I have been cutting ice since 1967. Back then I lived two lakes from the nearest road and I had just finished building my log cabin (which I still live in today). I remember how comfortable it was having shelter in the wilderness for the first time.

My next biggest need was refrigeration. My solution? Digging out a primitive ice house down by the lake and covering it with a log roof and 4 feet of soil.
In Ely, MN there were still plenty of ice saws and thongs remaining in old sheds used before the advent of electricity when ice was the only source of refrigeration . The old timers willingly parted with their tools knowing that they were going to be put back to good use. I spent many afternoons around their kitchen tables, drinking coffee and soaking up their stories of horse teams pulling sled loads of ice from lakes to huge ice houses that would be used by the community throughout the summer.

Cutting ice at the Homestead since then has not only been a tradition but it is a necessity. My goal when I moved into the wilderness in the late 60s was to be self-sufficient. I wanted to build all of the structures from the rock and wood from the surroundings, clear land for the gardens and forage and fish to meet my needs. And, I needed ice to keep our food fresh.

I have never used fossil fuels for refrigeration, I have only cut ice.

Today we have a first class ice house build from cement blocks with a reinforced concrete ceiling covered with ten feet of soil that nourishes the virgin pines above. The mini-forest above the ice house shade the ground and keeps the earth cool so our ice will last throughout the summer. It works so well that as we start cutting ice this year we much first throw out the left over ice from the winter before.

Ice cutting is labor intensive and our annual event has grown to a what is now known as the Ice Ball or the annual Homestead ice harvest. Lisa Ringer’s four work horses that haul tons of ice out of the lake are the central Spirit of this 60-person operation and celebration.

The day is brisk and busy as scores of people cut and form teams to haul the ice out of the lake and ready to be loaded on the sled. Then there are the stackers who tightly pack the ice blocks in the icehouse. Later, the full icehouse is covered by dry sawdust from the shop. Sawdust provides an effective layer of insulation that dramatically slows the melting. The ice will last from the first week of February, when it is cut, to well past October.

In the end, the tools are put away for the another year, the horses are bedded down and the party begins.

There are cooks and helpers in the kitchen that feed this working mob.The festivities start with a feast. A string of smiling red cheeked people holding empty plates weaves its way to the counter and the steaming food. Corks from wine bottles are popped, the keg is tapped, conversations flow. Later the music starts, most listen some dance.

As the evening progresses a bonfire is lit once again drawing the grows into the cold air.

In the early AM, when the spring constellations rise, the fortunate sleep in beds while the remaining sleep on mats and cots in the heated wood shop.

At first light the local wolf pack howls.

I slept in, waking up at first light and figured it was almost 7:00am (there is no clock in my cabin). I stoked the stoves, let the cat in, made my morning drink – a quart of luke warm water with a lime squeezed in – and settled down to write thank you notes for a recent fund raiser we had for the Center. Light fluffy snow fell outside creating a lazy holiday mood.

Continue Reading…

A trailblazing adventurer became a leading educator

Article published in The GuardianThe Guardian by John AbrahamJohn Abraham

As readers know, I often focus on the story, and history, of someone who makes an impact in climate change. This is the third such article and I think you will agree, it shows that it isn’t just lab scientists and academics that are shaping the conversation about climate change.

Will Steger really rose to prominence as he led ventures to explore the polar regions of our planet. But those adventures were years in the making; they began in his childhood. Will was one of nine kids raised by parents who encouraged exploration. As long as Will stayed out of trouble and succeeded in school, he had very few limits placed on his activities. In 1957 when Will was 13, he would document meteorological activity in journals at night as part of the International Geophysical Year, in addition to nature drawings of close up flowers and other aspects of the natural world. By 15, he was inspired by adventures of Huck Finn and his National Geographic magazines to travel with his brother down the Mississippi River. It was his first (and last) motorized expedition.

In college, Will fell in love with geology and begin to explore the world more seriously. He graduated with a B.S. degree and began a teaching career which included climate change. But, it was in the wilderness that he began to make his mark.

It was Will’s early observation of the natural world and his curiosity of weather and climate that eventually enabled him to explore and survive in the Arctic. It is likely that no one has more first-hand experience in the Arctic and Antarctic than Will. He has traveled tens of thousands of miles by kayak and dogsled – leading teams on some of the most significant polar explorations our world has ever known. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from National Geographic Magazine, the inspiration from his childhood, in 2007.

