Sunday 31st March – First Ski day, afternoon activities, The Cube and Sport Center
“It’s easy like a Sunday morning!”
We awoke today with a glorious sunshine for our first day of skiing and snowboarding.
After a fun-filled day on the mountain, we went back to the camp for a snack and hot chocolate before participating in our language classes, or,chosing from a number of fun afternoon activities. Some of us chose to play football, participated in the games competition or egg drop challenge, and some of us chose to go and shop in Verbier Village.
We all had a tasty dinner and then we played the fun game ‘The Cube’ or went to the sport center before going back to our respective camp for a much needed sleep.
Saturday 30th March: Departure, New Arrivals and Movie Night
Early this morning, we bid farewell to our current students and few hours later said hello to our new individuals students. Even if they had just arrived, they were already willing to ski and enjoyed a nice sunny day on the slopes.
We then welcomed all our other students in the afternoon and organized ski, snowboard and clothes fitting.
Everyone had delicious and well deserved dinner; while some coming from the other side of the world chose to go to bed, others prefered to have an easy night and watched a movie.
They all look quite excited about the day to come.
One of our school and most of our individual students have chosen to ski one more day and had lot of fun. Once they came back, some played table games or went to the village whilst others focused on packing.
One school went to the Chocolate and Cheese Factory of Broc whilst a second one chose to visit the Olympic Museum. They both enjoyed a picnic lunch before doing souvenir shopping either in Vevey or Lausanne.
All our students had dinner together at Les Elfes before heading for the most expected event of the week: the DISCO!
Today, all our students woke up excited about the event to come: the RACE!
It was their opportunity to show all the skills they have acquired during the week. The race went remarkably well and as a first reward, they had a barbecue on the moutain and skied the rest of the afternoon.
This afternoon, some of them played either football or table games, others did some shopping in the village, and the rest chose to bake some delicious cookies.
In the evening, all their efforts have been rewarded at Prize Giving.
Wednesday 27th March: Great day on the slopes, Torchlight walk, Quiz and Escape Room!
Our students enjoyed another lovely day skiing and snowboarding in Verbier.
They gave their best on the mountain but still have some energy for the afternoon activities. Some played football, others watched a movie and while the rest of them prefered to play jungle speed and other table games. Two of our kids decided to try paragliding, flying from the top of the mountain and enjoying the amazing views.
In the evening, our students could chose between a Torchlight walk in the village, a Quiz Night or the Escape Room!
We get asked the question all the time. How can we eco travel to Switzerland?
It’s no secret that traveling, while hugely important for our youth of today in terms of broadening their experiential awareness of other cultures, it is also immensely resource intensive. The amount of plastic consumed from a single travel is mind boggling. While doing research for this article, I had an airline professional write me that nearly all of the utensils and plastics that the airlines use for a flight are generally thrown out after the flight, regardless of whether they are used or not.
With recent requests from some of our readers, we decided to put together some of our favourite ideas about how to travel in the most eco friendly manner possible to Verbier, Switzerland or any where else.
Eco friendly travel tips.
If you have the time, taking a bus or train, or even sharing a ride is more eco friendly. The trains in Europe are wonderfully convenient, comfortable and a great way to see the different areas that you may travel through.
If you are concerned about your carbon footprint while flying from your destination, you can use carbon offsetting programs like this one. There are calculators that can determine your carbon footprint while flying, so that you can actually calculate the emissions used during your flight, and you can purchase credits to help offset that use. The proceeds from My Climate (Swiss based, yay!) go towards climate protection and carbon saving projects around the world. This helps offset the energy that you use to travel to Les Elfes camp, or in general so that you can travel knowing your did your part to help offset the energy consumed for your travel.
If you must fly, due to time constraints, try and book non stop flights as the landings and take-offs take the most fuel. If you can fly direct, the flying direct is the least damaging.
While flying, consider doing the following as the plastics involved while traveling are horrendous. Make sure you have an empty water bottle in your pack. Why? So you can make it through security at the gate, but you can fill up your water bottle inside the airport and not have to buy plastic water bottles. Or ask for your own water while you are flying, because then the stewardess will give you a single use plastic glass. If your flight is long, like you are coming from North/South America or Asia, you may go through many of these single use plastic cups. Keep in mind that each of these cups will take at least 100 years to decompose. At least. If you compound these on top of each other, that’s hundreds of years to decompose the plastics you consumed on a single flight.
