The Permanent Mini Jamboree
Photographs courtesy of Kandersteg International Scout Centre
For more than 75 years, Scouts and Scouters from around the world have enjoyed the year-round fellowship and challenging programs available at Kandersteg International Scout Centre in the Swiss Alps.
Following the first world jamboree in London in 1920, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting's founder, expressed hope for a permanent international meeting place, where Scouts from around the world could come together.
In 1921, the Chief Scout of Switzerland, Walter von Bonstetten, wrote to Baden-Powell suggesting that an abandoned chalet in Switzerland could be turned into such a facility. Two years later, the chalet and some land were bought by the Swiss Scouts International Home Association. The International Scout Centre at Kandersteg was born. For more than 75 years, Scouts and Scout families have enjoyed visiting Kandersteg and experiencing Baden-Powell's vision.
Located in the heart of the Swiss Alps, about 40 miles south of the Swiss capital of Bern, Kandersteg International Scout Centre is open to Scouts and non-Scouts from all over the world, as groups or individuals.
The camp's chalet provides accommodations for more than 200 people. In the summer, up to 1,200 Scouts camp on the grounds. More than 10,000 people from 35 countries visited the camp in 2000. Baden-Powell's dream of a permanent mini jamboree is truly realized at Kandersteg, the perfect place to learn how Scouting works in such countries as Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, or Romania.
Kandersteg programs use the themes of Alpine High Adventure, International Friendship, and Environment and offer numerous activities in these areas. The program department assists groups in planning a schedule that may include parts of all three themes.
To help individuals and groups with scheduling, the camp offers four awards: International Friendship, High Adventure, The Environment, and (during winter) Snow Adventure.
Each award requires completing a number of different activities, of which the camp offers some; others you complete on your own, sometimes as part of a group, sometimes alone.
Summer programs include hiking in the mountains and over glaciers, a visit to an alpine cheese maker's hut, a swim in an alpine lake, and rock climbing. (Some activities are done with the camp's guides and others on your own.) In the evenings, the staff organizes activities such as campfires, games, and an international barbecue.
Kandersteg also operates through the winter months. Skiing is available at the camp and surrounding areas. Visitors can also walk through the town of Kandersteg on winter hiking paths or rent snowshoes and explore the snowy countryside. Evenings might feature a trip to the local caves or the ice rink.
Year-round workshops feature crafts such as leatherwork, T-shirt printing, stone carving, or making friendship bracelets. Other workshops focus on nature, the environment, and energy.
Kandersteg has a full-time director, assisted by an international staff. Short-term volunteers work for three months while long-term staff members serve for up to several years. In the summer of 2001, staff included 45 members from 20 countries.
The work is challenging, varied, and dependent on the season. In summer, staff members may be leading a hike to the cheese hut; in spring, they might be at work preparing for summer. Applicants must be able to work with other staff from many nations.
For one staff member's experiences, see the September 1998 article "Kandersteg Summer" on the Scouting magazine Web site, www.scoutingmagazine.org/9809/a-kand.html.
March-April 2002 Table of Contents
Copyright © 2002 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.