The Story of KISC
Living Baden-Powell's Dream since 1923
1906 - 1922
The construction of the Lötschberg Tunnel not only brings the most important connection to Kandersteg but also to the Scout Movement.
After the 1st World Scout Jamboree the Scouts lookout for a place where they could live Jamboree feeling 365 days per year and find it in Kandersteg.
Construction begins on the Lötschberg tunnel in Kandersteg. The 14 kilometres long tunnel will extend direct rail service between the Bernese Oberland, Wallis and Italy. More than 3’000 workers live in Kandersteg at the northern entrance to the tunnel.
1st scout camp
Lord Robert Baden-Powell organises a first experimental scout camp at Brownsea Island, England, bringing together 20 boys from different parts of society. A year later, the bestseller “Scouting for Boys” is published, and the World Scouting starts to grow at a tremendous pace.
A chalet is built
To enable the children of the tunnel workers to gain an education, the alcohol-free society “La Temperanza” provide school classes, as well as simple accommodation for the families. A chalet is built near the banks of the river Kander.
Opening of the tunnel
The workers depart, and the buildings are left abandoned. What is known nowadays as the Old Chalet, is one of the few buildings that remained after this period.
1st World Scout Jamboree
1st World Jamboree, Olympia, England with 8’000 scouts from 27 countries and with 33 National Scout Organizations represented. Lord Baden-Powell announces his dream of one place in the world, where this “Jamboree” feeling - feeling of world brotherhood, peace and international friendship - could happen all year long.
The Chalet is discovered
During a visit to Kandersteg, already a well known holiday destination, the Chief Scout of Switzerland, Walther von Bonstetten, discovers a derelict Chalet. He proposes the creation of an International Home for Scouts in Kandersteg. Lord Baden-Powell follows von Bonsetten’s invitation and is enthused about the place!
1923 - 1948
Scouts from all around travel to Kandersteg to visit the Permanent Mini Jamboree and the Chalet soon becomes the home of the 1st Rover Moot creating peace and friendships.
During the II World War, the Centre serves as a refuge until it can accommodate Scouts from all around the world again.
The Chalet is open for Scouts!
The Home Association purchases a chalet and land along the banks of the river Kander. The Centre was inaugurated on the 21st of May 1923. In a letter to all Scout Associations, the International Bureau wrote: ,,We have great pleasure in announcing to the Scouts of all countries that the scheme proposed by the Chief Scout has now been realised.”
Tradition of decorating rooms
Dutch Scouts decorate a room in the Chalet, thus fashioning the first of the Scout Organisations rooms. In the following months, a Hungarian room is created as well as two rooms decorated by the Swiss Scout groups.
World Scout Committee meets at the Centre
The International World Scout Committee meets in Kandersteg in July. Baden-Powell attends the meeting, visits the Chalet and inspects the new campground. While inspecting the camping area, B.P. uses a hill on the campsite to have a good view of both the campsite and the Centre. This hill becomes to be known as ‘B.P.’s Hill’, and it is called like that also nowadays.
1st World Rover Moot
Lord Baden-Powell invites all Rover Scouts to join him in Kandersteg for the first Rover Moot, meeting of all young leaders in scouting. 2’500 Rovers from 23 countries answer the call from the Chief.
International life comes to a halt due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Only a few guests from outside Switzerland visit the Centre because of the severe travel restrictions. The Chalet, Tower and Campsite are used as accommodation for troop guarding the valley and for the storage of medical and military supplies. Some 200 French soldiers are interned at the Chalet. During the days the soldiers move earth to cover stones and form new campsites on the campground.
Getting busy again
By summer 1947, 1’358 Scouts visited the Centre, including guests from Argentina, New Zealand, Cuba, Finland, Lebanon and Mexico. Established again as a World Centre, Kandersteg hosted the 1st International Commissioners’ gathering in July 1948 a huge step to rebuilding the World Brotherhood.
1949 - 1992
The world meets at KISC during several big events such as Rover Moots or the Kristall ‘79.
This increase in guests numbers also means development in Staff. Not only was the Staff Structure developed but the iconic colour pink was introduced.
5th World Rover Moot
4’168 Rovers from 22 countries attend the 5th World Rover Moot. The motto of the event is “Ad Fontes” (To the sources), and its camp symbol is the white snowflake created from 6 fleurs-de-lis, nowadays still used as KISC symbol.
First Camp Director
Kurt Metz, Bern, is chosen as the first full-time professional Camp Director of Scout Centre Kandersteg. The appointment of a Camp Director is possible now by a substantial donation of Colonel Kenneth Macintosh (via the United States Foundation for International Scouting - USFIS).
Camp Kristall ‘79
More than 1’700 Scouts, Scouters and Staff from 42 countries attend Kristall ‘79 – a special international camp to replace the cancelled World Jamboree in Iran, organised by the European Scout Region.
KISC Staff was used to wear a different colour of staff uniform every year. In 1989, for the first time, pink uniforms are used and never changed the colour again. Since then, the KISC Staff is known as the Pinkies!
First time going digital
The Centre receives a donation in the form of two WANG computers and starts working for the first time with computers!
