Camp Blog

Swiss is the life

12th June 2017

There are views that take your breath away, and then there are the views that surround Suisse Camp here in Torgon.

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Just your average view in Torgon

 

When staff find time from our exciting and busy schedule looking after campers, there’s nothing we enjoy more than exploring our incredible home! Last night a group of our hard workers went for a tranquil evening stroll to soak in the surroundings. As you leave the camp, you encounter the sleepy outer fringe of the small town and come across beautiful holiday homes and chalets nestled in the mountain sides. If you stray from the beaten track, you’re then rewarded by an impressive suspension bridge that will take you to a beautiful lagoon and wooded walk that runs along the stream. It’s safe to say, we enjoyed ourselves and that Swiss life is the life!

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Our impressed staff soaking in the mountain view next to camp

Home away from Home

10th June 2017

Recently, we spoke to some of our dedicated and passionate staff in order to discover more about their experience at Camp Suisse. Our favourite ever Head of Housekeeping, Jodie, has generously described her thoughts and opinions on both working at the Camp, but also the importance of foreign travel and experience.

My mom always tells me that I’m running away from the ‘real world’ when I inform her that I’m going back to Switzerland for the summer… yet again. I always reply by saying to her that she’s right. More than anything I think she just misses me when I’m not there, and of course I miss her, but moving away from home and venturing out into the unknown is the best and scariest thing I’ve ever done.

It all started at 16 when I spent a month in Borneo, then at 18 when I interrailed across Europe, and finally when I applied for a job at International Camp Suisse. I was offered a job and I accepted. The idea of living 1100 metres up in the Swiss Alps was exciting and nerve-wracking. I couldn’t wait to be living in a different country, in a place I’d never been, and with people I didn’t know. But at the same time, all those things of course scared me. I would be living far away from home in a brand-new environment with people I’d never met, and what would I do if I didn’t get along with any of them? I didn’t even speak French.

So many questions and worries ran through my head, and I had no answers. I had a right to be anxious, as anyone does when trying something new. The nerves and hesitations stayed with me up until the moment I stepped onto the minibus that would take me to Camp Suisse, with a handful of the people I would be spending the next three months with. Almost instantly, all the things that were stressing me before, and all the worries I had, vanished. I was laughing and talking and joking with people I’d known for less than a day, and I couldn’t have been happier. I suddenly felt free and grown up and as if the world was mine for the taking. I learnt that those who do season work are very like-minded people. They are all adaptive, hard-working, funny individuals; who can always make the best of any situations they are presented with.

Now, I find myself on my third season with Camp Suisse, and loving it more than ever before. I’ve learned how to pack light, how to get on with the things that need to be done, how to catch up with my family and friends during those small times when I’m free and have WIFI, and how spend every moment enjoying the small as well as the big things that life away from home presents you with.

Over my time, I’ve met some of my best friends. Those who have been just like me, and completely different. I’ve learned how to take care of myself, from remembering to do my laundry to cleaning my room regularly. However, the one thing that I will say that I have learned the most from living away from home is valuing and using my independence. For example, understanding what is a good and what is a bad decision, and learning when to go to sleep at a reasonable time. It’s putting some money aside in order to save for the next adventure I want to go on. It’s remembering to brush my teeth because, in the end, the dentist is quite expensive. It’s saying ‘yes’ to things that I want to do, without fear of what others will think, or letting silly things hold me back. It’s also about deciding not to decide. When I tell you that my mom always says I’m running away from the ‘real world’, I mean it when I respond that I am. How I grew up, the ‘real world’ is getting into a full-time job as soon as possible, settling down and saving up for a house in a quiet neighbourhood. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of those things, and maybe one day I will want them to, but for now I want to explore and experience the world, and work tough jobs for short times and move on to the next part of my journey and not decide. I don’t need to know the destination of the journey, and I don’t think that matters just yet.

