Local scouts go on an educational adventure to the Swiss Alps

MILLER LAKE WEST: Thirty-three scouts and venturers from 1st Riverlake Scouts in Fall River travelled to Switzerland last month on a two-week adventure.

The scouts all camped out for 10 days at the International Scout Centre in Kandersteg (KISC) in the Swiss Alps along with another 80 Canadians and another 300 scouts from other countries. This centre was created by Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the World Scout movement in 1923 to have a permanent jamboree site for scouts around the world.

The trip was planned two years ago and was postponed twice because of Covid-19 so the group was excited to finally start their adventure. The group had selected their program activities months before and were not disappointed with their choices.

According to representatives that went, the scouts did a lot of hiking into alpine areas, sleeping over in a hut above the treeline, swimming in an alpine lake fed by a glacier, and riding down a mountain coaster. They tried unique experiences such as mountain tubing which involved tubing down a precipitous man-made slope at speeds up to 90 km/hr, and canyoning down a white-water river by rappelling, jumping, sliding, and swinging over rapids.

The scouts also had the opportunity to mountain bike and climb on a high ropes course and to learn climbing techniques on a rock face.

Camping with scouts from around the world allowed the group to learn about scouting and life in different places. There was a formal international campfire one night where scouts and venturers and centre volunteers known as pinkies performed songs and skits for the resident campers.

Scouts also spent some of their free time trading badges and neckerchiefs with scouts from other countries.

The group also got to visit cultural sites in various cities in Switzerland including Berne, Interlaken, Thun, and Zurich as well as in Frankfurt in Germany.

Some of the more memorable activities included visiting the old towns of these cities, swimming in the rivers in Berne and Zurich, visiting Thun castle, exploring the waterfalls of Trummelbach Falls, and visiting a cheese factory in Gruyere and the Callier chocolate factory in Broc.

Officials said that some of the scouts attended a Swiss Culture Night put on by the local community which included performances of alphorns, yodelling and traditional dances.

Many of the participants had never travelled outside Canada before. When asked what their favourite part of the trip was, many of the participants answered everything.

From their activities, scouts earned a number of badges for their campfire blankets including the High Adventure Award, the Swiss Explorer and the KISC Challenge Award.

More importantly, scouts went home with long lasting memories of the beautiful Swiss Alps and stronger friendships forged by this unique scouting experience.