It was tough, but my first week as an outdoor education camp counsellor went well. We had about 62 students from Zurich International School (ZIS), and I had 12 members in my counsellor group (ages from 9 to 10 years old). It was a dynamic group to say the least. Some other counsellors reported that their groups were always attentive, and very well behaved.
My camp name is Weka, and by the end of the week, Team Weka was defnintely my favourite group. The kids were outgoing and keen to give all the challenges a go. There were some strong personalities in the group, but with these tamed and directed, the group tackled the team work exercises with gusto.
The photo above, kindly taken by one of the ZIS teachers, shows a particular episode where Team Weka harvested about 40 small tadpoles from a pond. Even the girls were keen to get in there and grab a few tadpoles for the bag.
At first, the general consensus was that everyone would take a few tadpoles home each. However, after discussing the impact of humans on the natural world, we all took a vote on what would be the most caring thing to do. It was an almost unanimous vote to let the tadpoles go.
My specific role this week was to be the overall ‘overseeer’ of my group. Specific skills such as living with nature, map skills, rock climbing etc were instructed by a specialist. I may have a chance to operate in a specialist role next week.
Apart from work, I had the opportunity to do a couple of day rides around the area. There are some great mountian bike tracks on which my recumbent performs remarkably well.
A fasctinating feature of the Valais region in Switzerland is the abundance of irrigation channels dug into the mountain side. These are called ‘bisse’ and in the immediate vicinity of Anzere, there are three important bisse. The Bisse de Sion, Bisse de Ayant, and Bisse de Clavant.
These irrigation channels take water from high up in the mountains down to the many vineyards in the region. All along the bisse are walking and mountain biking tracks. On Saturday I went out for a ride with Dee, an Irish lass who was only here for the first two weeks of camp before returning to Ireland.
To the right of the track in the photo above, there is a channel of water. This is one of the bisse that runs from below Anzere all the way down to Sion. An altitude drop of about 700m.
A novelty was seeing a steep vineyard cart in action.
Not for the squeamish for hights.
Today I went on another ride, this time up the valley to Lake Tzeuzier, with Simon and Eric, two others involved in Village Camps. We followed the Bisse de Sion up the valley, and the Bisse de Ayant back down to Anzere.
The track is quite rocky in places, and exposed tree roots posed a problem at times. All in all however, 8 months on the recumbent meant that I handled the terrain with much more ease compared to my companions on their mountain bikes. The recumbent still ceases to amaze me.
Here we have Simon navigating the new tunnel to take the Bisse de Ayant past a cliff face. Below is how they used to do it. This wooden bisse counstruction was made at the turn of the 20th century, using fairly basic tools. Apparently prisoners were the construction workers of the time.
So that’s the first week of serious work here at Village Camps. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem all that bad…