So, I say ‘yes’ to coming back to Camp Suisse because it is different every year, and it allows me to wake up each morning with a breath-taking view come rain or shine. I go to work with inspiring people, and I come back most of all in some strange way because it feels like home. And so even though my mom wishes I would come home and join the ‘real world’, I guess I already have. My ‘real world’ is the one where I’m burdened by the choices I make for myself, like waking up for the 5 am glacier shift, and catching a ride back up the mountain in time for work. I’m not burdened by the choices that others wish I would make, like finding a nine to five job and paying bills, or trying to settle down.

The most settled I am, and want to be for now, is when I return to Camp Suisse and see the old faces as well the new, never knowing what to expect, but knowing that I am in fact home. It’s just a home that breaks the conventions of the society I grew up in, and a home that allows me to be free in creating a life that I want for myself. Eleanor Roosevelt said that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, and boy, do I have dreams.

The origins of Outdoor Education

6th March 2017

German visionary Kurt Hahn was one of the early pioneers of outdoor education. He was an insightful educator, an influencer and leaves a legacy of expeditionary learning concepts that have been incredibly influential over the years.

Hahn’s values included “concern and compassion for others”, “the willingness to accept responsibility”, and “concern and tenacity in pursuit of the truth”.

From his work, and that of other educational leaders, ELOB (Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound) schools were born, along with ten key expeditionary learning principles which are invaluable today in describing what it means to foster a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning.

The primacy of self-discovery
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
― Lewis Carroll

Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and support. We discover our abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. The primary task of a youth development professional should be to help youngsters to overcome their fears and importantly to challenge their self belief (facilitate the discovery that they are capable of more than they thought). Eg with tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement.
The having of wonderful ideas
Building on children’s curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide matter to think about, adequate time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.
The responsibility for learning
Learning has to be both an individual process of discovery and a social activity. We learn both individually and as part of a group. Learners should be encouraged to be responsible for directing their own (personal and collective) learning.
Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Small groups may facilitate this, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students should mentor younger ones.
Success and failure
Everyone needs to enjoy some success if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important to learn from failure, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.
Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development should be integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students should be encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.
Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability and respect for others. It is beneficial for students to investigate their different histories, cultures and talents as well as those of other communities or cultures. Learning groups should be heterogeneous.
The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world teaches the essential ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students will learn to become ambassadors of the earth and of future generations.
Solitude and reflection
We need to explore our own thoughts in time alone. Individuals should make their own connections and create their own ideas. We also need time to exchange reflections with others.
Service and compassion
“We are crew, not passengers”. It is important to prepare youngsters with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others.

Kurt Hahn founded Outward Bound, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and the United World Colleges and played a key role in shaping the evolution of outdoor education for schools and youth groups for many decades to come. His ‘six declines of modern youth’ including “Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about], Decline of memory and imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life, the decline of skill and care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship and the decline of self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquillisers” still resonate with youth leaders today.

New year. New beginnings.

1st February 2017

Cool things to look out for in 2017 at Camp Suisse and beyond

  • A total solar eclipse for next summer

Next summer, a total solar eclipse will darken the earth on Monday, August 21, 2017. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the view of the Sun for those of us down below looking up!

Unfortunately, we won’t get to see the eclipse at Camp Suisse, as can only be seen in parts of the U.S.A. Fancy an excursion to Nashville anyone?

  • Camp Suisse and Googles race to the moon.

Google has $20 million prize on the line for three privately-funded teams who reach the moon by 2017. The requirements: A team’s rover must travel 500 meters on lunar grounds and send back high-definition footage.

Should Camp Suisse enter a fourth team? I think our rocket ship challenge could give them a run for their money and the $20 million would be a welcome surprise for our 2017 charity!

  • Airport transfer by ‘The DeLorean’?

Whilst Camp Suisse will be looking at purchasing a new minibus for this summer, the DeLorean Motor Company expects in 2017 to be rolling out a few models of the car made famous by Marty McFly and Doc in the Back to the Future movies.

