Kandersteg International Scout Centre

Last updated

Kandersteg International Scout Centre
Kandersteg International Scout Centre.svg
OwnerThe KISC Association
Location Kandersteg
Country Flag of Switzerland.svg Switzerland
Coordinates 46°29′0.18″N7°39′50.1″E / 46.4833833°N 7.663917°E / 46.4833833; 7.663917
Camp size0.1 square kilometres (0.039 sq mi)
FoundedFebruary 12, 1923 (1923-02-12)
Attendance>14,000 annually
OpenedMay 21, 1923 (1923-05-21)
Affiliation World Organization of the Scout Movement
WikiProject Scouting fleur-de-lis dark.svg  Scouting portal

The Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) is an international Scout centre in Kandersteg, Switzerland. The centre provides lodges, chalets and campsites covering 17 hectares of land. It is open to Scouts year round, as well as to non-Scouts for most of the year. More than 11,000 young people from over 50 different countries visit the centre every year. [1]


KISC is the World Organization of the Scout Movement's (WOSM) World Scout Centre. [2]


Picture of the campsite in the 1920s Kisc old campsite.jpg
Picture of the campsite in the 1920s

In 1921 the Chief Scout of Switzerland, Walther von Bonstetten, visited Kandersteg on holiday and found an old empty chalet. It was built in 1908 to house the construction workers for the Lötschberg Tunnel. In 1913, when the tunnel was finished, the chalet was left unused by the railway company. Von Bonstetten felt that this location could be the permanent international meeting place that Robert Baden-Powell had in mind where Scouts from all over the world could meet. Von Bonstetten wrote to him to let him know what he had found. The response was positive and on 12 February 1923 the Scouts International Home Association was set up; on 12 April 1923 the chalet and adjacent land were bought for CHF 15,100, and the International Scout Centre came into existence. In 1930 Baden-Powell visited the site himself.

Flyer and map of Kandersteg distributed to the participants of the 4th International Scout Conference 1926. Fourth International Scout Conference, Kandersteg August 1926.jpg
Flyer and map of Kandersteg distributed to the participants of the 4th International Scout Conference 1926.

Up to current times, the site has continuously been augmented, with the first national room, 'the Dutch room' in 1927, and the purchase of additional land in 1929. During World War II, the centre was used to house French soldiers interned for the war. [3] In the 1950s more property was purchased, including the woods by the river Kander, and the centre began to open also in the wintertime. The centre was renamed Kandersteg International Scout Centre in 1977. In the 1980s, new campsites were created, together with extra toilet facilities, although the centre went through a difficult time financially. In 1994, the International Scout Centre Foundation, Kandersteg was established, and work started on the chalet extension project which opened on 1 June 1996. On December 2002, the top floor of the New Chalet was finished, completing the chalet extension, followed by new bathroom renovations two years later. In 2009, the centre opened a new accommodation building named Kander-Lodge, purchased the neighbouring building, Sunneblick, and fully renovated the ground floor of the Old Chalet.


Map to KISC Maptokisc.jpg
Map to KISC

The small, traditional Swiss village of Kandersteg (inhabitants approximately 1,200) is situated at 1,200 metres above sea level, 65 kilometres south of Bern, in the canton of Bern, near the Lötschenpass and the Gemmipass. The village is known for sightseeing and exploring the Swiss Alps. Kandersteg can be reached by road and rail: it is situated on the main railway line from the north to Italy, and the station is served by fast trains.

The Scout Centre is at the southern end of the village. During high season, a regular bus runs from the local railway station.



Kandersteg International Scout Centre Kandersteg International Scout Center wide.jpg
Kandersteg International Scout Centre

The central part of the centre is the chalet, which consists of two parts, the Old Chalet and the New Chalet. This building houses the centre reception and offices, as well as facilities for guests. The completion of the extension in 1996 greatly increased its size, and it has full central heating, modern sanitary facilities with constant hot water, a souvenir shop, meeting rooms, postal service, public telephones, a coffee bar, a laundry, a first aid room and internet facilities. There are five fully equipped electric kitchens available for use.

