Wild Wolf ESU’s Trip to Kandersteg International Scout Centre
This summer 34 Explorer Scouts and seven leaders from Wild Wolf ESU headed to the hills – or rather, the Alps, at Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland. They joined over 900 other Scouts from around the world, who were also staying at the alpine campsite.
The ten-day camp was action-packed with some spectacular hikes, skill-building (tent pitching, cooking, hiking, rowing, navigating and washing up (yes, really)), and a great deal of – sometimes exhausting – fun.
The inaugural event was whooshing down the Rodelbahn – the summer sledge run. This downhill rollercoaster was, unsurprisingly, was a huge hit and set the tone for the rest of the stay.
The next day the Explorers chose their first hike. There were about ten different treks to choose from during the stay, and each Explorer did about four, depending on their level of experience.
One of the most memorable treks, was the “uber hike” up to Bunderspitz – all 2500m of the mountain. The Scouts passed pastures with grazing cows, woods, stunning lake views until, near the top, they reached then passed the glacier. The whole thing was “awesome” and memorable”, and “like losing my sight virginity”, according to Thomas Griffiths, aged 16.
Any hike that the Explorers took part in were roughly between 10km and 20km with around 6 hikers in each group. One group hiked up to the Kandersteg Frundenhutte, a mountain hut at 2562m and stayed over night. The jury is still out as to what was best: the hike, or the chance of sleeping in a real bed!
“It was a challenging hike, but worth it for the incredible views of the lake and surrounding scenery,” said one Explorer.
Even the occasional disappointment had a silver lining. When bad weather cancelled the trip on to the glacier, it was replaced by a kit talk and the opportunity to practise exciting crevasse rescue techniques and ice-climbing. All of which was followed by “industrial quantities” of soup, pasta and tea. And more pasta…
“All in all, sprits were high despite the miserable weather and we ended the evening with a lovely warm fire and hot chocolate,” said one Explorer.
Other activities included rock-climbing, abseiling, orienteering and boating. Swimming in fresh mountain lakes tempted some though it was mainly for the brave as the aquamarine water was freezing! Some decided standing under one of the many waterfalls was easier (and why not?)!
But it wasn’t all just great views and aching muscles. Down-time was spent relaxing on camp or heading into the village and using the – much warmer – local pool and spa. The group also became tourists for a day and visited the Swiss capital, Bern. Lovely – though expensive!
There was a chance to get to know other scouts during Swiss National Day which was celebrated with a huge parade through Kandersteg. The big event finished in the evening with songs round a vast campfire. “Although both the scenery and activities were truly tremendous I believe that this camp allowed different people from different units to bond together, providing new friendships and a healthy experience for us all,” said one Explorer.
This year was the Scout Movement’s 107th birthday and this was celebrated at Kandersteg with a 4.30am start (ouch!) to climb up to 1,600m to watch the sunrise over Oeschinensee. “Wow! A memorable experience that I will certainly treasure for many years to come”, as one Explorer succinctly put it.
Roll on next year.