By Christina Sweeney, Rotary Service & Engagement staff
Each year, International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians (ISFR) members travel to different ski resorts to meet up and ski together. ISFR partners with local clubs to organize activities for both skiers and non-skiers, including mountain tours, dinners hosted by Rotary members, and visits to local and historical sites. The fellowship has a long history: it first met in 1974 and has grown to around 250 members. We talked to ISFR President Allyson Walter, member of the Rotary Club of Ames (Iowa, United States), about what the fellowship means to her.
Why are you a member of the International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians?
Walter: I grew up skiing every year for spring break. Two members of my Rotary club knew that about me and recruited me to join the fellowship. My husband and I went on the annual ski week trip in 2010 and had such a wonderful time that we have been going every year since. We have made such good friends over the years, and we look forward to seeing them at the ski week each year. It’s like a family reunion!
We started taking our kids about seven years ago, and it has become our big family vacation every year. Our youngest son has been attending the annual ski week since he was 13. He has been introduced to so many international friends at a very young age. When young adults join the trip, they participate in all of the week’s activities. They come back from the experience with fantastic stories about their hosts and how much fun they had.
How has this Fellowship changed your Rotary experience?
Walter: My parents went on a Rotary Friendship Exchange to Northern England when I was a teenager. My sister and I were able to join them at the end of their trip. We got to know their host families and developed lifelong friendships. That is the value of Rotary and the opportunity of Rotary. Through ISFR, my family and I have had the chance to make so many international friends. I know there are many places around the world that I could travel to, and I know a Rotary member would be there for me and invite me into their home, make me feel welcome, and show me the highlights of their community. And I would feel guilty visiting their state or country if I didn’t reach out and let them know I was nearby!
Can you tell us more about your Annual Ski Week?
Walter: We gather at a ski resort for a week of skiing, fellowship, and fundraising. We meet for a fellowship breakfast each morning before heading out on the slopes. We hold our annual general membership meeting and a joint Rotary meeting with our local host clubs. We also have a fellowship foundation and fundraise annually to support the Adaptive Ski Program in the community.
The North American Ski Week is taking place in Banff, Alberta, Canada at the end of February. There is also a European Ski Week in Scuol, Switzerland in March. We have plans for an Australian Ski Week in Falls Creek, Australia this August. We also have a committee planning a Japan Ski Week in Niseko, Japan in February 2023. Stay tuned for registration details on ISFRski.org.
Read more about the International Skiing Fellowship of Rotarians and become a member on their website, www.isfrski.org. Stay up-to-date on their activities on Facebook fb.com/isfrski and Instagram @isfrski.