Summer Camp USA and Scouts NZ – Alister’s Time in the USA


One of our proud partners helped us send a top New Zealand Scout to the USA for a few months on our Summer Camp USA program. Throughout Alister’s time there he accomplished some amazing feats, travelled to some amazing locations and developed some wonderful skills he can apply to all walks of life! We sat down for a chat with Alister and got to hear all about his exploits in the US – we suggest you have a minute! But a word of warning – if you are thinking about doing a working holiday – you will be converted by the time you finish this post!

Where did you spend most of your time on your Working Holiday?

I went on IEP’s Summer Camp USA program. I was based at YMCA Trout Lodge for most of my summer which was a resort and conference centre, which was also attached to YMCA Camp Lakewood, Lake Sunnen based about 12 miles outside Potosi, Missouri which was 1 hour and 20 minutes from St Louis.

Did you travel around while you were away?

Yes I travelled loads – at camp and post camp. During camp I spent my days off exploring the wonders Missouri had to offer with my local friends from camp. Nothing beats catching a St Louis Cardinals Baseball game with your mate in the evening. But to be honest, post camp is when the travel really started where I went to places like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Nashville, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin El Paso, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles and so many more.

Where was your favourite place that you visited?

Zion National Park, Utah is my favourite place I visited in all its natural beauty. I understand why it has been referred to heaven on earth. So many beautiful hikes and trails – if you ever get the chance go for a hike on the Angels Landing and Emerald Pool trails.

What kind of work did you do on your working holiday?

All sorts of things; rocket building, balloon animals, face painting, archery, riflery, skeet and trap shooting, caving, pontoon tours, banana boat driving and the list goes on. I was also an Assistant Program Director during the latter part of my season at Trout Lodge.

What was the best part about the work you did?

Putting a smile on the kids’ faces was the best part of the job because you knew no matter what else they had going on in their lives you have given them an experience they would treasure.

What do you miss most about living abroad?

The thing that I miss most is the people that I got to work with. Both the permanent staff and the other international staff always had a great time and got along really well even after living in each other’s pockets for the better part of 6 months, so it was really strange no longer seeing them every day.

What was the most challenging part moving to and living abroad?

Learning the American lingo and getting use to not being able to use Kiwi slang I was use to using because they just don’t understand what you want or sometimes they misinterpret it and can get you in more trouble than it’s worth! My advice is don’t use the phrase “sweet as” and I promise you easier it’s said than done!

What would be the first thing you would do if you went back on a working holiday?

I would go and visit all my friends I made during my time at Trout Lodge.

How do you think living abroad has changed you both personally and professionally?

Well at camp I learnt so many relevant life skills from leadership, tolerance, independence and so many more skills to name. All the skills I learned over at camp has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have got otherwise. If you ask is it worth it and I would say the best investment I made hands down!

What tips or tricks would you give yourself if you could travel back in time to just before you left?

Have fun and laugh out loud at least once a day, its far too easy to take your time at camp top seriously but have fun and laugh because you will have the best time and meet the best people.

How has your experience at Summer Camp helped your time at Scouts New Zealand since returning to NZ?

My time at summer camp gave me fantastic skills that really helped and translated well in to being a Rover and a Leader. It gave me new skills on how to deal with kids in a new environment and provided the leadership tools and confidence to try new things on return. I successfully applied to be a member of National Council and being a Former Zone Venturer Leader, the skills and knowledge gained from been an Assistant Programme Director at camp allowed me to be the Onsite Programme Director for 77th National Rover Moot 2019 “Once Upon A Moot”.


Alister went on our Summer Camp USA program because he is a part of Scouts NZ. As a part of our partnership with Scouts we offer all Scouts members the chance to go to Camp for free! We also offer deals on our other programs for Scouts members so be sure to get in touch or fill out our registration form!

One thing worth mentioning is that for the Summer Camp USA 2019 season we are running a season long competition to win back your program fees and go to camp for free! Just think about all the things you can do with that money! All you need to do is sign up for Summer Camp USA and have your visa approved before May 15th and you go in the draw to win back those fees! So get your applications in and get yourself to Camp!