Going next-level

August 30, 2022 | 

Two crews have been working at Grout Pond near Stratton on new outdoor recreation infrastructure along the catamount trail network.

The trail that loops around Grout Pond is too wet in summer for hiking. An AmeriCorps crew of young adults is building multiple sections of boardwalk along the trail to make it accessible for hiking.

Meanwhile, the Pro Build crew has embarked on VYCC’s first backcountry hut build in partnership with the Vermont Huts Association. A mighty crew of six have been working on this huge project all summer: Crew Leader Nick; Crew Members Pat, Beth, Jack, and River; and VYCC Build Project Supervisor, Alex. A smaller crew will keep building into the fall.

The crew had to haul in all their tools and materials. They are using generators for power. Here is the crew’s perspective after their first few weeks on the project:

How would you describe this project?


Pat: We’re building what is called a hut, but it’s very much like a house: fully insulated, four seasons. We’re learning how to frame it from the ground up.

River: It’s a start-to-finish project. Usually in the industry, multiple subcontractors would be part of a project like this. It’s super cool that we get to be part of everything.

What skills have you learned so far that are valuable to you? 


Pat: Foundational carpentry skills and knowledge. Maybe you could teach it in classroom, but we are working through problems and going through every step in the process of building.

Nick: To understand why you’re putting things where you’re putting them. Transferring from the plan to the build, and making sure they’re the same thing. That’s a big one, a very valuable skill.

Why did you join this crew? 


River: This was kind of a crazy collision of worlds for me because I was introduced to conservation work last summer; and just finished my associate’s degree in building science. I’m interested in sustainable building and pushing how we interact with buildings. Being able to do some conservation work and building at the same time is an awesome opportunity.

Pat: I wanted to learn these practical skills. I have never seen a job like this where teaching is a primary focus and you get to do the thing being taught. While we do have deadlines and pressure to get things done, I feel comfortable to learn at my own pace. Also, leading Crew Members through things that I just learned a couple days ago helps me learn. It feels really good to be working so collaboratively. Nick: What brought me here was the sustainable construction aspect of the project. I graduated from a building science and energy management program. This is a great leap to get into sustainable construction, and to have the life experience of camping and get out of my routines.

Living in the woods, in a tent, is challenging. The way the world is today, it’s not a bad time to be out in the woods. The more we hear about what’s going on in the world, the more I’m glad I’m out in the woods. But it is a great life experience – personal development, leadership skills, and just getting out here and doing it. Seeing Crew Members progress is really rewarding.


Nick: Having the visual progression day-to-day is extremely rewarding. We built a latrine and we’re able to use it! The whole experience is something that I’ll be able to take with me for the rest of my life. It’s going to be cool to walk away and know this structure will be here for many years down the road.  We can come back and check it out and show it to other people.


When complete, this hut will offer a basic kitchen, screened-in porch, and beds for 10 people. You will be able to rent it through the Vermont Huts Association!

Find information about VYCC”s conservation projects here.