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Kandersteg International Scout Centre

Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) is an international Scout centre in Kandersteg, Switzerland and is the only world centre of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). The Centre, which occupies 17 hectares of land, is open to Scouts all year round, as well as to non-Scouts for most of the year. More than 10,000 young people from over 40 different countries visit the Centre each year, ensuring a unique international atmosphere.

Kandersteg International Scout Centre
Owner The KISC Association
Location Kandersteg
Country Switzerland
Founded 1923
Founder Walter von Bonstetten

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Contents

History

Scouting was founded in 1907 and in the first 15 years it grew very rapidly. Quite soon there were Scouts in many different counties all over the world. At the first World Scout Jamboree in London in 1920, Lord Baden-Powell saw that it was a great success. He had seen the atmosphere and the impact created by bringing so many young people together and he wanted Scouts from around the world to be able to have a similar experience at any time. So he expressed his wish of a permanent international meeting place where Scouts from all over the world could come and meet together.

In 1921 the Chief Scout of Switzerland, Walter von Bonstetten, was visiting Kandersteg on holiday where he found an old empty chalet. It had been built in 1908, when the Lötschberg railway tunnel was under construction to house the workers. In 1913 when the tunnel had been finished it was left by the railway company.

Von Bonstetten felt that this location could be the meeting place that Baden-Powell had dreamed about. He wrote to him to let him know what he had found. The response was positive and in February 1923 the "Scouts International Home" Association was set up; on 12 April 1923 the chalet and some land was bought and the Centre came into existence. It cost SFr 15,100.-

Milestones

  • 1923 - the Centre is founded
  • 1927 - the first national room is created, the Dutch Room
  • 1929 - most of the campsite is bought
  • 1930 - BP visits to see what progress is being made
  • 1931 - the 1st World Scout Moot sees 2,500 Rover Scouts gather in Kandersteg
  • During the war, the Centre is used to house French soldiers interned for the war
  • 1949 - Walter von Bonstetten dies
  • 1953 - the 5th World Scout Moot sees over 4,000 Rovers in Kandersteg
  • 1950s - more property is bought including the woods by the river Kander and the Centre begins to open in the winter as well
  • 1973 - Kurt Metz is appointed as the first full time Director, thanks to the generous support of Kenneth Macintosh
  • 1977 - the Centre is renamed to its current name, Kandersteg International Scout Centre
  • 1979 - Camp Kristall takes place, one of those that replaces the cancelled World Scout Jamboree
  • 1980s - new campsites are created, together with extra toilet facilities and the Centre goes through a difficult time financially
  • 1992 - the 9th World Scout Moot brings nearly 2,000 people from over 50 countries; shortly after it ends, Aidan Jones is appointed Director
  • 1994 - the "International Scout Centre Foundation, Kandersteg" is established
  • 1995 - work begins on the Chalet extension project
  • 1996 - the Chalet extension opens on 1st June; later that year, John Moffat takes over as Camp Director
  • 1997 - February 12, 1st website goes public
  • 1998 - the Centre celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a series of events during the year
  • 2001 - April 27, new website goes online with new navigation, layout and content
  • 2002 - Miriam Hertzberg is appointed new Director; in December the top floor of the New Chalet is finished, completing the Chalet extension
  • 2005 - Work begins on the new bathroom renovations; later that year, Mark Knippenberg takes over as Director
  • 2006 - Corporate image revamped with the addition of a new website.

Location

Coordinates: 46.483334 7.666667 Go

The small, traditional Swiss village of Kandersteg is situated at 1,200 metres above sea level, 65 kilometres south of Bern. It is easily reached by road and rail and provides an excellent base for sightseeing or exploring the Alps.

Situated on the main railway line from Benelux/Scandinavia/Germany to Italy, Kandersteg is very well served by fast trains. During the high seasons, a regular bus runs from the local railway station to the Centre.

The Centre is at the southern end of village.

Facilities

 
Kandersteg International Scout Centre


Chalet

The central part of the Centre is the Chalet which consists of 2 parts, the old and new. It is in this building that the Centres reception and offices are based as well as various facilities for guests.

