2017 Year in Review

An in-progress photo of our first hut’s construction at Yestermorrow.

 

This is definitely the most exciting (and lengthy!) update we’ve shared. We’re entering the winter season with a ton of momentum, and you’ll want to read on to learn the latest developments in our evolving hut network.

 

Our First Hut

Yestermorrow Design/Build School has been working on our first hut since late-summer. We began hashing out design concepts in August, and the students started building the structure in October. Two months later, we have a nearly-finished hut! While the Semester in Sustainable Design/Build students have finished their assignment, the hut will remain on Yestermorrow’s campus until the time comes to transport and install the structure at its permanent destination. When? We expect final approval from Green Mountain National Forest sometime in April/May 2018, at which point we’ll work swiftly to move the hut and tie up any loose ends before opening reservations to the public in summer/fall 2018. The hut will sleep 10 guests, and it will be furnished with bunks, mattresses, propane heat and cook stove, as well as kitchenware for guest use. The students built us a beautiful place to spend time in the outdoors.

 

Membership Program

Launched in October, our membership program is off to a great start, with over 140 new members to date. If you want to ensure you have early reservation access and discounted booking rates for the hut mentioned above, we suggest becoming a member this month (if you haven’t already). Why now? Because the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington has challenged us to raise an additional $1,000 in membership dues before the end of 2017. If we can do that, they’ll throw in an additional $1,000! That means your membership will effectively be doubled, and we’ll be twice as happy. We only need 29 individual memberships or 16 family memberships to make that happen. On top of that, we’ll enter you into a raffle to win a FREE night in our first hut! Join today – it’s only $35 for you or $65 for you and three other family members.

 

The Network

Over the past year, we held numerous meetings with our friends in recreation to identify conceptual zones which may be hospitable for hosting a hut. With input from the Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation, the Green Mountain Club, Catamount Trail Association, and Vermont Mountain Bike Association chapters, we identified approximately 12 potential hut areas between Killington and Stowe. We’ll now begin to prioritize these locations and more precisely identify their sites. Of course, any new hut will be subject to proposal/permitting review, but you can check out this basic map for the conceptual hut locations.

 

Youth Access

Our mission is to provide an enriching and immersive outdoor experience for everyone, but many individuals in our state and the greater New England area don’t even have the means to get to a trailhead. Whether it is lack of transportation, or simply not having the time or money to invest in outdoor gear, the limitations are real. We are making it a priority to work with organizations in Vermont and our neighboring states to identify underserved youth groups who would benefit from a few nights in the outdoors. Our commitment is to donate a minimum of eight free hut nights per year in every new structure that we own/operate. These donated hut nights can be utilized as fun chaperoned adventures for children or educational field trips to create a hands-on learning experience for students as they research the local ecology and history of the area.

 

Corporate Sponsorship

We’re excited to announce the launch of our corporate sponsorship program, and in doing so, the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington has come in strong as a Hut level sponsor for 2018. OGE has been with us from the start, and we are truly thankful for their continued support. We’ve also been fortunate enough to welcome Dr. Skimo as a Tent level sponsor for 2018. If you or someone you know runs a business, this program is a great way to ensure our vision of year-round recreation connectivity becomes a reality. Any business can help to grow our recreation economy.

 

Committees

As we continue to expand, we’re going to need additional support beyond our staff and board members. With that in mind, we’re forming the following three committees to help strengthen our network:

 

Materials and Procurement & Design/Build Committee

  • Identify opportunities to capture excess materials from construction projects within a specified geographic region while simultaneously developing a design/build strategy for each new hut. The committee will effectively be two halves; the procurement side will locate donated materials, while the build side will guide the procurement side so they know what to look for.

 

Hut Development Committee

  • Prioritize the locations we develop next. Using the conceptual zones we’ve identified with our partners in recreation during 2017, the Hut Development Committee will dig in deeper to find out which areas make sense to pursue based on ease of building, landowner considerations, existing trail connectivity, and proximity to other lodging opportunities.

 

Hut Operations/Management Committee

  • Develop long-term management plans for our huts. The operations/management committee will be responsible for planning for all aspects of a hut’s life – from the day it opens for reservations to the date it is decommissioned or renovated. This includes, but is not limited to, caretaker duties/model, budgeting for and procurement of operational materials/supplies, planning scheduled maintenance, human waste management, guest experience and safety.

 

If you’re interested in learning more or joining one of these committees, please send an email to info@vermonthuts.org, and be sure to include the committee for which you’d like to be considered. We’ll follow-up when we’re ready to assemble the committee early next year.

 

What’s next?

2018 is going to be a groundbreaking year for our young organization. In addition to opening our first hut, we’ll be sharing some very exciting news about the location of a second hut, which – believe it or not – is already built and in place (and yes, it’s adjacent to some incredible recreation opportunities). Once the remaining paperwork is complete, we’ll fill you in right away. We’ll also be building out the committees mentioned above while simultaneously submitting proposals for at least two more new hut locations.

 

How Can I Get Involved?

If you’ve read this far, you’re clearly dedicated! If you haven’t become a member yet, we encourage you to support our mission and join today. We’re going to rely heavily on volunteer labor for many of our upcoming hut projects, and the best thing to do is pay attention to our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t done so yet, and be in touch with any questions. When the time comes to assemble a strong core of volunteers, we’ll make sure you know.

 

Wishing you all a very happy holiday,

 

RJ Thompson

Executive Director

 

RJ Thompson

RJ lives to be in the mountains, and he loves sharing his passion for the outdoors with anyone who is willing to join him on foot, skis, or bike. His love for the Green Mountains began in 2002 while studying at the University of Vermont, which led him to complete an M.S. in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College. When RJ is inside, you can find him dancing to random folk songs with his wife, Olivia.