Will Steger joined Amelia Earhart, Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen in receiving the National Geographic Society’s prestigious John Oliver La Gorce Medal in 1995 for Accomplishments in Geographic Exploration, Accomplishments in the Sciences, and Accomplishments in Public Service to Advance International Understanding. This was the first time the Society presented these three categories together and this award has not been given since.

Among his accomplishments are the first confirmed dogsled journal to the North Pole without resupply (1986), the longest unsupported dogsled expedition in history (1600 mile traverse of Greenland in 1988), the first dogsled traverse of Antarctica (3471 miles in 1989-1990), and the first dogsled traverse of the Arctic Ocean in one season (1995).

In this era of satellite sensing, we can see to every corner of the planet. But, we still gain much from the firsthand witness of human explorers. Who better to be a witness than Will Steger? In fact, following his expeditions, Will changed his life trajectory by embarking on an ambitious new agenda to improve childhood education. In 2006, he founded the Will Steger Foundation. This foundation deals exclusively with climate change by working with youth, educators, decision makers, and the public to foster climate literacy. Each year, the Foundation reaches over 1,000 educators through their programs and today they count over 5,000 youth who are engaged in creating solutions on their campuses and in their communities.

When I spoke to Will recently, he said,

Part of our public outreach and policy work requires I give a lot of talks about my eyewitness account of climate change. I also work with policy makers in support of clean energy and jobs. Among the silver linings in all of this is that there are tremendous benefits to local economies that result from transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy one.

In Minnesota, where the bulk of Will’s work occurs, the impact has been felt. Minnesota has a set of nation-leading laws passed with broad bipartisan support in 2007. There is a Renewable Energy Standard, which requires at least 25% of electricity to come from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2025. Minnesota also has smart energy efficiency goals to ensure we use our energy more wisely. The goal is to reduced carbon dioxide emissions 15% by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050. Along with a cleaner environment, increases in high-paying jobs in the renewable energy industry have arrived. Will’s work, and the results in his state show that we can solve the climate/energy problems in a way that improves the economics of the region.

I asked Will about the struggles he has observed. He told me,

There are still many who are in denial about what is happening – mostly, I believe, for economic reasons. And it hasn’t helped that the issue has been politicized. But now we’re all seeing the evidence of a changing climate; and seeing is believing. I think we’re finally reaching a consensus on the fact that the world is getting warmer, and parents are becoming concerned about the world their children will inherit.

I have never seen such drastic changes in the Arctic as quickly as I have in the last twenty years. Every ice shelf I have crossed by dogsled, foot or ski, has disintegrated into the ocean. Scientists tell us we have ten years, if that, to make significant changes.

I’ve been traveling in the Arctic for 50 years, and I have an innate interest in climate and ocean currents. In total, I’ve spent more than 1,000 days on Arctic pack ice, and I have seen major changes in the polar areas. That’s what motivated me to start the Will Steger Foundation. The polar areas used to be 90% frozen all summer; now, it’s 50% open ocean. That means you can no longer reach the North Pole by dog sled. This is important because when the northern polar region is frozen it reflects light, which shines almost continuously during the summer months. Going from 90% to 50% ice over the summer months means that we are now absorbing more light that we’re reflecting. This absorption by dark surfaces causes further melting, which is known as the albedo affect. This is a contributor to global warming.

You don’t have to be a climate scientist to know that, but hearing it from someone who has been there makes an impact. Keep up the good work Will.

Artist statement, moon website

John Ratzloff

Environmental and social justice activism continue to motivate my photography in Minnesota and Ontario. The main focus of this work continues to be, on the White Earth Indian Reservation in northwest Minnesota, Will Steger’s Wilderness Center north of Ely and on Ernest Oberhotzer’s Mallard Island in Rainy Lake. At sixty-seven years old, one might think I would be winding down my career as a photographer, however the opposite is true. Never before have I had the photographic opportunities that are now open to me at White Earth. After 17 years of photographing there, I have earned the trust of Erma Vizenor, President of White Earth Nation, who recently asked me to continue my photography at the tribe’s invitation and active guidance. Indeed, she invited me to photograph important religious ceremonies, as well as the graves of historical spiritual leaders. In all my years at White Earth, I have never been so bold as to even think of asking for such permission. The same holds true at Will’s, where I am photographer in residence this summer, and on Oberholtzer’s magical Mallard Island. I would not even be who I am today without Ober. He saved and preserved the Boundary Waters and Quetico wilderness areas.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time the White Earth Nation or Will Steger have ever extended an invitation like this. Their invitations to photograph are significant events in my career. I’ve earned the opportunity to make the most important, historic, and deeply seen photographs of my life.

JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune

Star TribuneELY, Minn. – Go east out of Ely, past the gas station and the Wolf Center, leaving any semblance of civilization behind. Dirt roads narrow and giant potholes rattle your chassis for miles. You turn down the long driveway, past a gate and a sign that warns to watch for dog sleds.

The forest opens to gardens, an enclave of small wooden buildings and a makeshift “lodge,” old furniture scattered on the porch. Then you see it, atop a tall hill, like some glass and wood Rubik’s Cube crowned with turrets and circled by ornate walkways. Miles from the nearest neighbor, it looks wildly incongruous and completely organic.

This is the last dream of polar explorer Will Steger, a quiet, 25-year project to create a magical retreat for the world’s best thinkers. Someday, he hopes, those people will come here to solve problems grand and small. Secluded far from distractions and surrounded by some of the most stunning wilderness in the world, experts in agriculture, education, poverty or anything else will be able to gather and come up with solutions to society’s most vexing issues.

But first, Steger has to finish his quixotic quest. He needs money, attention and help.

That’s where Jess Hill and Jermaine Rundles, recent graduates of Summit Academy OIC, come in. Summit, in north Minneapolis, teaches skills in health care and building trades to unemployed or underemployed people in poor neighborhoods to help them find good jobs that get them off public assistance.

Hill and Rundles were part of one of the teams this summer that traveled to Steger’s compound and helped him construct one of the dozen cabins on the 240-acre homestead. The work let them hone their carpentry skills while helping Steger build the dream. It also exposed many of them to the wilderness for the first time.

When Hill, 23, first saw the castle-like building, she searched for words to describe it. “It was kind of ridiculous, but beautiful,” she said.

“Oh, it was gorgeous,” added Rundles. “After driving over 200 potholes, I looked up and it was just crazy. It was epic.”

Hill, who had camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness before, was wowed with Steger’s land and retreat center. She said the team worked eight- to 10-hour days, “depending on how exhausted we were,” then sat around a campfire and learned about one another, and about Steger and his world adventures.

They started from scratch and framed a 16-by-16-foot cabin, put in the walls and floors and added the roof. Another group will go up this month and finish the cabin.

“It’s one thing to build a wall in a classroom, it’s another to build an entire cabin in the outdoors and have to level it,” Hill said. “I had never done a roof before.”

During a tour of his grounds, Steger said he had been on boards for nonprofits with Summit’s president, Louis King. They had worked on various projects to help make people in impoverished communities employable.

They decided that working on his cabins would give students a chance to build and finish a project on a small scale, doing everything from the blueprints back in Minneapolis to the finishing touches of the tiny but efficient homes, where visitors will live while at the retreat.

“It’s important for them to get a finished product so they can see exactly what they’ve accomplished,” said Steger, who slept in tents with participants even though he has a small cabin on the ridge overlooking his lake.

But the program isn’t just about job skills. Steger said he learns about participants’ lives back in the cities and the hurdles they’ve overcome to get here.

“One of the guys talked about how he had been homeless,” Steger said. “A lot of them have never been in nature like this.

“I think their wilderness experience was just incredible,” Steger added. When they arrive, “they just take it all in, the scenery, the magic of the wilderness. For some of them, it was hard to leave. They said they were sad to leave.”

Thus far, Steger has footed the bills for the Steger Wilderness Center (www.willsteger.com) himself, and built much of it, along with a 10-member crew. But he’s been spending time in the Twin Cities lately trying to drum up more support to complete the project, which consists of the four-story retreat center and a dozen cabins. All of them are in various stages of construction, but nothing is yet completed.

As dreams go, it’s pretty lofty. But so are his plans for programming.

“Generally in leadership circles, people live in silos and it’s hard to communicate,” said Steger. “My goal is to take groups of leaders into that magic of a wilderness setting and put them to work. It’s not going to be the kind of retreat where you come up here to feel good about yourself.”

“If I can pull this off,” Steger said, “I could have the biggest impact of my life.”

He’s already had an impact on Rundles, 29, who worked in a warehouse before getting his scholarship at Summit.

“I feel pretty lucky to be able to see it,” Rundles said. “It was frustrating at times, but at the end of the day, seeing I actually built that, it was crazy.”