The Chalet is open all year round and is run along much the same lines as most Youth Hostels, with an emphasis on community life and cooperation. Guests help to look after and clean the building. The Chalet is decorated with scarves and plaques from guests, as well as photos, posters and badges showing the worldwide family of Scouting.

The Old Chalet provides accommodation for 172 people in 23 rooms, each with between 3 and 22 beds. Most rooms have tables and chairs, providing a living area. The rooms are named after National Scout Organizations or Scout Regions that have helped with renovating and decorating the room. The New Chalet provides new staff accommodation, meeting rooms and upgraded accommodation for 27 people in nine triple -bedded bedrooms available outside the summer season.


Campsite entrance Kandersteg03.jpg
Campsite entrance

The campsite can accommodate up to 1,400 persons on more than 60 different sites. On average during the summer, the site has around 750 guests at a time. While close to other groups, each group can be sure of their own campsite, ensuring both an international atmosphere and privacy. The sites have running water nearby and there are toilets and showers with hot water close at hand, which the visiting groups help to look after during their stay. There is a shop open on the campsite during the summer and a campsite office that is open most of the time. There is also a drying room and multiple picnic and barbecue facilities.

The campsite was originally wasteland from the construction of the tunnel, so several sites are rocky. The railway runs close to some of the sites, so it can be noisy at times.

Four buildings

View from the Ueschinen hut Kandersteg International Scout Centre-- view from the Ueschinen Hut.jpg
View from the Ueschinen hut

The Tower was originally the power station when the railway was built and now has two parts: the tower itself and the Lötschberghaus (sleeping building). In total there is accommodation for 57 people - four rooms with 12 beds in the Lötschberghaus and a newly renovated room with nine beds in the tower. Facilities include full toilet and shower facilities for boys and girls, a fully equipped electric kitchen and a big living room with an open fireplace and balcony.

On the other side of the river Kander is the Kander Lodge, facing the Chalet. It has eighteen simple 2-bed rooms with shared bathrooms. The building has a kitchen, dining room, living room and meeting room. The building was originally erected in the nearby village of Mitholz, and in recent decades used as office and exhibition space for the Lötschberg Base Tunnel. In 2008, after the tunnel was opened, the lodge was moved from Mitholz to its current site in Kandersteg.

Purchased in 2009, the Sunneblick is an old chalet with the same history as the Old Chalet and the Kander-Lodge. Originally it was an accommodation building for workers on the train tunnel in Frutigen. In the first quarter of the 20th century, it was moved from Frutigen to Kandersteg, to be the direct neighbour of the Old Chalet. The Sunneblick has 47 beds, a dining/play/meeting room, a fully equipped kitchen and a sitting room. It is available for use by a single group or can be rented as individual rooms.

The Ueschinen Hut is situated in the Ueschinen Valley, at a height of 1,890 metres, and about two to three hours' walk away from the centre. It is usually open from May to October. During the summer it is used mainly as a base for climbing and hiking activities, but it may be used by groups at any time if weather allows. The hut is actually half of a cowshed, so sometimes it is a bit noisy at night. It can sleep up to 30 people and has a fully equipped kitchen with wood stove, a general living and eating room and a special toilet – there is no electricity and no shower.

Camps and activities

The site has a history of camps, starting with the 50th Gilwell Scout course, organized in 1926, and the 1st World Scout Moot with 2,500 Rover Scouts from 23 countries in 1931. After the war, in 1953, the 5th World Scout Moot was back in Kandersteg with 4,000 Rovers from 22 countries, and in 1992 again the 9th World Scout Moot saw nearly 2,500 people from over 50 countries.

In 1979, the site hosted Camp Kristall, with 1,700 Scouts from 42 countries. The camp was one of those that replaced the cancelled 15th World Scout Jamboree that year. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America used Kandersteg for annual and even more frequent camps. In 2007, the centre played host to KanderJam, 'The Alpine Link to the 21st World Scout Jamboree', which brought over 2,000 people from all over the world in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Scouting. The year after that, in 2008, the centre ran the first ever World Scout Winter Games.

