My experience [at KISC] gave me a deeper understanding of the world.
When one thinks about Switzerland, many thoughts pop up into one’s mind. One may think of Swiss cheese, Swiss chocolate, Swiss Army Knives, Swiss watches or the Swiss Alps. But one thing that is usually not thought of when someone thinks about Switzerland is the Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) located within the heart of Switzerland. I certainly did not know about that until somebody introduced it to me back in 2016.
Hello, my name is Nathan Yiu, a Short Term Staff for the summer 2017 Season and the current Deputy Lead Ambassador to Canada for KISC. KISC is an opportunity for one to enjoy international friendship, high adventure and the Scouting spirit. I certainly did when I was there for three months as a short term staff. I found out about this incredible experience through another Short Term Staff that was in my Council, Grace Lee. She introduced me to this adventure, and after she told me about it, I knew I had to see for myself why it was so amazing. I had been to two World Scout Jamborees before this, so I was surprised to know that KISC was called the ‘Permanent Mini Jamboree’. This made me even more interested to apply!
However, before going, I had many questions, such as “What if I don’t get in?” To that question I can answer now that if you do not try, you never know, so GO AND TRY! The question that I had after I got my acceptance letter was “What if I don’t fit in?” The answer to that question is simple: at KISC, there is no lack of fitting in—just be yourself and work with others as a team to keep the dream alive.
When you arrive at KISC, you no longer only represent your country—you represent a higher value.
There are so many things that I enjoyed while spending three months at KISC. First and foremost, the atmosphere, which is ALWAYS FANTASTIC AND ENTHUSIASTIC! It is such a welcoming place, and even though you are volunteering, there is an atmosphere that makes the work seem like play. This could be attributed to the amount of music that is being played. Whether it is cleaning toilets or preparing a new room, there is always music involved. The only place that does not have music are the activities; however, the scenery and the friends you have with you make up for the lack of music while running activities and hikes.
The next best thing would be the view. The Swiss Alps are gorgeous and have many hidden beauties, such as the view overlooking the valley on top of a peak or the thousands of stars you see from a mountain hut.
It is such a welcoming place, and even though you are volunteering, there is an atmosphere that makes the work seem like play.
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, and one thing that I appreciate now is that KISC truly is magical. Like I said before, I went to two World Scout jamborees, so I thought it would be the same experience, but in a different country. That assumption was incorrect; KISC offers so much more, and my time there demonstrated that no matter your background, there is more to learn. In hindsight, my experience gave me a deeper understanding of the world and the way an international staff environment should work, which was the opposite of my mindset at the beginning. When you arrive at KISC, you no longer only represent your country—you represent a higher value, and you are an ambassador to the guests to show what Baden-Powell had in mind when he envisioned a Permanent Mini Jamboree.
Make Your Own Stories – Applying to KISC
So that is my story and my thoughts—now it is time for YOU to go and make your own stories and create your own memories.
- The first place would be to take a look at KISC’s general requirements. This page allows you to see if you meet the requirement to be a Short Term Staff.
- Next, look at the Centre’s vacancies. Check the application deadline for the upcoming season. It is useful to plan out how long you will need to get all the paperwork and supporting documents in.
- Finally, look at the Centre’s application tips.
There is still one last place to turn if you need help or have questions: people who have been there. There are former KISC staff across Canada—like me! If you happen to meet one of us, make sure you take the opportunity to ask your questions. We are even building an Ambassador Network of former staff in Canada to help others discover KISC.
My final thoughts to all of you reading this article is this, be yourself and be not afraid to take a leap of faith when applying. If my words don’t convince you to apply to KISC, check out the photos posted with this article—maybe they will! If you need help, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to talk about KISC and help anybody with their application.
Remember, stay FANTASTIC and ALWAYS BE ENTHUSIASTIC!
Yours in Scouting,
Deputy Lead KISC Ambassador – Canada
Short Term Staff 2017 & International Rover Week Helper 2018