In terms of plastic consumption, there used to be the three R’s, now there have actually been added three more.
These are actually all in order of importance as well, which is why refuse is listed as the most important. If you simply refuse the plastic item, it won’t be consumed by you. And one less piece of plastic consumed is actually a lot more than you think. Especially when you consider that each piece of plastic has a 70% chance of ending up in the ocean, even if you’re located in the middle of the European continent.
Reduce then goes without saying. If you must have a piece of plastic in your life, at least limit the amount of those items, and then reuse them as much as you can. That’s why later in this article we will be recommending some items that you can bring with you while you travel that will greatly cut down on your plastic use and consumption while you travel.
Recycling then goes without saying and I can tell you that Switzerland, where we live and operate our environmentally conscious International Spring/Summer/Winter camp for children and teens tries to recycle everything that we can. It helps that the municipality supports recycling and is making great efforts to improve this on a yearly basis.
The last two R’s are similar in concept, but basically Reuse or buy second hand when you can (it’s also a lot cheaper too), and repurpose items that you can’t recycle. If you can buy something on eBay then you should do it because you’re reusing or repurposing something that would be otherwise thrown out.
Bring wooden utensils while you travel. These are good ones from Amazon because they won’t set off metal detectors at the airport, and you won’t have to accept plastic utensils while traveling at the airport.
This kit has most of everything you need, and costs less than €20. You can consider bringing your own small cup as well. Just bring an eco travel friendly travel mug from home, that should be fine.
Something like this should work well.
Any destination you go to should also be considered. Ask the hotel, or resort you are traveling to if they have recycling programs, what eco friendly incentives they have going on, if they have any certifications verifying, or if they’re part of any organisations that support local initiatives or NGOs.
While at camp
The same is true about the food and the activities that thecamp (hotel or resort for that matter) does while you are staying. Is the food locally sourced? (At Les Elfes, nearly all food is local or Swiss). If not, do they make an active effort to source local ingredients? Are the activities that they recommend environmentally friendly? Do they disrupt the local flora and fauna (for example, going on an ATV tour through environmentally sensitive sand dunes would be a definite eco no-no).
Some things you can do while you leave your hotel, resort or camp room are; hang towels out to dry, turn off all the lights, close curtains especially in the summer to keep the room cool, and don’t use the hotel laundry services. The laundry services for hotels are notoriously wasteful. They don’t wash items together (so that your things won’t get mixed into other people’s items), and they wash towels every day, even if you’ve only used them to dry your hands once. You wouldn’t do this at home, so be sensible and request that the towels and room don’t be touched when you leave for the day. Usually, you can just take the do not disturb card from the hotel and just hang it on your door knob for the entire time that you stay at your hotel. This will save all of the work and cleansing resources used to needlessly clean your room on a daily basis.
When you must buy souvenirs to commemorate your trip, consider those that are handmade, and preferably that don’t have packaging. That goes for the food items as well. For example, buy fresh food like bread from the local bakery or meat from the butcher rather than processed items. That goes without saying, and you should do that at home as well. Buying new, means that the item is wrapped in plastic, and likely imported from away and has a much larger carbon footprint than a locally made and sourced item. Respect the culture that you’re visiting. While this may seem obvious, you should hire local guides when touring the mountains, because not only do they likely know the area better you are also supporting the community that you are visiting.
Learn the local language!
Learning the local language before you come, and while you are staying is a great sign of respect for that culture. Even if you can’t become fluent before you arrive, the local communities will appreciate the added effort of trying to learn the local language. Our camp for example offers intensive language learning as part of the Spring, Summer and Winter programs. A huge benefit of sending your child to a camp like Les Elfes, Verbier is that not only will we be adhering to an eco friendly experience, your child will also be learning about the local Swiss cultures and learning and improving upon your French. You should at least know some of the more basic words like – Please, may I have, Thank you, You’re welcome. The more you know before you come, the easier it will be to retain and actually use the language during your stay.
These are a few of our best recommendations, but if you have any other questions, ideas or suggestions, we would definitely love to hear them.
With the sun still glaring but the temperature dropping, it was a perfect day of skiing for our students. They all came back with smiles across their cheeks, proud of the improvements that they had made in the day and ready for the afternoon activities
Some of them attended their language class whilst others participated in activities such as games competition which they enjoyed with a warm fire nearby or capture the flag where they expended their last bits of energy.
