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Camper Cabin Rebuild

front door of completed cabin in spring

by Karissa Vetsch, Youth Outdoors Crew Member/ AmeriCorps Member

Living in Minnesota usually means hearing about cabins. Folks visiting their cabins over the summer, putting their docks out, or talking about going up north. When I heard that Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa had the opportunity to help move and reconstruct a camper cabin at Lake Maria State Park, I was thrilled. This project has been ongoing for over three months and each Youth Outdoor crew has had the opportunity to go work on it. Part of working in nature conservation is the importance of preserving and reusing. The cabin will be rebuilt with as many of the original pieces as possible. Transitioning into this construction project reminded me of other ways to be more sustainable outside of our nature conservation work.

The main parts of this project are taking apart, moving, and rebuilding the cabin. Two main reasons the cabin is moving is to be more accessible and better for the local ecosystem. The DNR has been working on making the cabin as accessible as possible while using the same cabin pieces. The bridge has become less safe to cross and moving the cabin to its new location helps the ecosystem around the previous spot.

The project began with taking the cabin apart. My YO5 crew got the opportunity to work on the cabin for the first two weeks. Our tasks included taking the old wood shingles off the roof, peeling off the old roof foam, taking the tongue and grove off, dismantling the bunk beds and picnic table inside, and ripping up the floorboards. Once the roof and perma-chink (the glue type mixture between the logs) was removed we could begin taking logs off the walls. It was a process taking them off one by own but we created a make-shift ramp and pulley system using ropes and slowly lowered the logs down the ramp to the ground. Once all the logs were down we used a grip hoist to lift the logs up and over the small creek of water to the other side of the bridge. The bridge had a weight limit and was no longer safe to use.

Once all the logs and pieces of the cabin were taken apart and moved across the water, the grip hoist was used again to lift the logs up the hill. As that was happening, the ground was getting prepped for the new cabin location. Crews had to shovel out the dirt, lay gravel, and level it all before creating the platform. Once the platform was up the logs could be replaced and the re-creation of the cabin could begin! It was very similar to a giant game of Lincoln Logs but with more math involved.

We just finished perma-chinking the outside, got all the windows and doors in, and built the deck on the front of the cabin. We are nearing the end of this project and it has been a great learning experience. Rebuilding this cabin has given me and each youth outdoors crew more construction education. It has been exciting that each crew has gotten a chance to work on this cabin and work alongside other crew members they might not normally get to work a lot with.

Check out some progress pictures and if you get a chance to rent out the camper cabin at Lake Maria, be sure to give it a chance! Rebuilt with love, by Conservation Corps of MN Youth Outdoor Crews.