Dan’s Swiss Trip

The following is an article by Boteler student Dan King, who went to a Swiss camp with the 12th Warrington East & 16th Warrington West Scouts.

Dan is also an altar-server at St Barnabas’ Church, and this article will appear in the October 2016 Parish Newsletter. Bob Timmis, Editor of the Newsletter and Secretary of the Boteler Grammar School Old Boys’ Union says “when people say that “young ’uns” now don’t appreciate things like we did, Dan shows us otherwise. Well done, Dan!” Bob and his wife (who is the Vicar of St Barnabas) thought it was “a very mature and interesting piece of writing”.

“And there it was, over so quickly . . . ! ” by Dan King

I woke on Friday, 19 August, at 6:00am ; my clothes lay pristine on my desk, ready to slip on. I’d a bounce in my step as I was filled with excitement at what lay ahead of me. My bags were packed, so we got in the car and went to McDonald’s for breakfast. I arrived at the Scout Centre and went round the various stations . . . including things being handed in and bags being labelled. I just sat, while everyone ran around, as I’d got there early. I had to wait till the coach came at 10.00am (it was now only 9.00). Finally it arrived and the process of loading began, in the rain. There was lots of hustle and bustle on the bus as everyone settled in.  When we reached Dover, we just caught the ferry (it left right after we got on). We had tea and chilled. At Calais we boarded the coach and got some shut-eye, or tried to ! The air-conditioning wasn’t working, so it was very hot until we stopped at a service station somewhere in France and propped open the skylight. I got about four hours sleep until we reached the France-Swiss-German tri-border area  at Basel. Finally we were in Switzerland, though in a very industrialised part.  Another couple of hours’ travel and there it was. The Alps covering the horizon all around finely blanketed in snow. Here, we were still many miles away from them, about a ninety-minute journey. (This proved their sheer size and magnificence).

We had breakfast at a nice little service station; it was tranquil  but with excitement still full in the air. I hoped to get a picture of the Alps here, but I couldn’t as trees blocked the way. All back on the coach now for the last  leg of the journey. Soon the mountains (which seemed so far away just 45 minutes ago) started to rise up all around us. The air was crisp, and everywhere a lush shade of green I’d never seen anywhere else. Winding roads led us up the Kander Valley. Then I saw the Altels peak (3,629m), again, covered in snow. We neared our destination, all of us still taking in the awe-striking scenery. The Kander river, blue and creamy, filled with natural minerals and water from the glacier, wandered through the valley. Kandersteg lay before us : it seemed unreal. Unloading the coach, we chilled in fine weather, among the beauty which lay, or should I say towered, around us.

I wish I could go back to this tranquillity and peace, a soft breeze in my face and gentle sunlight adding to the experience. I didn’t think places like this existed on our planet, but they sure do ! After we’d relaxed from a long trip, we went on our first activity, the Schwimbad (swimming-pool). A short walk from the Scout Centre to Kandersteg Village was relaxing after so long on a coach. At the pool, we messed about, jumped from the diving boards and had fun.  The landscape around was so beautiful. We took it for granted, but I now realise it added so much to that moment. After an hour or two in the pool we strolled back to the chalet to prepare for tea, chilling inside one of the many common-rooms, meeting scouts from other lands. Now we went to bed excited for the day that lay ahead. A gentle walk to the cable car leading to the Rodelbahn (alpine toboggan). After much fun on this, we walked down to Oeschinensee Glacial Lake for a swim, in surprisingly warm water. Then we began a 9.2mile walk down to Kandersteg in glorious sunshine. After being briefed on what our activities would be next day, we went to bed. Up early, I had an espresso to wake me ! We were sorted into groups for our activities, then took a cable car to the Winteregg. We climbed all day : it was calm and relaxing.

I even saw a marmot, a sort of big ground-squirrel.

Then, back to the chalet for the International Night. There were many nationalities, religions and races, socialising and sharing food or drink from various parts of the world. The day after this, we went by train to Brig, then caught a bus to Brigerbad (thermal pools in Brig) for a fun day. First came the water slide; it was fast and winding and an adrenalin rush : there were many various pools and a diving rock. After a fun day, we went back to the Centre to relax. The next day, some did crate stacking, some did zip wiring, and I did Jacob’s ladder. I got 34 seconds on this, just 10 seconds off the international record. Back at the chalet, we got ready for the next day’s trip up to the Jungfraujoch, a col (the lowest point on a ridge or saddle between two peaks, typically providing a pass from one side of a mountain range to another), beween Mönch and the Jungfrau, two of the three giants, in Lauterbrunnen. At 3,471metres, it’s the highest accessible public point in Europe. Up early, we caught the coach to Lauterbrunnen and then a train through Wengan to the Jungfraujoch. The views were beautiful : I could see for miles, mountains and glaciers everywhere.

I told myself that one day, I’d need to climb these mountains. We explored the ice museum (with lots of sculptures carved from ice). Then, we went down on the train to halfway and hiked the last kilometre along the Eiger trail into Grindewald. Already, it seemed the trip had gone so fast, it was our last full day in Kandersteg. We went and wandered round the village, relaxing with ice-cream, taking-in the views while we could, then headed back to the chalet and changed quickly to go for tea in a restaurant. Back to the Scout Centre for the International Camp-Fire ; a fun-filled night of laugher, different nationalities united round a fire, through Scouting and ‘Living the Dream’ as Robert Baden-Powell said when he visited the scout centre in 1930. The last day came and (like how our first day started) we went swimming, having fun in our last hours at Kandersteg. We boarded the coach after our morning’s swim. This was it, we were leaving. We left in a deathly silence, everyone’s morale low. But, despite the sadness at leaving so beautiful a place, a part of Kandersteg will live forever in our hearts. And there it was over, . . . !

Thank you for all the sponsorship money that helped towards my trip.

By Dan King

Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School by STB