Written by: Matt J. Libby, Libby Camps
What do you say about growing up with a living legend? I say that a little in jest, but it’s true. Orvis lifetime achievement award, Legendary Maine Guide Award, Maine Tourism Hall of Fame . . . my father, Matt P. Libby, has truly earned all the accolades. What sticks out the most to me is that he is completely incapable of quitting or even slowing down.
When he and my mom bought out my grandmother—becoming the owner of Libby Camps, on Maine’s Millinocket Lake—business was pretty slow, and what business there was dried up pretty quickly because, “They don’t do it like Elsie did!” My parents stuck with it, working jobs on the side to make ends meet, and built the business up enough to survive. After a few years, they knew that they had to either focus solely on the lodge or sell it. Obviously, they decided on the former, or I wouldn’t be writing this. They put everything they had into it and finally were able to turn a profit.
He could have been happy with that, but he pushed forward and expanded by adding bathrooms to the existing cabins and building new cabins in his “spare time.” When this was done, he could have settled there, but he decided we needed a seaplane and a pilot. So, he went out and got his pilot’s license and bought an airplane (for about the same price he had purchased the camps for!). So, everything was finally just how he wanted it, so why not expand into Labrador and see if we can run a camp up there?
I’m pretty sure the only reason he sold out to me was that he ran out of ideas on how to improve. He’s now “retired” and working with a Christian group rebuilding a lodge in Alaska so they can help veterans. Like I said, he doesn’t know how to slow down. When I was about five, he bought an old, rundown farm house that he planned to fix up while we lived in it. Do you remember the old button light switches? You would press the button and wait; then maybe five seconds later, the light would come on, or if it didn’t you bang on the wall to make it work. Well, this house had those.
Working in the off-season between sportsmen’s shows and upkeep on the camps, he would do about one room a winter. When I graduated high school, he had it completely done and exactly how he wanted it, so he sold it. I’m telling you, he needs a challenge. And I’m glad he does. His hard work still shows up every day in the lodge that we are lucky enough to run. Love ya Dad!
Matt J. Libby is a former Trout Bum of the Week, and he owns and operates Libby Camps, which was founded by his great-grandfather on the shores of Millinocket Lake in 1890. Matt J. (the initial distinguishes him from his dad) now runs the place, and he flies guests to remote waters in his trusty Cessna 185.