After work, he hiked 2 miles through the woods to a nearby lake and caught a mess of fish. They didn’t have time to clean them, so he put his stringer into Steger’s private lake to keep them alive.

“Aw, man, a turtle ate all 30 of them,” he said. The next time, he was more careful.

Since working for Steger, both Hill and Rundles landed jobs with Mortenson Construction, and are working on the Vikings stadium.

“The outcome is fabulous,” said Rundles. “Everything I asked for has come true. It’s something I can show people. I put my sweat, and a little blood, into that.”

jtevlin@startribune.com • 612-673-1702

Twitter: @jontevlin

Via StarTribune.com

Living a simple life on the Homestead not only helps one understand just how many things most would consider necessity to be superfluous, but also to appreciate the things that might seem easily obtained elsewhere – namely, fresh produce. On the Homestead, an emphasis is placed on the relationship between the food consumed and the surrounding eco systems.

Living a simple life on the Homestead not only helps one understand just how many things most would consider necessity to be superfluous, but also to appreciate the things that might seem easily obtained elsewhere – namely, fresh produce. On the Homestead, an emphasis is placed on the relationship between the food consumed and the surrounding eco systems.

Summer weather means magnificent garden salads for lunch made of arugula, collard, mustard greens, and sprinkled with edible wildflowers and herbs gathered from the grounds, so that the serving bowl is overflowing with rich leafy greens, pink and purple flowers, and dotted with fresh blueberries and strawberries.

In charge of the gardens and harvests is Minnesota-native Seamus Fitzgerald, who has been using organic practices to raise food crops for four years. Before arriving at the Homestead this spring, Seamus worked at Garden Farme, an organic farm located in Anoka. Although the Homestead had all the garden beds in place, the hope was that this would be the year to truly increase the amount of food prodoucd, which meant a considerable amount of planning and work. “It wasn’t overwhelming…,” Seamus explains, “but there were a lot of questions. It was a big unknown.” He describes the work of getting the gardens into shape as exhausting, but interesting. Even with his initial sketches and perpetrations, much adaptation was required. Mostly, Seamus describes the process as a sort of grand experiment, as he works to learn what will and will not flourish in the Homestead’s gardens and studies the native flora of the area.

This season marks what is hoped to be the first of many successive ones to come. In addition to an abundance of salad greens, hardy crops like turnips, beets, carrots, beans, and peas have been planted , all from open-pollinated, heirloom seeds. Seamus hopes that in the future, the garden will be a model of diversity, both in the biological and community sense. He believes that gardens are a gateway to study eco systems and human relations – a place for both scientific and personal discovery. When practiced, gardening leads to bigger questions, such as: ‘How does a culture adapt to its place?’ ‘How do you have a sustained physical relationship with your environment?’ “Gardening opened up all of this for me,” says Seamus. “It’s about learning to live with a place, and not on it.”

Last week the Homestead had an extra reason to celebrate besides Independence Day. After weeks of painstaking work in the woodshop, interns finished installing the new third and fifth deck railings, bringing the space to life by framing the surrounding landscape between delicate curves of richly oil redwood.

Last week the Homestead had an extra reason to celebrate besides Independence Day. After weeks of painstaking work in the woodshop, interns finished installing the new third and fifth deck railings, bringing the space to life by framing the surrounding landscape between delicate curves of richly oil redwood.

The process started with the removal of the original railings, which were carefully taken out, so that they could be reused. Nails were removed before the pieces were cut down using a table saw, and then glued together and sanded down to make new boards just over three inches wide and half an inch thick. These boards were cut roughly to shape with a jigsaw, and then perfected using a router. All edges were carefully rounded over. At last the finished pieces were oiled and neatly stacked to dry. This process was repeated every day, for about two weeks, until over eight hundred new railing pieces were ready to be fitted into place.

When working on such a detailed, repetitive project day after day, itís often easy to lose track of the bigger picture. Itís a true test of patience to focus intently on performing one simple task well, over and over, instead of wanting to continuously move from step to step. ìI now understand the importance of craftsmanship,î says intern Chelsea, ìbecause the steps for building the railings were cumulative, and you could watch the details develop in the process.

Meanwhile, up on the deck, the frames from the old railings were cleaned and freshly oiled in preparation for the new railings. With all of the woodwork done, and a temporary shop set up in the third floor gazebo, the new pieces were quickly fitted in. The transformation of the deck was completed within a week of setting in the first new railing.

