Skip to main content
Kids making art at summer camp


Opportunities to Succeed  

What is an opportunity? To me, an opportunity is the chance or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.  

What is success? To me, success is the accomplishment or ability to reach your goals.  

Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities. Success, success, success. Opportunities to succeed involve a set of circumstances or chances that an individual is given, and with those circumstances, the individual is able to attain a goal they have. What does this mean for children, youth, and families? At the YMCA we want all individuals to succeed. Providing the opportunity is our part in finding one’s success. Education and socialization are part of the success that we aim to provide. Education provides stability, growth, adventure, social skills, relationship building, and exposure to new things. During the developmental periods of a child’s life, they are growing physically, emotionally, and mentally. I, along with many others, aim to serve as a steppingstone for children and give them the opportunity to learn new things and meet their goals. While education in the summer may look different than in the school-setting, it is just as important. Providing education in the natural environment, and outside of the classroom is needed to help children to succeed. Exploration, healthy living, socialization, growth, and adventure are all things that I focus on when interacting with children, youth, and their families. Giving the chance for a child to learn new things, try new hobbies, play new games, create whatever it is they want to create is what that opportunity looks like. If we can provide that to a child, they can take it and run. The first step is to provide, and the next step is for them to take this chance and use it to succeed and grow. My degree of Human Development and Family Studies focused on how individuals and families develop behaviorally, cognitively, economically, emotionally, physically, and socially throughout the lifespan. And I can confidently say that I aim to provide successful development of all these things for children, youth, and their families.  

When I first applied to work at the Charles E. Lakin YMCA, I didn’t know that it was going to be a place full of opportunities and success for me. I first started here as an Assistant Summer Day Camp Counselor a few years ago, back then I didn’t know what to expect. I was provided the opportunity to make great connections with employees and the children. I loved it so much, that I came back the next year as a Lead Summer Day Camp Counselor. I grew as a person, and as a camp counselor providing the children with opportunities to succeed. Last year, was a big change for me and one of the best opportunities that I have had yet. I had the opportunity to become the Assistant Summer Day Camp Manager. This was an experience I was thankful to have and can’t wait for this summer. I got to create the schedules, activities, and adventures for the children to participated in. I got to grow as a person and learn about the YMCA. In one location over a few years, I was provided many opportunities to grow and succeed. I started as an Assistant Summer Day Camp Counselor, and now I am the Assistant Summer Day Camp Manager and get to change lives every day. This is my personal story, and I hope to do the same for children and give them opportunities to grow and enjoy their summer.  

Madelyn Claar, Charles E. Lakin YMCA Assistant Summer Day Camp Manager 

Category: Youth Development
Image of camp director

My name is Madelyn Claar and I am the Assistant Summer Day Camp Manager at the Charles E. Lakin YMCA. I have worked at this location for three years now, and I can proudly say that it is a safe place that I can call home. I just recently graduated Iowa State University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. I also recently received my Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification to provide Applied Behavioral Analysis therapies to those on the autism spectrum. I chose my field of study because I want to provide services to individuals in need and watch them succeed and grow over time. I feel that it is important to create connections and give new opportunities to individuals. I have always had a passion for working with children and youth, and I love that there is variety because no one single day is ever the same. In my free time I love to travel, go to concerts, volunteer, and spend time with family.