BiPis Dream in Switzerland - Jubilee Year at KISC 1923 - 2023
After the first World Scout Jamboree in London in 1920, Lord Baden-Powell (BiPi) wanted a permanent mini-jamboree. It should be a place where you can meet scouts from all over the world outside the camps and also experience something, and which is also located in a unique landscape. But where is there a place where this can be achieved and which is also relatively easy to reach? The Swiss Federal Sergeant Walter von Bonstetten discovered it during his holidays in 1921: Kandersteg.
There he found a chalet that had been used for the construction of the Lötschberg tunnel and was now empty. It was easily accessible and in the middle of the Swiss mountains, so there were many things to do.
Walter von Bonstetten wrote BiPi about it and the two agreed to visit. They had met before, because von Bonstetten had been one of the first to bring the Scouts to Switzerland. He founded the Pfadicorps Patria, the oldest Bernese Scouts, in Bern in early 1913 and took over the leadership of the Swiss Scout Association in the same year.
But back to 1922, when BiPi came to Switzerland to look at the chalet in Kandersteg. He liked the place and so in 1923 the association "Internationales Pfadiheim" was founded. On 12 April 1923, the site was bought and the centre was founded. As early as August, the first scouts from England and Holland were welcomed.
In 1927, the first rooms were extended, on the one hand by the Dutch, on the other hand also by Swiss scout groups, such as the Rheinbund Basel. In the following years, the camp area expanded more and more, as it became possible to buy more land.
This is how the present-day Rover campsite came into being. In 1930/31, construction was particularly busy, as the first Rovermoot was to take place here from 29 July to 8 August 1931, when 2500 Scouts from 32 countries were expected - including Lord Baden-Powell himself. At the same time as the infrastructure was improved, the camp area continued to expand and trees were planted everywhere.
No special activities were held during the Second World War. The centre was also repeatedly the hostel of military units. During this time, the chalet had a very prominent resident: Herbert Beutler, a Swiss scout leader, lived at the KISC. He had run homes for children and young people in unoccupied France and had been expelled after the German occupation. Later he worked in the Swiss Red Cross children's aid organisation.
With the end of the war, a new heyday began for the home. There is still a lot of building work going on and the mountain tours are resumed. In 1953 the 5th Rovermoot also took place in Kandersteg. It sinks in the rain - but the infrastructure works.
In the 1950s, an attempt was made to keep the centre open all year round and to offer programmes in winter as well. This is still the case today. In the years that followed, the KISC was never quiet, it was constantly expanded, new buildings were erected and more rooms were given land as sponsors. In memory of Walter von Bonstetten, the Pfadicorps Patria Bern also builds a room.
1979 is a special year for the KISC. A small Jamboree replacement camp is held with 1700 participants from 42 nations. The actual jamboree had been cancelled at short notice because of the revolution in Iran.
And this is not the last international camp in KISC. In 1992, another World Moot was held in Kandersteg. And every year, the camp grounds are transformed into a mini-jamboree in the summer. Even at the age of almost 90, the centre in Kandersteg is not a bit old. Summer and winter alike, you can experience and try out great things at the KISC. In winter, the focus is on winter sports, after all the centre is located in the beautiful Bernese Oberland, but there is also the possibility to get to know a Finnish sauna or to play curling. In summer, the programme is based on different themes. Under the mottoes "International Friendship", "Alpine Adventure" and "Environmental Adventure", there are various activities to experience. And everywhere you can meet Scouts from all over the world. BiPi's dream came true and everyone can live it in Kandersteg.