In the evening, the music video activity got the students creative juices flowing. After a long and successful day they headed to bed to get a good night of rest.
After a well deserved night of sleep, the individuals were up bright and early, eager to begin their trips up the mountain. Some seasoned professionals and others complete beginners, everyone was looking forward to getting started.
The individuals arrived back to camp in the afternoon after a long day in the sun and had their energy boosted with a nice snack of indian cheese toasts accompanied with hot chocolate. Later on, individuals moved on to taking part on optional activities including baking and going to the village to do a bit of shopping.
To wrap up the first day, they headed to the sports center where they participated in games ranging from dodgeball to football which they all seemed to love as they were able to bond with the other schools. Every single one of the individuals had a big smile on their face when they came back to camp after an awesome evening doing even more sport.
Saturday 23rd March – Departures, Arrivals, Movie!!
An extremely busy morning was had as all the schools were leaving very early to catch their long-haul flights.
Later in the day, more schools arrived. They had some food, relaxed, were welcomed with a speech explaining how everything will run, and then went straight downstairs to get ski fitted. The schools and individuals arrived one by one and activities were provided for those who were already kitted out.
Dinner time came around and everyone sat around to enjoy their first meal altogether. Many were tired so they promptly went to bed while others went down to the cinema room to watch Harry Potter.
A few more individuals arrived later and ate some dinner before unpacking and going to asleep along with everyone else.
[clear] A common concern for parents is that you need to be able to contact us and your child during their stay. Les Elfes has quite a liberal approach to electronic devices, unlike similar american camps, we do not forbid electronic devices at the camp.
We do still limit the amount of time students can spend on those devices.[clear][clear]
Camp allows our yougsters to look up from the world on their screens and to experience the sublime in panoramic-real-life view.
We allow students to have their phones from 17h00 until 19h00 each afternoon to contact home.
For the remaining time all mobile devices are stored with Les Elfes staff in a secure locker at the campus.
Over the past few years we have trialed many electronic device policies and we have found 3 main benefits from our current policy:
Students mix more easily and make new friends if they don’t have an isolated alternative to social interaction. They learn to share in the experience of the camp with their fellow campers rather than hiding behind facebook and snapchat and communicating only with their friends at home. Camp is an opportunity to build lifelong relationships with students from around the world, don’t let an ipad interfere with that.
Campers without their phones adjust much faster than campers who have the option to speak to their parents every 5 minutes. The biggest problem we have with students who are feeling homesick is when parents continue to contact them outside of set hours. Students who are busy in activities and sharing new experiences under the supervision of our very experienced staff are happy and smiley but as soon as they hear the voices of their parents they start to remember home and start to miss them. It is normal and we often have a few tears at phone time but as soon as phone time is over and children return to being happy, smiley, well-adjusted kids who know that in one or two weeks they will go home full of stories to tell their parents. Please don’t be alarmed if your child cries when they speak to you. Camp is challenging and tiring and you are their security blanket at home that they can have a little cry to. It doesn’t mean that they are unhappy.
Campers experience more in the mountains than they can on youtube or facebook. The experience of being at camp is one that should be cherished and every moment needs to be experienced to the fullest. Every time a child glances at their phone they miss a special moment that they cannot get back. Not having a phone during activities means students experience every moment of the activity, they are involved and engaged and have the opportunity to learn.
Our reception is open from 08h00 until 20h00 and students can be reached via our receptionist at the campus. For serious emergencies we also have an emergency number which can be used 24/7 to speak to your son or daughter.
We also welcome you to email if you have any concerns about your child and we endeavour to respond to all emails within 24 hours.
Your child would like to take away photos from their time at camp? All of our instructors carry a smartphone and take photos throughout the activities.
Photos are uploaded to our online blog with stories from each group every day.
They are also available on Facebook for you to download and keep and at the end of the week we collate a slideshow of the best pictures and videos of the week which students can take home with them to remember their time at the camp.
We also have a Les Elfes App where you can receive live updates about activities on camp and photos as they are tagged throughout the day.
At camp our Elfes learn to cope with adversity, harness equanimity and gain confidence in expressing themselves. Social media will still be there when they go home, but so will the knowledge that their resilience and personal strength can enable them to achieve astounding things!
Thursday 21st March: Ski and Snowboard Race and…..DISCO!!!
Our students have been extremely lucky this week and woke up with the sun again.
It was a perfect weather for a barbecue. After having lot of fun on the slopes, they all stopped for a great barbecue lunch on the mountain at La Chaux where they could also relax listening to some music.
