YFU Switzerland

How is it like to volunteer at the Ski Camp

[Generously sponsored by Movetia]
My name is Kamila, I’m the Outbound Coordinator from YFU Czech Republic and I have also been a volunteer for 4,5 years. Before my exchange, I was choosing between Germany and Switzerland – I decided for Germany, but Switzerland still stayed in my mind. Because of that, having the opportunity to go to Switzerland as a volunteer to the Ski Camp meant the world to me.
This year, it was the second time already for me. It was probably even more exciting than the first time, simply because I knew what I was getting into. I was looking forward to all the volunteers I knew, to the ones I didn´t, to all the exchange students, and especially to the memories and experiences I was going to get.
Don´t get me wrong – co-leading a camp of 60+ people isn´t easy. You are tired and exhausted most of the time, but it’s worth it!
It has to be said how generous it is from YFU Switzerland that we as volunteers can come two days prior the students and can practice teaching ski and snowboard and have some team-building together. Some people already know each other, some don´t and thanks to the 2 days, we can build a strong team. To me, this is really important, as being a volunteer isn´t just fun – it’s a responsibility. You have to be a friend, a role-model, an authority and an instructor all at the same time. It is not easy to find the balance between being nice and being an authority, but thankfully there are many experienced volunteers in YFU Switzerland who can show the new ones how it should be done.
And then the exchange students come! Everyone is looking forward to the next few days spent with each other. When you have so many students, it´s almost impossible to get to know everyone. Some of the names are especially hard to remember and as soon as they have their ski-clothing and helmets on, you have almost no chance recognizing them. We developed a good strategy to at least know their names: paper-tape combined with a marker and voila! Suddenly every one of the students and volunteers is recognizable. Needless to say that the students struggle with the same problem: 20+ volunteers and every day a new group leader. This often leads to funny situations in the morning where volunteers stay around and call names of their group-members and at the same time try to see if everyone has everything with them.
After the first two days I slowly started to recognizing faces and remembering names. The students on the other hand started to get tired and it was easier to make them go to bed. For me, the cure-few was always the hardest part of the volunteer work, because students simply don´t like going to bed early when they have the chance to talk to their friends. As a team member, you have different chores you divide with other volunteers everyday: curfew, wake up-call, lunch-watch, shopping for the volunteers, and so on. There is something for everybody.
And then there is the group-leading. I wouldn´t call it a war in the first place, but sometimes you have to be really quick to get the team you want – everyone should have a different group each day and you should go through different levels. Of course – there are some people who don´t like f. e. the “advanced” or the “bloody beginners”, but one should still try to do the whole range. The last day is the hardest – you have already had three groups and one is your favorite. It is hard to not try to take them again, but in the end, every group is amazing and this year, we all really had fun on the slopes.
My favorite part of every Ski Camp is the last evening and the awards. To explain it shortly: we as volunteers try to notice funny moments or thing students (an other volunteers) do and in the end, they get an award. It’s always a great surprise and so much fun. This year, something very special happened: I also got one – for being a part of the Swiss YFU! It was an unbelievable moment for me since I love Switzerland with all of my heart and being recognized as a volunteer for YFU Switzerland meant a lot to me. I am happy that thanks to the Ski camp, I did my mini-exchange and found many new friends. I was happy to be a part of it and I hope I can join again in the next years!
For all the volunteers out there, that didn´t go to the Ski Camp yet: do it!
Kind regards,
Kamila Müllerová
Outbound Cordinator – Volunteer
YFU Czech Republic