Maybe it was a bit of luck with the weather, but our first ever Winter Camp for kids ages 10-15 last year (2017/2018) became a Swiss fairy tale that no one wanted to end. So how did we do it? First, we got the perfect location in the Swiss Alps at a Swiss boarding school called the Lyceum Alpinum. Then we combined every day with thrilling Swiss winter sports activities in deep snow and fun-focused language learning, complemented by special moments like having Swiss cheese fondue in a teepee. But the one non-Swiss component that made the camp truly magical – was our culturally diverse group of open and friendly kids from all over the world. We can’t wait to do it again this winter break!
Pure Action – Youth Camp in the Winter Break
For the winter break, many are looking for a camp for their child that will give them the opportunity to spend many days pursuing winter sports activities: skiing, snowboarding, curling or sledding – to name just a few. Together with other young winter campers, they take to the slopes, improve their cross-country skiing skills or learn skiing for the first time as a beginner. For many, this is their idea of a perfect holiday. On the other hand, some are specifically looking for a language learning course during the break to learn a new foreign language or to reinforce what they have learned in school.
When looking for the right winter youth retreat, many camps have a very monotonous programme, focused either on just languages or on winter sports. However, the Lyceum Alpinum offers both equally, sports and language, a concept which was praised by all who participated last year.
Skiing, Slopes, Fun and More: Activity Programmes for Winter Fans
Every morning from 8:30 – 11:00 were the first language lessons. The language (German or English) and the level of instruction could be selected in advance. The language courses themselves were conducted by experienced teachers and native speakers.
At the center of the learning experience is getting comfortable with speaking and conversation. Due to the global nature of the programme with kids from all over the world, conversation in the foreign language occurs quite naturally. In most language schools the students can fall back on their native language when ever they are having trouble. Not here! When you have to speak in the language, you acquire new vocabulary quickly. Days spent in the multi-cultural atmosphere also lead to genuine conversations about life back home. The topic of Christmas was especially interesting to the young students last year, which lead to a lot of discussions.
The First Impression of the Somewhat Different Language Holiday
Last year was the debut of our youth winter camps. Some of the children had never seen snow before, but then astonishingly ended up skiing almost all the slopes – even the most challenging ones.
Another popular topic of conversation was how differently others celebrated Christmas in the winter (or summer) break in their own cultures. “I really felt how my horizons were broadening through all the different perspectives and I am more open to foreign cultures now. Not every youth camp offers that. I had a lot of fun here with my friends, and I’m going to ask my parents to sign me up again next year.”
Language Holiday, Youth Holiday, Winter Holiday, Skiing: Why Not Just Put It All Together?
On the last day after the morning classes, we went out into the snow.
Day-To-Day Activities Overview:
On Monday, cross-country skiing was on the programme; Tuesday, was snow biking; Wednesday, skiing or snowboarding at the ski school Suvretta; Thursday, hiking with snowshoes; and on Friday, everyone went curling and ice skating in Madulain.
Every day between 11:30 and 12:00 we enjoyed a healthy and delicious lunch, which was served to-go or in the Lyceum Alpinum’s own large dining hall, with its breathtaking view of the snow-covered Swiss Alps. The ski area also borders directly on our boarding school.
Afternoon Activities for Teenagers
Snow games, tobogganing, skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and curling are just a few of the afternoon activities. The award-worthy Winter Fun Programmes featured a popular hike by torchlight in the snow-covered Swiss mountains above the boarding school and avalanche training, in which kids received an insight into the science of avalanche rescue with beacons and search methods that help to locate people under the snow.
Being on the move in the fresh air during the day awakens a strong appetite, and so there was always a nutritious and tasty dinner at 6 pm. We place a high priority on offering regional and organically produced foods. But before their full bellies started making them sleepy, there were 2 hours of evening entertainment capped off with a late-night snack.
What Makes Our Camp so Unforgettable for Young People? Here Are Our Top 5 Reasons:
Top 1: Fairy Tale Winter Weather
There must have been something magical going on because the weather and snow last winter break (2018/2019) couldn’t have been better. We hadn’t had that much snow in 10 years, and the sunshine came out to play almost every day, too. The conditions were ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities and especially outdoor sports. We don’t want to promise too much, but according to initial forecasts, the coming winter is likely to be equally fantastic.
Top 2: Tobogganing into Happiness
The absolute trend sport is still snowboarding. So, who would have guessed that tobogganing would provide the biggest fun factor? Each child maneuvered a total of 6 km from Preda to Bergün. When the group arrived at the finish line, it was unanimously decided to start the tour all over again…On your marks. Get set. GO!
Top 3: Night Hike by Torchlight in the Snow
The torchlight hike in the snow-covered mountains above the school remains an unforgettable event. The warm light of the torches glittering on the fresh new snow created a magical atmosphere. The snow was really deep and was waiting for the first footprints making it a lot of fun for everyone to trudge ahead with big steps. For those kids, who had never seen snow before in their lives, the glow in their eyes told of the enchantment in their hearts.
Top 4: Fondue with — That’s Right — Swiss Cheese
Fondue is not only a typical dish here in Switzerland, but it is also a social get-together. And that fits perfectly with our philosophy of cultivating a global community. The girls and boys at our camp came from all over the world and within a very short time developed lasting friendships. These shared experiences, such as fondue in a teepee, are moments that connect – across all borders.
Top 5: Getting Lost in a Curling World
Curling in the small village of Madulain was one of the special programme activities. Most children had little to no experience in this sport, and so the start of the competition was a bit bumpy. However, the teams soon got really excited about the game and the players became noticeably better. Competition became fierce and cheering for victory developed, and the groups played and played until sunset when the curling match finally finished. Their aching muscles the next day made the city tour of St. Moritz painful, but they were tough and still enjoyed it.
Fresh Snow 2018 / 2019
Our winter camp for kids was a complete success: We made friends, learned a language, enjoyed great food, and did a lot of winter sports. Any who look back on that time, are sure to have plenty of fond memories. Because the dates have been set for the next one: This year we are doing it again! We have already thought of some exciting programmes.
Youth winter vacation at Lyceum Alpinum is the perfect mixture of language courses and winter activities in a dreamlike, snow-covered, picture-book landscape. Everyone between the ages of 10 and 15 can take part in the camps, for one or even two weeks, with or without accommodation.