Chief Commissioner’s blog| Exploring Kandersteg and more

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Continuing his international theme, Wayne visited Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland for the first time before dropping in on the National Scout Sailing Regatta in Norfolk.

Year-round mini-jamboree

A short flight from Berlin and a long train journey from Zurich found International Commissioner, Nigel Hailey, and I at Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC), nestled in the Kander Valley of Switzerland’s Alpine region. Founded by Baden-Powell in 1923 as a permanent ‘mini jamboree’, KISC is fabulously located for a wide range of adventurous activities as well as opportunities for environmental and cultural programmes.

With 12,000 visitor nights through 365 days, the centre is impressively run with just three permanent staff and an impressive volunteer programme; the volunteers are known affectionately as ‘Pinkies’!

Strong UK links

The UK has very strong links with KISC; not only with 40% of visitors coming from the UK each year and a strong presence within the ranks of the Pinkies (some of whom I was pleased to meet and have an opportunity to thank whilst visiting (pictured above)), but also with a UK-based Active Support Unit that provides help and advice to those visiting.

A buzzing centre

I was visiting primarily to join the Greater London Middlesex West expedition, which saw 550 members travelling to KISC for their 11-day adventure (an amazing County trip that takes place every 3-4 years and allows many Groups to enjoy an international trip). It was really great to find time to chat to many of the Scouts, Explorers and volunteers. I’m especially grateful to those of Hayes District who cooked dinner for me!

Reflecting the communities in which we live

What struck me after spending three days with GLMW was the diversity of the membership in just about all aspects. It was incredibly inspiring to be able to learn so much about them and especially about what their alpine adventures meant.

GLMW were not the only UK members on site; over one hundred others from several different groups were also there. Apologies are due to the girls of 13th Carlyle who were given just 10 minutes notice of our visit to see the ‘UK room’ (several rooms are sponsored by NSOs) – it looked very tidy when we arrived!

National Scout Sailing Regatta

Wroxham Broads in Norfolk may not sound as impressive as the Alps but it was an amazing venue for the National Scout Sailing Regatta where 150 Scouts and Explorers battled it out for the prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to the World Scout Sailing Regatta in California!  The winning pair from last year were certainly keen to retain the honour and return to the US having had a great experience at last year’s final.

30/08/13

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