"My journey to the WAGGGS World Centre Our Chalet in Switzerland actually began over 30 years ago when I headed off for my first day at Camp Shawano Day Camp in central Kentucky, managed by the Wilderness Road Girl Scout Council. After that, I was hooked on Girl Scouting.
I soaked up the outdoor skills, I enjoyed the hikes and was thrilled by the overnights that followed. I embraced the camaraderie and grew healthy in the nurturing and acceptance.
I would go on to spend many years camping and traveling with Girl Scout Troop 232 of Lexington, Kentucky. My fondest memories are of cooking pork chops on a cedar plank over an open fire, then singing campfire songs for hours at a time. At some point, to forever seal my commitment to Girl Scouting, we won a campfire baking competition at a national jamboree. I was ALL IN.
To supplement those skills I learned in those early years at Camp Shawano and camping with my troop, I started working at Wilderness Road Girl Scout Council's resident camp--Camp Judy Layne--in the summers. There I learned to teach others the skills I had learned--archery, rappelling, and canoeing. Soon I added first aid and lifeguarding, achievements that led to a series of camp management jobs in different councils over the next few years.
After college, I knew I wanted to give back to the organization that had so fundamentally shaped my life. I headed to Oregon and was soon working full-time as a Program Manager for the Columbia River Girl Scout Council. In Oregon, Girl Scouts once again provided me with opportunities for growth as I acquired training and experience in volunteer management, program and event management, staff supervision and a myriad of business and supervisory skills.
Fast forward to today: Girl Scouts and Girl Guides are again providing me with this wonderful opportunity to learn, to grow, and to serve. As the current World Center Manager of Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland, I come in contact daily with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides who have traveled great distances to visit the place where I now live and work. My new home, nestled in a valley high in the postcard setting of the Swiss Alps, is my dream come true. As I meet people from all over the world who have interests and goals similar to mine, I am proud to share some of my Girl Scout experiences from those early troop experiences and camp jobs...for I know that they have made me who I am.
How I could possibly imagine, on that first day of camp so many years ago, where my Girl Scouting journey would lead?
Although I am still new to my job, I am already finding some "favorite" things to be really excited about. These include the outstanding outdoor adventure opportunities like zip lining, white-water rafting and, of course, skiing. EVERY hike is incredible--to many people, where I live and work seems more like a national park than a neighborhood. But it is the "insider" activities available to Girl Scouts and Girl Guides who visit Our Chalet that I have found to be really cool: visits to the cheese maker’s hut or the after-supper serenades from Fritz the alphorn player (a delightful man who was the "errand boy" at Our Chalet many decades ago).
There are so many wonderful adventures and opportunities, but I have already discovered that my favorite part of my new job is meeting Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world. The Our
Chalet staff and our many visitors come to Switzerland from all corners of the world. I am learning new things every day from girls from many different cultures about the ways they participate in Guiding and Scouting in their home countries. I am awed by the awareness and commitment so many young women have made to their global communities. I have met girls who have already attended United Nations conferences on the environment and women’s issues, and these girls were able to participate in such life-changing activities because of the opportunities available to them through the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Does any of this sound interesting to you? No matter how old (or young) you are, you can start investigating the opportunities and establishing your goals now! The website www.wagggs.org is a great place to learn about how to visit or volunteer at a World Centre like Our Chalet, as well as to learn how to become an activist for a cause that is close to your heart. You can even take an on-line leadership course to help you learn how to, one day, do my job.
Happy travels wherever your path may lead you!" -Tanya