Then came the time of the race. Our students were truly into it, they gave their best and always kept their smiles on their faces.
Once on camp, our students could chose between making lovely chocolate mousse, going souvenir shopping in the Village and watching a movie.
This evening, after a tasty dinner of Swiss fondue, we danced the night away at the disco.
Wednesday 20th March: Amazing skiing, Excursion day and Escape Room
Yet, another sunny day here in Verbier and our students had two choices to enjoy it: they could either go to ski or go on excursion.
The skiing group had lot of fun on the slopes and ate a great lunch on the mountain. They then happily headed back to the camp in the middle of the afternoon where they enjoy a tasty snack of donuts, bread and jam, and hot chocolate. “Après-ski”, the students had a number of fun activities to choose from: baking muffins, games competition, and selfie challenge.
Our students that chose to go on an excursion went to the Chocolate Factory and the Cheese Factory in the town of Broc. In the afternoon, they had the opportunity to go shopping in Vevey. They brought lots of yummy treats and happy memories.
In the evening, they finally entered…the Escape Room! And managed to escape just in time!!!
What to Do with your Kids and Teens on Holiday in the Alps
Family holidays can sound like a great idea
at first but when it comes down to it, pleasing little ones and teenagers alike
can be a tall task!
When you think of holidays in the Alps,
skiing is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, you might be
surprised at how many alternative activities are on offer that provide fun for
the whole family.
From sledging to star gazing, there’s a
whole host of fun ways to spend a holiday
in the Alps with kids and teens. Here are some of our favourites.
Down One of the Longest Runs in Switzerland
Even if you’ve got a non-skier in the
family, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on fun on the slopes! The
Tzoumaz luge run stretches for 10km, descending 848 metres down the
mountain. Guaranteed thrills for daredevil adults and restless teenagers!
Sledging with a Huskie Pack
Slightly less hair-raising than whizzing
down the mountain on a toboggan, sledging is an equally fun (but less scary)
activity to be enjoyed by families with younger children.
Glide through the stunning alpine scenery
with some furry friends leading the way!
Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? A
traditional crepe is guaranteed to go down nicely after a long day of outdoor
Choose from a savoury ham and cheese crepe
or go for a Nutella and cream dessert. Verbier is home to some excellent
traditional creperies. (Le Moutin Noir
is one of our favourites).
out at the Spa
Soothe sore legs in a bubbly hot tub or
splash around in the pool. There are heaps of pools and spas to choose from in
and around Verbier
ski resort with whirlpools, saunas and water slides to explore.
Snowshoeing is a great alternative to
skiing that doesn’t require previous experience. Trek through the mountains in
special footwear that allows you to take on the snow with ease. Spot wildlife and
enjoy the relative safety and calm that this sport brings.
Walking Tour of Verbier
There are a myriad of walking trails around
Verbier for all ages and abilities to enjoy. Breath-taking mountain views,
waterfalls and fresh mountain air. A great active alternative to skiing.
on a Helicopter Ride
For a fantastic birds eye view of the valley,
a helicopter ride is one of the best ways to take in the alpine scenery in all
Trips from 20-60 minutes can be arranged depending
on what you’d like to see on your journey.
an Escape Room
Escape rooms have become super popular
recently, with different scenarios to work through as a team. Verbier is now
home to its own escape room emporium.
Get a piece of the action, solve some puzzles and (hopefully) escape!
This one is a great activity that anyone
can get involved in. Specially designed karts are ready and waiting for some
fun on the ice. Race each other to the finish line to find the champion!
Adjustable seats, safety bars and speed
control makes ice karting a great family-friendly option.
Traveling as a family can be a handful at times. To make your journey to the Alps as easy as possible, a transfer from the airport could be the answer.
There are a number of van services that leave directly from the Geneva airport. One is called Alp2Alp and the other is the Alpy Bus service. The service during the winter months is quite regular and cost effective.
Friday 15th March – Depatures, skiing and snowboarding, packing and prize giving
Today was a rather wet and rainy day in Verbier, but we all went happily to ski and snowboard, nonetheless! For some, it was their last day here with us at Les Elfes, and after one last tasty lunch on the mountain, they departed for home in the afternoon. For the rest of us, we returned from our last fun day on the mountains and after a much deserved hot chocolate break at camp, we packed our bags ready for the morning. After dinner, we had prize giving.