Hosting the 9th World Scout Moot
The 9th World Moot takes place in Kandersteg with nearly 2’000 participants from 52 countries.
1993 - 2014
The increase in guest numbers ask for KISC to grow
Extensions and acquisition of buildings make it possible to offer up to 355 beds. It was not only time for growth but also a time of celebrations of 100 years of the Scout Movement.
The Old Chalet extension is officially opened on June 1st. It is one of the biggest expansions since the start of the Centre in 1923. Nowadays, this expansion is known as the New Chalet.
The flag tradition begins!
The Centre begins hanging the flags of every visiting country during the year. This tradition is supported by our guests who often donate their national flag to the Centre. Do you want the flag of your country to welcome you when you come to KISC? Bring one with you, and we will hang it on the Chalet.
The KanderJam, “The Alpine link to the World Scout Jamboree”, takes place parallel to the Wolrd Scout Jamboree and welcomes 1’800 guests and 150 Staff from 40 different countries. To celebrate the 100th birthday of Scouting, all scouts gather at majestic Oeschinensee to see the sunrise that kicks off the next 100 years of Scouting!
Kanderlodge & Sunneblick
Work is completed on the Kander-Lodge, and it is opened in Spring offering a wealth of new facilities, guest bedrooms and Staff accommodation. The same year, KISC acquires the Sunneblick, the neighbouring chalet on the banks of the Kander. 91 new beds are ready for guests to arrive!
The Jubilee Year
The 90th birthday of KISC is celebrated during the whole of 2013! Among the highlights are the International Rover Weeks in winter and in summer, the Egg Tapping Challenge in cooperation with the local community, the campfire lunch and formal evening meal, which marks the actual birthday of the Centre on the 21st of April, and of course August 1st, the Swiss National Day.
B.P. Fellowship event
In October 2014 the 68th BP Fellowship event takes place in Switzerland. The World Baden-Powell Fellowship recognizes individuals for their contributions to the World Scout Foundation to help support Scouting. The BP fellows, including His Majesty, The King of Sweden, who is the Honorary Chairman of the World Scout Foundation travels with the Queen to Kandersteg to enjoy the atmosphere of the World Scout Centre.
2016 - 2020
It is all about making our guests feel welcome and like at home!
KISC is trying to constantly improve and use guests' feedback for further development.
After much planning and fundraising, the largest project of 2016 can be realised. The project called “Welcome2KISC” includes moving the road further away from the main Chalet in order to create a large pedestrian and meeting space in front of the main building. This area adds a well-defined event space and the extension of the green playground along the Kander river.
2nd World Scout Education Congress
In May 2017, KISC host the 2nd World Scout Education Congress - four days of seminars and dialogues to help prepare National Scout Organisations for a changing world. With over 150 participants from all over 100 different countries at one time, this events marks as the most international event KISC has ever hosted.
KISC is celebrating 95 years of existence, and as a present, the Centre got a new graphics look and a new website!
2019 - 2022
The centre fights to innovate through the Covid-19 pandemic and preparations are well underway for the centenary!
Jack Higgins (UK) begins as the 11th Director.
The covid-19 pandemic forces KISC to close for 3 months. It's the first time the centre has closed since the II world war. When the centre is able to reopen, everyone must wear masks, keep distance and many other special requirements are required. A special concept (that will ultimately be updated 26 times) is required to define how to safely operate. KISC uses 200L of disinfectant and hand gel! Despite Government initiatives and support from our insurance, the year is closed with a big financial loss as 75% of guests move their bookings into 2021 or cancel.
The covid-19 pandemic continues. In January, the KISC Committee take the decision to reduce services and minimize operations for the year. The team reduces down to just 5 people, and the Chalet is completely locked and closed. An office is set up in the Kanderldoge instead. Through Spring, the accommodation is advertised on websites such as booking.com, and families and local workers make use of the Kanderlodge. The remaining pinkies volunteer to support during vaccinations of the local village residents. During summer, the campsite is turned into a campervan site, and over 1000 vans stay. Additionally, the Berlin Opera Academy rent all of the buildings for 2 months, whilst they perform 4 different operas. They bring 15 pianos and a 30-piece orchestra with them. Other staff accommodation is rented out long term for the full year. During Autumn, the planning for the "re-start of KISC" begins, which is only held off by 90% of the staff getting Covid 2 days before opening! Fortunately, guests are welcomed back for New Year's eve with an ex-staff reunion taking place. The Winter 2022 volunteer staff team is in place, and 200 guests enjoy celebrating KISC entering it's 99th year!
Guest numbers return to normal, and a very new staff team do their best to get the centre back up and running! Many digital improvements have taken place during the pandemic, offering our guests a smoother, better service. Preparations are fully underway for the Centenary as both a 2023 Project Director, and 2023 Project Assistant begin full time at KISC, planning events, fundraising and PR efforts. The number of members of KISC breaks 600 for the first time, and the first-ever hybrid General Assembly is held, engaging over 130 members both online and in person. During spring, war breaks out in Ukraine, and KISC opens its doors, hosting 20 individuals, 20 orphans and 10 leaders at the centre. Donations flood in from around the village as the pinkies (including 2 from Ukraine) do their best to make these guests feel at home.