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.