Listen to “Do the Wilderness” written and sung by visiting Summit Academy student Ivan Kipapula, recorded by the Steger Wilderness Center family band, Irony Waters:
Click on the photos below to watch interviews with the Summit students. Portraits made by John Ratzloff.
Watch the full ‘Summit Academy Builders’ 2018 documentary here:
by Jenna Pollard
June 14, 2018
It seemed today like the previous nights’ sauna brought everyone refreshed to the breakfast table. With a cloudless sky, the heat of the day came on quickly.
I worked with Beth to design a joint in two 4” x 10” beams that would bear the load of an eight-foot overhang off the back of the second tent platform. Two weeks ago you would have thought there was enough wood here to build a small town, but with these two wall tents alone we’ve made a major dent in our milled wood supply.
By 10:30am Mike and his crew were ready to put the canvas on their nearly-finished tent frame. All hands were on deck as we un-boxed the large canvas tent, transported it to the top of the structure and slowly worked it down the rafters and over the walls of the frame. It seemed everyone was holding their breath as the canvas came into place; wondering if it would fit. It did! We laughed and clapped and high-fived in the joy of hard work and success. Lunch came soon after.
The high sun had everyone feeling a bit exhausted and preparation for the afternoon required plenty of drinking water and sunscreen. I joined Al’s crew for most of the afternoon building two small outhouses to accompany the new wall tent sites. Al modeled the outhouses off of others on the property, but with a twist: we used leftover slab wood from winter milling to side the structures. They’ll blend right in with the forest around them.
After supper many of us went swimming. Paddle-carving continues around the fire at Hobo Village, with Kelsey, Caitlin and Stitch joining in tonight. Our rule is: carve one paddle for use at the Center and then you can carve one for yourself. It’s a very motivating rule!
Will returned home this evening after a week away fundraising. It’s good to have him back. His deep history with this place colors every conversation he’s a part of and makes the experience for residents, students and guests so rich. He joined us around the Hobo fire while we carved paddles, John shared homemade fried potatoes and Summit students met our friendly resident snapping turtle, Goliath.
The wind is picking up tonight and thunder is rumbling to the north. Tomorrow may bring rain; all the better for the garden!
June 15, 2018
It’s the last day of our first Summit Academy student group’s two week stay. I can’t believe we’ve had students stay for only one week in the past. These two weeks have flown, and with the addition of a second week to the program we were able to develop a much stronger connection with the students. They felt more at home here, they knew where to find tools, and they had a weekend to themselves to explore and recreate.
I’m sad to see this group go, and I can hardly wait for the next group to show up in three weeks. Today day was spent wrapping up projects. Summer residents and Summit students worked together to construct two new outhouses.
Everyday I’m surprised by what my position holds here. Today it was a combination of operating a chainsaw and helping staff complete invoices. I’ll never get bored!
The end of the day brought an unforgettable meal – chickpea curry with rice, quinoa and a sweet potato and cabbage salad. We had almost thirty people at the meal, and the energy of finishing our projects was tangible.
We were treated at the end of the day with a tour of the Center with Will. He took the time to share with us his vision, the building process and stories from his past. Without doubt we were all inspired. We swam, made music and enjoyed our last night together around the Hobo campfire.