Swiss adventure

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Troy Dontigney
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Protocol
Two young men are baptized in a fountain of near-freezing cold water, old friends wave goodbye and new friends trade hugs and contact information. The group of approximately 50 then prays together before climbing into buses, vans, trains and rental cars to begin the long journey back home.

This is the scene every Labor Day at the Kandersteg International Scout Camp as the annual Swiss Adventure spiritual retreat comes to a close.

Every year, the Navigators, an international and interdenominational Christian missionary organization, lead a four-day retreat in the Swiss Alps. Sponsored by multiple chapels throughout Europe and supported by a small team of volunteers, the hike offers young adults in various European military communities an opportunity to spend the holiday weekend away from their every day lives, challenge themselves both physically and spiritually, lean on one another and refresh their faith.

At first glance, you might be enticed by the opportunity of unguided hikes in the Alps, paragliding, ropes course challenges or a 4,000-foot group hike (up one of the) mountains, but this retreat has so much more to offer than just that. Home-cooked breakfasts and dinners create a sense of family that many of us have never known. Awe inspiring views from the Alpine snow caps remind you just how small you are and what a huge and beautiful world we live in. Early morning Bible studies, evening worship and heart-piercing messages challenge you to live a life worth living. Friends both new and old share their joys, their struggles, and their prayers without shame or judgment. Late nights around campfires with S'mores, guitars, songs and stories allow hikers to enjoy some of the simplest things in life.

This tradition has stood for more than 20 years now and is planned to continue for many years to come. Every year brings a new group of campers as people come and go due to permanent change of stations. Yet the tradition continues undaunted, memories are made and lives are changed.