Spring Holidays just ended. As we try to get back into the school routine and prepare ourselves for what i call the marathon term (11 weeks), i wanted to show off another wonderful aspect of living here, in Switzerland.
Spring and Autumn Holidays are 2 weeks long and Summer Holidays are 5 weeks long. OK so not as long as some other countries but still long. So what are parents to do with their children? Are there camps to go to, like in the US? Yes there are, but they can be expensive. So how? Well, Ferienpass is your answer! Ferienpass = Holiday Passport (literal translation). They provide a whole range of programs your kids can join in and have fun while learning interesting things such as Where does our water come from?, have a movie afternoon, get some baking done, go behind the scenes at the hospital etc…
Here in the area we live, the family association, called “Konfetti“, run all sorts of programs throughout the year and you can join as a member for a small annual fee. BUT they not only run programs for their members, they also do programs for non-members. The Spring Ferienpass is one of them. You don’t have to be a member to join in the activities organised for the kids. However, all the programs in the Ferienpass is age allocated, meaning if you are only 7 years old, there is a limited number of activities for you to join. But there still is a fair number to choose from.
Tobias decided on a couple and we registered for them but only managed to get a place at the Firehouse visit. (Next time we’ll have to register earlier). He loved it!
It was in the early evening and lasted 2.5 hours, 6pm to 8.30pm. They were divided into 3 groups and were led by Youth Firefighters while the Senior Firefighters (or Fulltime Firefighters) got ready the 3 different stations they were to visit. It is just our local village firehouse so it is not very big and didn’t have one of those poles to slide down – sigh! But they did a few nice setups for the kids to try.
Parents were not allowed to stay so this is the summary from Tobias. They got to put out little fires using water pistols. They got to see the fire-engine in action. They were also shown how to get power from a generator.
At the end of it all, they were all given a lovely little certificate which states (a rough translation):
On this occasion, with the permission of the Fire Department, we present Yoong Tobias with a Certificate in Fire-fighting. You have gained basic knowledge in fire-fighting vehicle operation, in handling electricity on the street, and with bucket/pistol fire-fighting. We thank you and would like you to know that you are welcomed to join the Youth Fire Brigade when you are 12 years old.
They also served the kids drinks and hot dogs after all that hard work putting out fires ;).
When we said goodbye to the firefighters, this is what Tobias answered when asked if he would be joining the Youth Fire Brigade.
“I’m only 7.”
Firefighter: “Well, doesn’t matter, you can start planning.”
Hehheheee… that’s the Swiss for you.
PS: The Summer Ferienpass is run by a much larger organisation and it is for the entire Kanton (state) and registering for that one is an insane affair of getting to the event hall as early as possible and pushing your way through the crowds to get to the right tables. We don’t do that one. Besides we are gone most of the summer anyhow. The Autumn Ferienpass does not run in our village but we can go down to the next town and join in theirs. We may try that this year. (Christmas and Winter/Sports Holidays are expected to be spent with family. So no need to talk about those here.)