The activity programme offered by the Centre is based on three themes of International Friendship, High Adventure and Eco Adventure, designed to help guests learn, develop and have much fun. In the summer they offer, within the three themes, a fixed weekly in-camp programme including International Campfire, Pioneering Competition and BBQ, as well as a wide range of daily activities such as trails, nature workshops, hiking, rock climbing, crafts, mountain biking, paragliding, river rafting and trips to various parts of Switzerland. In the winter, the programme offers a range of alpine snow activities such as downhill or cross country skiing and snowboarding. There are also a variety of other activities in and around Kandersteg, like sledding, curling, ice skating, ice climbing and snow shoeing. [4]

Throughout the year, Kandersteg offers programme activities for groups. Options vary with season and exact time of the visit. By participating in the programme, guests can work towards the award that exists for each of the themes. These are designed to bring together guests of all ages, nationalities and cultures, while encouraging them to experience, learn about and appreciate the alpine environment.


Kandersteg Staff Kandersteg International Scout Centre staff.jpg
Kandersteg Staff

In 1973, Kurt Metz was appointed as the first full-time director, thanks to the support of Kenneth Macintosh and the US Foundation for International Scouting. Since then the staff team has grown and operates throughout the year with the directors being assisted by deputy directors and an international team of volunteer staff staying from three months to several years. Volunteer staff are recruited in various numbers according to the time of year to assist with the running of the centre's facilities and the programme offered. The following is a list of KISC Directors (their country) and the year they took up the role.

Staff uniform colour used to change each year but from 1989 red became pink and never changed again. From then on the staff members were known as pinkies. As well as their pink T-shirts and sweatshirt, they also wear a neckerchief to represent their Scouting background. Staff must meet three conditions: a minimum age of 18 on the day of starting work, ability to communicate in English, and membership in World Organization of the Scout Movement or World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Notable staff include Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards who worked as staff and trained in Kandersteg. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Hotel Establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis

A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a refrigerator and other kitchen facilities, upholstered chairs, a flat screen television, and en-suite bathrooms. Small, lower-priced hotels may offer only the most basic guest services and facilities. Larger, higher-priced hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference and event facilities, tennis or basketball courts, gymnasium, restaurants, day spa, and social function services. Hotel rooms are usually numbered to allow guests to identify their room. Some boutique, high-end hotels have custom decorated rooms. Some hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. In the United Kingdom, a hotel is required by law to serve food and drinks to all guests within certain stated hours. In Japan, capsule hotels provide a tiny room suitable only for sleeping and shared bathroom facilities.

Gilwell Park UK camp site and activity centre for Scouting and Guiding groups and other youth organizations

Gilwell Park is a camp site and activity centre for Scouting and Guiding groups, as well as schools and other youth organisations. The site also houses a training and conference centre, including the hosting of social events such as weddings and birthday parties. The 44 hectare (109 acre) site is in Sewardstonebury, Epping Forest, close to Chingford, London.

Kandersteg Place in Bern, Switzerland

Kandersteg is a municipality in the Frutigen-Niedersimmental administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. It is located along the valley of the River Kander, west of the Jungfrau massif. It is noted for its spectacular mountain scenery and sylvan alpine landscapes. Tourism is a very significant part of its economic life today. It offers outdoor activities year-round, with hiking trails and mountain climbing as well as downhill and cross-country skiing.


A gîte is a specific type of holiday accommodation. A gîte is a holiday home available for rent. Gîtes are usually fully furnished and equipped for self-catering. Many owners choose to handle their own rentals, and one can find these by searching online on the multitude of listing sites or by checking with the local tourist information office.

Swiss Guide and Scout Movement

The Swiss Guide and Scout Movement (SGSM) is the national Scouting and Guiding association of Switzerland formed in 1987. Scouting was founded in Switzerland in 1912 and was among the charter members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922 and among the founding members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1928. The SGSM has more than 42,000 members in about 550 local groups.

Walther von Bonstetten World Scout Committee member

Walther von Bonstetten was among the founders and most important members of the Swiss Boy Scout association Schweizer Pfadfinderbund, was elected President in 1918 and kept a leading role until 1942.

Youlbury Scout Activity Centre is one of a number of The Scout Association's National Scout Activity Centres in the United Kingdom and is the oldest permanent Scout campsite in the world.

