Over the years, I have had been fortunate enough to work at several Scout events including the Rover Centenary and The Founderee as a rapporteur. I was also lucky enough to be IST at the 24th World Scout Jamboree, as part of the Heads of Contingent team. But it's at Kandersteg where I found the true meaning of Scouting.
Following the World Scout Jamboree, I decided to give it a try and apply to become short-term staff with the support of my NSO, the Kenya Scouts Association. Alas! Guess who got shortlisted for Spring 2020? Yours truly.
Finding my feet
When I arrived, KISC was just as I had dreamt, despite the pandemic situation. It felt like another home as soon as I got off the train and was collected by a fellow Pinkie. The Pinkies became my family, and all the different backgrounds and cultures represented merged into the one KISC culture.
Interesting fact: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre was actually closed for the first time since World War II! But despite the lack of guests, there was never a dull moment. I got to work in all the departments. One moment I was in Catering learning a new recipe and the next I was in House keeping up with the standards of cleanliness, or preparing the Reception to welcome future guests. The Grounds and Maintenance teams also had me fixing stuff and using handy tools like the power drill! I also got to learn a great deal about accounts, finances and bookkeeping from the Administration and Finance Assistant which goes along with my career and background in economics. Weekly staff activities also meant we got to unwind from our busy schedules, providing an avenue to bring out creativity, team spirit and learn about our differences and social and cultural backgrounds.
One of my highlights was when I got to be part of the team delivering letters and chocolate on behalf of the Gemeinde to the villagers of Kandersteg, during the Easter holidays. Another is the high adventure activities I got to try out there, especially the crate stacking and the high ropes course. Sometimes I surprise myself with the challenges I can complete (Not that I don’t believe in myself but still I get amazed). I also loved all the tantalizing food that’s on offer as well! Always in abundance and enticing me for a second helping. My favourite meal was the sweet potato and cheese galette!
KISC is a great place for personal development. Learning to be in charge of House and Catering helped me understand aspects of running the centre with the rest of the team. My time management skills also improved a notch higher. Working on your own personal goals and development is also highly regarded, and help and support from other staff is always on hand. It’s incredible how much goes into keeping standards at the World Scout Centre so high! All the details and cumulative effort from each person add up to make a huge difference.
Occasionally, we joke about International Friendship being the winner of teamwork games. But International Friendship can never compete to win at KISC, it’s always the undisputed all-time champion. I have made friends with people of different nationalities, learnt some cool facts about their countries and a few words here and there from different languages.
But above all, I feel I have been part of an amazing family! Helping me to understand Scouting in not just Kenya and Africa, but also the rest of the world. KISC is a perfect blend of a professional work environment and fun. It was a privilege to keep the Permanent Mini Jamboree alive whilst also enjoying every moment. I would definitely urge anyone to volunteer here, without hesitation.
Spring has paved the way for Summer and as I write this, waiting for the borders to reopen, I am now volunteering as a Helper at the centre (which means I also get to wear green). It’s been an exhilarating few weeks, getting to watch the new short term staff prepare for take-off and go through everything I experienced at the start of my season. I still can’t get over how every three months a new group of people get to pick up where another let off. Little do they know they’re about to experience the best time of their lives, unique and special to each and every one of them...