This autumn, KISC invited a team from Iceland to form the first Icelandic Work Party. Having been a member of the first work party team for my country, I can tell you a secret: there is pressure and responsibility to make a good impression, which makes a good motivation to throw ourselves into the work as hard as we can!
WHAT ARE WORK PARTIES?
Work parties are a hidden treat for Scouts that Kandersteg can give in the quieter weeks between seasons, dedicated to getting the campsite and buildings ready for the next season. Different Scout Organisations can send a Work Party, with 15-20 people joining the KISC staff and experiencing the lifestyle at KISC, as they become “wingmen” to the pinkies.
The concept has a great balance of working hard and playing hard as the participants stay at KISC and work for the first half of the week while having free time to do activities in and around the Scout Centre for the second half of the week.
The tasks that need to be done can vary and are pretty versatile so everyone can find the task that suits them best. Work need to be done indoors, in the outdoors campsite and could vary from general cleaning, tidying up and maintenance.
This is a chance to find out how such a big centre runs behind the scenes as well as learn a lot about how an old toothbrush can be used for deep cleaning or getting to know things like handling high-pressure washers.
You quickly make many friends with the pinkies as you share tables at meals, work together and play together after work – you can genuinely feel the scout brotherhood and sisterhood.
In Kandersteg, one great experience can be visiting Oeschinensee, going for a challenge on the Via Ferrata or taking a sauna session when the participants have finished their work for the day.
THE PERKS OF THE WORK PARTY
KISC covers your accommodation and all meals the whole week – the food is incredible, so foodies are especially welcome (especially if you like cheese!).
If you are not a person who particularly enjoys household tasks, a KISC-style work party will probably change your mind, as the great company and fun activities during breaks make time fly.
“But how did the Icelandic work party go exactly?” you might ask. Well, great question, friend! Luckily, we got to ask plenty of questions from the members of the Icelandic team. We were happy to hear that they went home enriched with a great experience as well. Let’s see some of their thoughts of the week…
EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY AND TAKEAWAYS
We can confidently say that at Kandersteg the reality exceeds the expectations of first-time visitors.
After working so hard for KISC, members could still go on and on about the things they are thankful for, such as making new and nursing old friendships, finding peace whilst listening to cowbells and stacking wood. They also said that this week in Kandersteg brought back the scouting spirit in their lives.
The favourite tasks of the team were mostly grounds work outside: fence kicking and wood stacking were the most popular. These fellows seem to love nature and building strength!
The participants said they honed their skills in time management, distribution of work, balancing out having fun and being efficient and knowing when to pause a project. They said they are taking their excitement, energy and motivation home.
VIEWS ON THE VIEW
The members of the work party were charmed by the scenery, particularly admiring the views from their rooms and some joking that scenery this beautiful must be some form of virtual reality! One member said that simply stepping out of the main entrance felt as if you were walking into a painting, while another stated that this was the most beautiful place they have ever been! Considering this had been said by someone from Iceland, it was quite the compliment!
DAYS OFF AND PARTY
They spent their off-days hiking to Oeschinensee and the Adelboden adventure park, visiting Bern and relaxing in the centre.
There is tradition of a work party party, hosted by the work party themselves, to celebrate their visit and share their international experiences and culture. Everyone had a fun time full of dancing, laughs, a mini campfire with sketches and karaoke, and overall silliness.
The team also brought some Icelandic snacks and candies which were pretty popular among the pinkies.
Being in Switzerland, the cheese situation is taken quite seriously, so the members got a question dedicated to cheese, specifically on what they thought of the amount of cheese.
Some were perfectly delighted with the level of cheese, others wouldn’t mind a little more of a variety in cheese. Lactose intolerant members admitted that cheese was the only occasion they took the risk, and it was totally worth it. If only there had been vegan cheese as well…
The team was asked whether they recommend the work party for their NSO’s/NSA’s and if they would like to return to KISC as a pinkie. Some members definitely see themselves returning to Kandersteg as a pinkie in the foreseeable future and they absolutely recommend the work party for everyone – but stressing that being punctual is an important requirement here. The work party is thought to be a perfect in-between if someone went to a Jamboree as a teenager, is too old to go now but wants a similar experience.
“Here you can feel the year-round jamboree experience.”
The Work party is an Experience (with capital E) you can’t compare to any other job you’d do any other place, and, as an Icelandic ally wrote “feels like you made an impact both on the scout centre and yourself”.