The Wiltz International Scout Centre is situated in Wiltz, in northwestern Luxembourg. During the camping season, it hosts 80,000 Scouts a year from all over the world. The Scout Centre is not a single building but nine chalets and seven campsites surrounding the town.

Baden-Powell House Hostel and conference centre in South Kensington, London

Baden-Powell House, colloquially known as B-P House, is a Scouting hostel and conference centre in South Kensington, London that was built as a tribute to Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. The house, owned by The Scout Association, hosts a small exhibition relating to Scouting in its current form and a granite statue by Don Potter.

Our Chalet Scouting World Centre in Adelboden, Switzerland

Our Chalet is an international Girl Guide/Girl Scout centre and one of five World Centres of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). The others are Our Cabaña, Sangam, Kusafiri and Pax Lodge. Our Chalet is just outside Adelboden, in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. Located in the Bernese Alps, it is 1,350 metres (4,430 ft) above sea level.

Pax Lodge World Scout Centre in London, England

Pax Lodge is the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) World Centre in Hampstead, London, England. It was opened on 15 March 1991, preceded by Olave House (1959–1988), named after Olave Baden-Powell which was preceded by Our Ark (1939–1959).

Scouting and Guiding in Switzerland is made up of numerous scouting and guiding bodies which act to provide the opportunities to scout. This could be though Swiss national Scouting and Guiding organizations, through independent troops or through international troops established in Switzerland. While the latter two are similar, there is a fundamental difference because the three independent groups while taking guidance under different national regimes it is a program developed by people in the various cities, where the presence of international groups in Switzerland is a top down targeted programs that have been developed to offer expatriates scouting and guiding in the language they are used to and are developed in areas with a larger expatriate community. All of which are supported the existence of KISC and Our Chalet, both acting as semi-permeant jamborees.

Our Cabaña World Scout Centre in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Our Cabaña is an international Girl Guide centre of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) located in Cuernavaca, Mexico, It opened in July 1957 as a Baden-Powell centennial memorial. The centre can house over 100 guests.

Center Parcs UK and Ireland UK and Ireland holiday villages and short breaks

Center Parcs UK and Ireland is a short-break holiday company that operates six holiday villages in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with each covering about 400 acres (1.6 km2) of woodland. The company's first village opened at Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, in 1987 and its sixth, at Longford Forest, Ireland, opened in 2019.


Foxlease is a training and activity centre of Girlguiding near Lyndhurst, Hampshire, UK. The Foxlease estate has been owned and managed by the Guides since 1922. The estate is 65 acres (260,000 m2) and the main house is known as The Princess Mary House, in honour of her marriage. Foxlease hosted the Guides' Third International Conference, the Sixth World Conference and also the first World Camp.

Girlguiding Ulster

Girlguiding Ulster is one of the nine regions of Girlguiding UK. Its headquarters are at Lorne House, County Down. In 2006, there were approximately 500 units across Northern Ireland.

Scouting in North West England

Scouting in North West England is about Scouting in the official region of North West England. It is largely represented by the Scout Association of the United Kingdom and some Groups of traditional Scouting including the British Boy Scouts and British Girl Scouts Association, Baden-Powell Scouts' Association and the Federation of European Scouts.

Mark Knippenberg serves as Deputy Director of the World Scout Foundation since 2010.

Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre is one of a number of The Scout Association's Activity Centres in the United Kingdom. It is both owned and managed by Hampshire Scouting. Ferny Crofts is a 31 acre Scout Activity Centre in the heart of the New Forest National Park. With a stunning location, Ferny Crofts boasts a whole host of outdoor activities, camping for 500 people, and a variety of indoor accommodation.

Waldhaus Flims hotel

The Waldhaus Flims is a five star hotel in Flims, a resort village to the west of Chur, in the eastern Swiss canton of Graubünden (Grigioni/Grisons).


  1. "Annual Report 2014 & 2015". KISC.ch. Kandersteg International Scout Centre. Retrieved 15 June 2016..
  2. "About us". www.kisc.ch. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  3. A history of KISC 2009, p. 32.
  4. "Winter Activities - Kandersteg International Scout Centre". KISC.ch. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  5. A history of KISC 2009, p. 40.