MARICELLA MIRANDA , Minn Post

MinnPostWilliam Moreland experienced a lot of firsts as he wrapped up his studies at Summit Academy OIC, a community-based vocational training and job placement program in North Minneapolis.

MinnPost: Summit Academy students, Will Steger break ground on cabin-building initiative in BWCAAlong with learning about construction math, building materials and power tools, the 36-year-old Texas-native became one of the first academy graduates to build a cabin adjacent to the Boundary Waters for renowned polar explorer Will Steger. Moreland and his classmates started building the cabin in late June at the Steger Wilderness Center in Ely, Minn.

“I got really inspired being able to go meet someone like Will Steger,” Moreland said, who visited the Boundary Waters for the first time. “I look at it as development and personal empowerment. It’s just a real exciting opportunity that I’ll be able to talk about for years.”

The project is part of a new partnership between the Steger Wilderness Center and Summit Academy. This summer, students will get real-life construction experience using recycled materials, while replacing a cabin at the center that burned down three years ago.

Steger and Louis King II, the founder of Summit Academy, hatched the idea about eight years ago while teaming up for H.I.R.E. Minnesota, a program aimed at ensuring that public investments in infrastructure and renewable energy help transition people from poverty and reduce racial disparities. For the cabin project, Steger provided a week of room-and-board and building materials, while the students gave their carpentry expertise and labor.

“Building little cabins in the wilderness is just a great experience,” Steger said. “People want a job, they don’t want to live in poverty. They want to work. What it’s really about for myself is I have a real commitment to the inner city. It’s about getting opportunities here.”

Moreland, who lives in Minneapolis, used to drill oil rigs. When he became dissatisfied with his job, he started looking for new career opportunities. That’s when his brother told him about the Pre-Apprentice Carpentry Program at Summit Academy.

The two-phase program provides students with job readiness skills in the construction trade through classroom and hands-on training. The first 10 weeks covers general industry training, while the second 10 weeks provides hands-on training.

MinnPost: Summit Academy students, Will Steger break ground on cabin-building initiative in BWCAThe program costs $5,400, but tuition is generally paid for through a combination of federal financial aid, donations and foundation grants, according to Steve Shedivy, director of marketing at Summit Academy. Students don’t have out-of-pocket costs or loans to pay back.

Typically, students using the program are low-income adults who are unemployed or under-employed, Shedivy said. They must have a minimum of a high school degree or GED and pass an entrance exam. Students are selected based on interviews and academic performance.

The selection process can be stringent, Shedivy added.

Upon graduation, students receive an undergraduate certificate and have the skills to work at union shops as pre-apprentices, said Jim Jordan, operations supervisor in the carpentry department at Summit Academy. Jordan is leading the cabin project.

Moreland and five other students built the cabin’s 16-by-16-foot structure during the weeklong trip, starting June 15. A second group of students will return in early July to complete the interior and exterior. The cabin will house up to two visitors at the center, Steger said.

Jess Hill, 23, of Mounds View, also joined Moreland for the first cabin-building trip. Hill grew up camping in the Boundary Waters. She also took on minor building projects as a girl, making plant box and shingles with her family. Hill said she jumped on the chance to work with Steger — whom she admires for his dog-sledding expeditions across Antarctica.

“I was right on top of it,” Hill said. “When I heard that we were building a cabin for someone as big as Will Steger, I wanted to go.”

After graduating from Summit Academy, Hill hopes to find a job with a union contractor, learn as much as she can from others, and eventually become a foreman.

Moreland wants to find a job in union carpentry, too.

“I want to gain work experience,” he said. “I want to build a reputation and move forward in this career. I really want to make it work for me. I’m just going to own it, do it, and teach others.”

Summit had a 71 percent job placement rate for students who completed the pre-apprentice program between 2012 and 2013, according to the program’s website.

Steger said he plans to have more building projects for Summit Academy students in the future.

“It’s a really neat experience,” he said. “The friendships you build here are really important. I think some of these people will probably stay in touch too.”

Via MinnPost.com

It’s not unusual for family and friends of interns and staff members to visit those of us staying at the Homestead for the season, but the presence of children on the grounds is a little unusual. It was therefore all the more special an occasion when 11-year old Maia, the niece of resident gardener Seamus, visited with her family for the weekend.

