An Adventure To Remember

The U.S. Camp Counselor Program is one of New Zealand’s most popular exchange programs, allowing post-secondary students, youth workers and teachers an opportunity to share Kiwi culture and learn about American history and culture at the same time. Annually more than 900 Kiwis travel to the U.S. to live and work as summer camp counselors throughout the United States. For more information, check out our Exchange Visitor Program page.

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An Adventure To Remember – by Dylan Lynch 

(A version of this story was originally published on the ‘A Kiwi and His Cabin’ blog by a CCUSA NZ participant)

That’s a wrap!

Hiking Half Dome was a seemingly fitting way to end my time at camp. If 2016 Dylan could see me now. What I have achieved in four summers at camp, would not have been possible without a number of people. 

Obviously, Skylake Yosemite Camp for one, but how did I come to know about them or even summer camp in the USA in general? A family friend spent two years at a summer camp in the USA. Her stories had me hooked. They seemed too good to be true. What she said to me has stuck with me.

“I know this sounds too good to be true and that I am hyping this up, but I am really not. Trust me, this will be the best thing you will do.” 

Yep, she was right.

Photo credit: Dylan Lynch.

So how do I make this happen?

Fiona introduced me to one of the visa sponsor companies that specializes in sending New Zealanders to summer camp in the USA. After just one phone call with them, I felt right at home and so excited for my journey. They had a family-like feel to their company and it just felt so right choosing them.

Did I know about Skylake before being placed there?

Nope! As I applied early in the season, I was months away from the camp job fair, so the sponsoring company explained to me their application process and based on my application, skills and experience with children, they would find me the best placement for me – and they did. I can’t imagine my life without Skylake – it truly is a home away from home.

Photo credit: Dylan Lynch. Photo credit: Dylan Lynch. Photo credit: Dylan Lynch.

Why did I go year after year?

Trust me. After doing it once, you will have that itch to go back. Your summer camp becomes a second family and I am not usually one for the slang, but not going back would give me FOMO. Not only does summer camp introduce you to so many opportunities to grow professionally and personally but you also have the chance to see some of America’s hidden treasures through travel.

Yes, I went back to camp each summer to see my friends, hang out with some of the COOLEST kids you will meet and to travel more of America but each year, camp allowed me to grow as person through giving me senior roles and responsibilities.

From Mountain Biking to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes:

  1. Mountain Bike Activity Counselor. General Cabin Counselor.
  2. Kayak Activity Counselor. Camper In Leadership Training Counselor.
  3. Full-Time Boat Driver. Yes, that’s a thing at camp.
  4. Special Programs Coordinator. Plans Avenger’s Themed Days.

Four summers at camp allowed me to progress up the ladder through various leadership roles. From going in 2016 for what was meant to be a one-time experience, turned into a career path for which I am now on — helping other New Zealanders experience a cultural exchange in America through summer camp.

Photo credit: Dylan Lynch. Photo credit: Dylan Lynch.

Advice:

My biggest advice to anyone thinking about some work and travel? JUST. DO. IT. You will never regret it. A cultural exchange program in America gives a safe and unique environment that allows you to be adventurous, spontaneous and lets you be you. You will walk away with some of the best friends and memories that will last a lifetime. You may discover hidden talents, interests and hobbies previously not known. You may find a new career path out of it just as I have done. You might change the life of a camper or they might change your life, just as mine did to me. You will never know unless you just do it. Your summer camp family is out there!