SUTHERLAND—The new director of Camp Autumn near Sutherland said his parents dropped him off at camp when he was 10 years old and he never left.
Adam Lybarger, who started at the southeast O’Brien County camp in the middle of March, fell in love with summer camp during his first week at Camp Lakewood near Potosi, MO.
“Of course, now I know everybody is a college-age student doing the camp counselor roles, but I had these cool adults who were interested in me and encouraged me to try new activities,” he said. “I really enjoyed all of the camp staff and looked up to them like they were superheroes. I was hooked.”
The YMCA camp is situated near Sunnen Lake where he learned to sail. This quickly became his favorite camp activity.
“They had a small fleet of sailboats. Of course, at 10 years old, I’m not out there captaining a sailboat on the open seas, but that’s kind of what it felt like,” Lybarger said. “Some of the other stuff is the non-activity times — just hanging out and getting to know your cabin mates.”
After aging out of being a camper, becoming a counselor was a natural transition for him. He was able to help younger campers enjoy some of the experiences that were once new to him while continuing to enjoy the outdoors and earning a paycheck.
“That was like a win, win, win for me,” Lybarger said.
The 35-year-old has been in an overseer role for the past four years and was looking to become more hands on with a program.
“Getting to work with counselors and kids in the summer camp program — that’s where my passion really lies,” Lybarger said.
Camp Autumn, which opened June 5, 2017, is operated by Seasons Center for Behavioral Health based in Spencer and provides therapy, skill development and more while giving children some fun times in the process.
He and the staff members at Camp Autumn — located about nine miles northeast of Sutherland — spent last week preparing for the first campers of the summer who will arrived on Monday, June 3.
“I’m looking forward to all the laughter that’s going to be here. The laughter, the smiles, and getting to meet the kids here in Iowa,” Lybarger said. “What I really enjoy about summer camp is watching the kids come in and just kind of get to be who they are. I always look at it as that’s my way of having a small role and effecting positive change in the world.”