The completion of the extension in 1996 greatly increased the facilities available in the Chalet, with full central heating, modern sanitary facilities with constant hot water, a souvenir shop, meeting rooms, postal service, public telephones, coffee bar, laundry, first aid room and internet facilities. There are also five fully equipped electric kitchens available for use.

The Chalet is open all year round and is run along much the same lines as most Youth Hostels, with an emphasis on community life and living together with other groups, who all help to look after and clean the building. The Chalet is decorated with scarves and plaques from guests, as well as photos, posters and badges showing the world wide family of Scouting.

The Old Chalet provides accommodation for 172 people in 23 rooms, each with between 2 and 22 beds. Most rooms have tables and chairs, providing a living area. The rooms are named after National Scout Organizations or Scout Regions that have helped with renovating and decorating the room.

The New Chalet provides new Staff accommodation, meeting rooms and upgraded accommodation for 27 people in nine 3-bedded bedrooms available outside the summer season.

Campsite

The Campsite can accommodate up to 1,400 persons on more than 60 different sites. On average during the summer, the site has around 750 guests at a time. While close to other groups, each group can be sure of their own campsite ensuring both an international atmosphere and privacy.

All sites have running water nearby and there are toilets and showers with hot water close at hand, which all groups help to look after during their stay. There is a shop open on the campsite during the summer and a campsite office that is open most of the time.

The campsite was originally waste land from the construction of the Tunnel, so some of the sites are very rocky. The railway runs very close to some sites, so it can be a bit noisy at times.

Tower

The Tower was originally the power station when the railway was built and now has 2 parts - the tower itself and the LotschbergHaus (sleeping building).

In total there is accommodation for 57 people - 4 rooms with 12 beds in the LotschbergHaus and 1 newly renovated room with 9 beds in the Tower. Facilities include full toilet and shower facilities for boys and girls, a fully equipped electric kitchen and a big living room with an open fireplace and balcony.

Ueschinen Hut

It is situated in the Ueschinen Valley, at a height of 1,890 meters, and about 2-3 hours walk away from the Centre. It is usually open from May to October. During the summer it is used mainly as a base for climbing and hiking activities, but it may be used by groups during the year, provided that the weather allows it. The Hut is actually half of a cowshed so sometimes it's a bit noisy at night. It can sleep max. 30 people and has a fully equipped kitchen with wood stove, a general living and eating room and a very special toilet – there is no electricity and no shower.

Activities

The activity programme offered by the Centre is based on three themes of International Friendship, Alpine High Adventure and the Environment, designed to help guests learn, develop and have lots of fun.

Summer

They offer, within the three themes, a fixed weekly in-camp programme including International Campfire, Pioneering competition and Barbecue, as well as a wide range of daily activities such as trails, nature workshops, hiking, rock climbing, crafts, mountain biking, paragliding, river rafting and trips to various parts of Switzerland.

Winter

The programme offers a range of alpine snow activities such as downhill or cross country skiing and snowboarding. There are also a variety of other activities in and around Kandersteg, like sledging, curling, skating, snow shoeing and caving.

Year round

Throughout the year, they offer many programme activities for groups. The exact possibilities will depend on when you visit and options vary with each season.

By participating in the programme, guests can work towards the award that exists for each of the themes. These are designed to bring together guests of all ages, nationalities and culture, whilst encouraging them to experience, learn about and appreciate the alpine environment.

Staff

A full time Director, assisted by an international team of volunteer staff staying from three months to several years, is responsible for the Centre throughout the year. Volunteer staff are recruited in various numbers according to the time of year to assist with the running of the Centre's facilities and the programme offered.

These Staff members are known as pinkies due to their uniform of shocking pink t-shirts and sweatshirts. They also wear a Neckerchief to represent their scouting background.

There are three conditions that must be met in order to be accepted on Staff.

  1. Be over 18 years of age on the day you start work.
  2. Be able to communicate in English.
  3. Be a member of WOSM or WAGGGS

References

External links