A Walk With MaiaMaia was quiet at first, and could often be found nestled in on the lodge’s couch, with a book in her lap. Her introspective manner was not to be taken for shyness though, for when we engaged her in conversation, Maia truly sparkled. She was eager to show us a book about stars that Will had found for her, pointing to the star cluster Pleiades, the fourth brightest star of which she is named after. “I can name all the stars in Pleiades,” she had said proudly. Maia often kept me company while I did chores in the lodge, and we talked about all of our favorite books and pastimes. I learned that she was homeschooled, and that in addition to reading, she loved drawing, singing, and sewing. She had even designed and sewed her own hat based off of a favorite Pokémon character, which she eagerly showed me. She was excited by all the work going on with Summit Academy’s construction project, and quickly made friends with some of the students.

One evening the two of us went for a walk that turned into a game of make-believe pirates. To our eyes the deck of the Wilderness Center became our ship, and the lake became the ocean. We jumped to dry land and started on a trek for buried treasure, which took us through a thicket of raspberries and down a dirt road, as we followed a map sketched on a piece of birch bark. After we tired of our game, Maia and I fell into easy conversation. She told me she thought the Center was awesome, and how much she liked Will, adding that she thought he was really cool. We passed a large bolder covered in a thick green moss, and we both stopped to examine it more closely. It looked like a miniature forest, spread out on the surface of stone, and I remarked that maybe there were two little fairy girls like us, too tiny for us to see, going for a walk on it as we looked down. “And they’re stopped at a rock like this,” added Maia, “and are looking down and wondering if there are two more even smaller little fairies on it. And there are two more littler fairies on that, and –

“ “And it goes on for infinity?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Maybe the whole earth is just a piece of dust on an even bigger piece of rock.”

“Maybe,” I said with a nod, as we started back for the lodge.

When I asked Maia if it was okay if I wrote something about her, there was only one thing she wanted to be sure that I mentioned. She became very quiet, took a deep breath, and said, “I really, really, really, really want to eat sushi right now.”

Photo: Maia with one of her new friends from Summit Academy, Jermaine

The Homestead was a bustling place last week, with a small city of tents pitched near the lake, the repeated squeak and groan of the lodge door as people filtered in and out, and five students plus one instructor from Summit Academy started work from the ground up on a new cabin.

Summit Academy A Community of Us3Summit Academy, a North Minneapolis-based program, focuses on providing its students with practical training, so that participants are prepared to enter the workforce in fields such as construction or healthcare. The students who worked on “Happier Acres” were on the last stretch of a twenty week program. After spending the first part of their training learning different elements of the business, they finally put together all the various skills they’d learned into the construction of the cabin, making it the first official project the students have completed from start to finish. The sense of pride and accomplishment felt by those in the class was clear on their faces as after-dinner conversation would turn to the day’s progress. Willy-Bob, one of the academy students, described the feeling of building the cabin as wholesome, going onto say that it has given him a lot of confidence. He was proud that the newly constructed cabin would long stand as a representation of the school. He plans to continue to use his newfound construction skills not just in the field, but in his everyday life as well, and hopes to someday go to school for design drafting.

Summit’s time at the Homestead was also more than just an opportunity for its students to gain practical experience. By mid-week, the students of Summit felt like permanent members of the Homestead, having quickly settled into the routine of the days. “You’re really living without technology here!” proclaimed one student. All meals were prepared and eaten together. Everyone partook in evening saunas and swimming. Several of the Summit crew went fishing one evening, and then treated the group to a tasty meal of fish, spicy tomato salsa, and fried rice. By Friday, there was no more distinction between ‘the Summit crew’ and ‘the interns.’ That night everyone gathered around a roaring bonfire to celebrate the success of the week and reflect on how much the experience had meant. One student, Joe, mentioned how, on arrival, he had not expected the interns living on the Homestead to be such a tight-knit group. “And now,” he said, “it’s like our group joined yours. It’s a community. A community of us.”

Everyone was sad that the week had to end. Saturday morning the van was packed, and goodbyes were said. On what had once been bare ground less than a week ago now stands a completed cabin shell, ready for finishing. The cabin is a testament to more than just the technical skill of the students of Summit Academy, for it also reflects what a dedicated group of people can accomplish when they come together to focus their talents towards a goal.

Photo: The Crew From Summit: (left to right) Homestead resident Mike, Joe, Boonka, Jess, Summit instructor Beth, Jermaine, Will, Willy-Bob