Sherman Lake YMCA
Oct. 7, 2013
We finally got, what felt like a long awaited, tour from Luke Austinfeld at YMCA Sherman Lake. I say long awaited because Luke has been an idol of ours since early on in the trip. His name comes up often due to his travels around the country about 20 years ago to do research on the best camp facilities across the country. From this information Luke and his team stitched together the best aspects of all the best camps he visited to form a quilt, Sherman Lake. We had a chance to talk on the phone to Luke last winter and we were instantly fascinated by his insight and view of what makes a great camp. Two of the things that Luke reiterates about his trip is that camps always resemble what the executive directors office looks like and that a great camp director is a great story teller. Sherman Lake adheres to both of those criteria. First a high school art teacher, then the CEO and rebuilder of Camp Wood in Kansas, then the executive director at Jones Gulch and then the master mind behind and CEO of Sheman Lake, Luke has had a fascinating camp career. Everything at Sherman Lake is thought out and the details are valued. As a result you feel as if you are walking in a piece of art. It was fun to talk to Luke about the decision to put the office/ welcome center, where it is or why the color of the roofs are teal- greenish blue. As Luke walked us around camp he poetically highlighted why certain bricks were chosen and what artists’ paintings spaces at camp were modeled after. One of the unique features of Sherman Lake is that it is the only YMCA Camp to have a full Y gym facility on sight. Both campers and the outside community can take advantage of the Y and yet the branch itself seems to disappear into the fabric of the trees, grasses and the other buildings at camp. Meeting and spending the day with Luke gave us new insight in to the importance of the structure of camp, and a renewed belief that creative facilities lead directly into the magic each camper experience at camp.