Maybe we could order one to use for airport transfers! How cool would that be!

  • Don’t bemoan the drone!

Drones are already BIG however in 2017 they are going to become very BIG! Again, that amazing company Google are planning to launch food delivery services with drones! Pizza delivery in Torgon! No way! We love the pizza at our local restaurant Les Caprin!

In any case, Camp Suisse is one step ahead. Check out our drone footage of the hike to the Col du Croix last summer!

  • The biggest murder mystery files EVER go public – JFK

This event could challenge the most controversial of Camp Suisse Murder Mystery Evenings – the release of the files relating to the death of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Tiff and our other staff conspiracy theorists, look out!

  • Good bye El Niño and hello La Niña

2016 thank fully saw the end of the weather phenomenon El Niño, a naturally occurring warming of the Pacific ocean which bring droughts, very hot temperatures and subsequently food shortages to much of Africa, Latin America and south-east Asia.

In 2017, we will say hello to La Niña, a natural cooling of Pacific Ocean waters. This is likely to bring much needed rainfall and cooler temperatures to many areas across the globe. Phew!

When we think about summer at Camp Suisse we always hope for good weather but our challenges with weather really are insignificant to what some people around the world face!

  • The America’s Cup – could we be sailing at Camp Suisse in 2017?

One of the oldest international sporting trophies in history is up for grabs again with challengers looking to topple Oracle Team USA for the America’s Cup.

What better year for Camp Suisse to further develop its water sports programme on Lake Geneva and beyond. Watch this space for new water based activities as we approach summer!

No snow, no worries

2nd January 2017

No snow, no worries. We create our own fun at Camp Suisse. A very Happy New Year everyone. Roll on summer! #campsuisse #campsuisse17

 

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Tags: Staff

Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge.

1st December 2016

News flash…Camp Suisse has recently been accredited with the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge; a UK benchmark which confirms our status as a provider of safe and high quality educational experiences for our guests.

At Camp Suisse we have always strongly supported the important role learning outside the classroom plays in a child’s education. We understand the significant contribution to improving pupils’ personal, social & emotional development played by learning experiences outside of a classroom setting, as well as the positive contribution to the quality and depth of learning.

To achieve the LOtC Quality Badge Camp Suisse was assessed against a number of Quality Indicators set by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

We are continually developing and improving the outdoor educational experiences available to our guests and we look forward to implementing the LOtC Quality Badge across our range of products and programmes in 2017.

If you would like to know any more about the LOtC Quality Badge or our outdoor education, International Award, modern foreign language (MFL) or school ski programmes please contact us via info@campsuisse.com

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NappyValleyNet

8th November 2016

Read the latest review on Camp Suisse from NappyValleyNet in London. We really value all feedback from parents and campers – keep it coming!!!

Souvenir book 2016

1st November 2016

We are super-excited to announce that the summer 2016 souvenir book is now available to view and download. Check out what we did last summer in the Souvenir books section of our site! There is a limited edition print run for 2016 participants, email us at info@campsuisse.com.

Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

6th October 2016

A huge “Well done” to all this summer’s participants in our Duke of Edinburgh programme. We were delighted to sign off a number of Residential Projects and to run several Adventurous Journeys during summer 2016 in support of this great organisation that we are very proud to be a part of. #dofe #expedition #campsuisse #goldaward doea_int_proud-to-deliver_generic_rgb

2016 – the Return to Taney!!

24th March 2016

This summer will see the exciting and long-awaited return of Lac du Taney as part of our Seniors’ program.

It doesn’t get any more authentically Swiss or beautiful than Lac du Taney (or ‘Taney’ as it is affectionately known locally).

This mountain lake and miniature paradise is located at an altitude of 1,500m on the French Haute-Savoie Border. Taney was declared a national natural heritage site in the sixties, resulting in very minimal development since.

The visit will involve hiking, rock climbing, swimming, team games, BBQs and chilling with friends in one of Switzerland most beautiful and natural environments. (more…)