Two weeks ago, 62 members of Wild Wolf ESU travelled to Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland for our annual Summer Camp. This epic trip was our biggest summer camp yet, and gave us the opportunity to experience amazing adventures, as well as building our skills of teamwork, leadership, and resilience in the face of new challenges. Keep reading to find out what we did, and to hear our Explorers’ top tips for a successful summer camp!
DAY 1: Friday
Friday kicked off our Alpine adventure. We congregated on Bounds Green Road with the all-important cake and passports while we awaited the arrival of our coach, before travelling to Dover to catch our ferry to Calais. Despite delays at the port we eventually arrived in mainland Europe and dozed off, looking forward to waking up in the gorgeous mountains of Switzerland.
TOP TIP 1: Bring LOTS of snacks and ration them wisely.Calum
DAY 2: Saturday
After an 18 hour coach journey, we finally arrived at Kandersteg, and one hearty brunch later, we headed off to the gondola. We rode up the mountain to the beautiful lake, Oeschinensee, where we had a cold but refreshing swim. A dinner of bangers and mash completed the day, getting Summer Camp 2019 into full swing.
DAY 3: SUNDAY
After spending the first proper night of camp in our tents, we emerged to grey skies and heavy rain. That day’s hard-working duty patrol cooked breakfast for the 62 people on camp, before we headed to the football field to meet all the other Scouts at Kandersteg. With still constant rain, we hung out at camp, “accessorised” the mess tent, and played some very muddy badminton.
TOP TIP 2: Make sure that everyone in your tent knows how to properly close the tent or you’ll drown when it rains…Arno
DAY 4: MONDAY
This particular sunny Monday took us back onto the coach and into the capital, Bern. Known for its bears, Bern offered us a chance to look at metropolitan Switzerland, which is much less busy than London. We said hello to its brown bears and paddled in the River Aare. After investigating Bern’s culture and peeking in the shops, we headed back to Kandersteg. The duty patrols had been hard at work, preparing a dinner of kebabs, which we gratefully tucked into after our day of exploring.
TOP TIP 3: Take a pillowcase on camp and fill it with clothes to make a pillow – an easy way to a good night’s sleep!Lawrence
DAYS 5 & 6: TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY
Bright and early on Tuesday, we had bags on backs and boots on feet. We were setting off ready to explore what the striking Swiss Alps had to offer, and for some, they were staying longer than others… 13 Explorers and two Leaders were headed to an Alpine hut for the night, in order to be immersed in the beautiful mountains for as long as possible. For everyone else, various hikes of different lengths and altitude were smashed over the two days of mountain adventure, finding outstanding views of lakes, passes, glaciers and summits. On returning to camp, we were all very pleased with what we had achieved.
TOP TIP 4: Be completely open minded and take absolutely every opportunity, even if you think you won’t enjoy it.Mia
DAY 7: THURSDAY
August 1st had finally rolled around, and we were all very excited! With it being both Swiss National Day and the anniversary of the start of Baden-Powell’s experimental camp on Brownsea Island, there was lots to celebrate in Kandersteg. We all enjoyed a warm day both on site and in the quaint village, partaking in high flying activities such as abseiling, and also resting after the previous tiring days. In the evening we joined all the other residents of KISC in an impressive parade through the village, ending with a thrilling fireworks display. We then trooped back to camp through the rain, indulging in cake and hot chocolate to warm us back up.
TOP TIP 5: Use dry bags to organise your kit. For example, you could separate all your clothes into different dry bags or carrier bags, with one for fleeces, one for casual clothes, and so on.Antoine & Oscar
DAY 8: FRIDAY
Friday was a day full of adventurous activities. Half the Unit headed off to a high ropes centre in Interlaken, while the other half went whitewater rafting down the Lütschine River. Despite some initial apprehension about taking on the glacial waters, the rafting proved to be an exhilarating experience made even better by the stunning Alpen scenery we were travelling through. Similarly, the high ropes courses saw us swinging through the trees and challenging ourselves to complete the hardest routes. We rounded off this jam-packed day with the KISC International Campfire, singing songs and watching sketches with hundreds of other Scouts from across the world.
TOP TIP 6: Keep your kit tidy in your tent! Organisation makes the mornings speedy and means you are less likely to misplace your kit.Florrie
TOP TIP 7: Take the time to meet Scouts from other groups when staying in a place like Kandersteg – it’s great to learn about Scouting in other countries!Carina
DAY 9: SATURDAY
Sadly, Saturday was our last full day at Kandersteg. We spent it hiking up the Gällihorn, a mountain which looms over the campsite at 2284m. Each patrol travelled up to Sünnbuel in the cable car, before tackling the steep ascent up to the summit. Having successfully reached the top, we took advantage of the unique location to invest some new members into the Unit, before walking all the way back down to KISC. The evening’s activities revolved around preparing for our departure the next day, by taking down everything apart from the bell tents. After our camp infrastructure had quickly disappeared and been packed into the trailer, we headed off to bed for our last night at Kandersteg.
TOP TIP 8: Remember to pack enough water for activities (especially if hiking) along with the correct clothing, so you remain comfortable and a good temperature to ensure that you have a great time.Freddie D
DAY 10: SUNDAY
Although the end of camp is always a sad affair, we had a choc-a-block day planned. We woke up and immediately squared away the last of camp, and started the walk to the gondola. We flew up the mountain, ready to ride the Rodelbahn. We all had a marvellous time whizzing down the hill on the mountain coaster, before wandering back to Oeschinensee, the first place we had visited in Switzerland 10 days earlier. Munching on our lunch, we shared our thoughts on camp in our Scouts’ Own, and reflected on the many highs and occasional lows. Once last dip in the brisk glacial lake refreshed us, ready for the long journey back to the UK – but not before WWESU’s traditional trip to Kandersteg’s excellent pizzeria. Uplifted by the delicious dinner, we piled into the coach, ready to be reunited with our families and rainy London.
DAY 11: MONDAY
Monday began at 6am as the coach drove into Calais and we had to quickly be awake enough to go through passport control. Once through, we boarded the ferry and headed straight for the cooked breakfast on offer. On arriving back in Britain we drove the rest of the way home, ultimately arriving at Scout Park after a total of 17 hours of travelling. Once all the kit had been unpacked, camp was dismissed and we headed home, exhausted but content after a jam-packed week full of exciting activities, challenges, and new experiences.
Check out our Summer Camp video below to experience our adventures for yourself!