good spirits to the new year, after chasing them away in a similar ceremony on Christmas Day! This always involves some very smelly hugs - imagine the smell of a wet dog - and Staff Members being thrown into the snow outside, apparently we carry too many bad spirits around, which makes this even more popular among guests!
With the start of 2012, it is also time to announce the publication of KanderActive 2012, KISC's very own activity brochure. In it, you will find all the information you need to plan your stay at KISC, completed with the information available right here, on our website. You can download your digital copy right here or, for those that don't consider themselves digital natives, order a paper copy online by filling out this form. Together with the website KanderActive 2012 is a very powerful tool to make sure you get the best out of your trip to Kandersteg.
If you want to see more of what has been going on at the Kandersteg International Scout Centre, have a look at our photo gallery with all the recent photos. Who knows, maybe you'll find yourself in one of them?
To a great year 2012!
Pol Felten (LU)03.01.2012
PR & Marketing Assistant