Swiss Camping with the International Scouts

Swizterland is a bizarro Pleasantville world.  Cars stop when you’re within 20 feet of a crosswalk in anticipation of your approach; cashiers smile and energetically say, “welcome to Switzerland!” in any language you throw out; each farm is immaculately groomed and accompanied by an adorable house straight out of Heidi; and, $12.50 for a liter of ice cream?  No problem!  Money grows on trees in the Alps!

Nowhere did we see the naïve bliss of the Swiss  as we did when we went camping with the Scouts.  We didn’t actually mean to surround ourselves with pre-teen boys and girls (in Europe, genders are mixed in the Scouts).  We wanted to camp/hike and our hosts in Geneva suggested we try Kandersteg, a quintessentially quant Swiss town at the base of the Alps in the middle of the country.  All the hotels were full during this peak vacation season so we called a camping site called KISC and reserved ourselves a tent.  We had wanted to sleep outdoors at least once during our trip anyway!

Turns out “KISC” spelled out is the “Kandersteg International Scout Camp”.  Within moments of our arrival we were surrounded by boys and girls with mid-calf high socks and bandanas around their necks.  We were checked in by 20-something  retired Scouts in pink t-shirts and were told that if we needed anything at all we could “ask a Pinkie!”

Perrin checking in with "The Pinkies!"

In fact, we did need help setting up a tent.  It had been well over 15 years since our last Girl Scout outing and we were clueless about what to do with the stakes and mallet handed to us.  Our Pinkie helper Vincent led us to our campsite.  Along the way we passed full communities of happy campers laughing, playing volleyball and cooking on small fires next to their mini-house tents.  We were excited to meet our resourceful neighbors but then Vince pointed to a lone spot across a pathway: “Aaand you’re right there”.  We were isolated.  Surely out of fear that our NY blood would contaminate the utopian society of the Scouts.

Setting up shop with Pinkie Vincent

Our isolated sleeping area out at camp KISC.

We set up the tent and read in the “International Friendship Room” in the Lodge until bedtime.  We were buying time until we had to face the tent.  When we called ahead, KISC said they had sleeping bags but, when we arrived, they were out.  We said, “no big deal, it’s hot anyway.”  By the time nightfall came it was around 35 degrees and we regretted our nonchalance.  We piled on sweatshirts and bemoaned the fact that we completely failed at the Scouts main motive to always be prepared.  We huddled together and wished we had boyfriends to cuddle with and at 5am we woke and headed to the Lodge to wait for breakfast.

Nowhere is too far for the Swiss Scouts to hike! Better wake up at sunrise to make it to Brazil before dark though..

At 7am the bright eyed Scouts piled into the mess hall.  A leader greeted us next to the Cornflakes with a cheery, “How’d ya sleep ladies?  The air is perfect out here, ya?”.  We had to agree, the site was gorgeous but we needed some prep before we were ready for this Swiss life.


About sistersbailey

We are Perrin and Sarah Bailey, collectively known as “The Sisters Bailey”. The moniker was born out of a crazy weekend at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest and it was the first time we had ever been referred to as one unit. We grew up in Alexandria, VA together and then separated for college - Perrin to The University of Pennsylvania and Sarah to Northwestern University – and somehow landed together in New York after graduation. It was in the midst of the hustle of Manhattan that we became friends for the first time in years. Somehow we landed jobs in the same industry - Sarah worked in marketing at HBO and Perrin managed creative digital promotions for her media agency’s main client, Disney - just three blocks from one another. One day we decided to leave our jobs, sell our belongings and travel abroad with a backpack and a collective savings of $10K. The stories of our continuing adventures and those of other fearless travelers are here to inspire you.
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One Response to Swiss Camping with the International Scouts

  1. Pingback: Top 30 Travel Moments | Sisters Bailey Blog

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